The Originality | Project Manager, Development Management, ChiWon Jeon
There is a new world in games. We experience new things there and are deeply touched by the growth that we could never experience in reality.
A new joy can never be created on its own; it is created through combination of different experiences and passion of different people, which is channeled into new possibilities. People are gathered to create one game, and their different capabilities and passion for quality create a new game.
We create another world, collecting pieces of different experiences.
Diverse superiorities < The Originality >
“What matters to me the most is whether I am continually growing within the organization and whether I can grow further. The merit of NC is that new attempts and challenges are fully respected. This makes me look forward to many more things that I can do in the future and how that will develop me.”
Project Manager, Development Management, ChiWon Jeon
Project Manager, Development Management
Project Managers (PM) would think about project management policies, methodology, and tools. We mainly manage overall game development project and function as a communication hub at the center of project. In particular, DevPMO Office, the organization that I belong to, is a team of PMs in development functions and thinks about ways to improve efficiency in game development from multiple perspectives.
At the moment, I am focused on ‘tools’; I plan and manage the tools that could improve convenience in game development procedures. I am participating in planning of “AIR” (Achievement Innovation Record), a project management service and tool optimized for NC, and “FRAME”, a tool through which staff would share their artistic output and receive feedback. Also, DevPMO Office has developed BRIDGE Text and BRIDGE Voice to automate the tasks related to text and voice localization.
“AIR”, a company-wide development management tool
As the size of organization grows, the need for project management has also gradually increased. Even in the past, we also improved and shared the open-source tools to serve the needs of individual teams and developed management tools in an organic manner. “AIR” was introduced through transforming the project management tools that we used to update and use so that they could become a company-wide service.
“AIR” has replaced 80% of the original open-source codes and is planned to be updated in a consistent manner. However, still there is a fundamental limitation. To develop a tool most optimized for NC, a part of its foundation is supposed to be modified. However, it would be difficult to make such a modification, since it would have a significant impact on overall projects.
To address such shortcomings, we are planning introduction of a service called “ON AIR” (tentative). We aim to build a project management tool and a collaborative platform most optimized for NC’s needs. We are giving much thought into its planning process, as we strive to develop a tool that is used because it is better than any other tools available elsewhere, not because it is provided internally by the company.
Unique capabilities of PMs
I frequently think about the capabilities that are considered unique to PMs. Developers would have their own area of expertise, and designers, too. However, it seemed that PMs managing projects were generalists, covering multiple areas at the same time. Therefore, I have always had questions about this and thought about ways to develop expertise and unique capabilities.
Developing from the title of ‘project manager’, the concept of ‘product manager’ to have an ownership over the product and to be involved in the overall project is receiving an increasing support. The position of product manager is generally explained as the one to have understanding of the three areas, including business, technology, and user experience, and to have an influence on the aforementioned areas while positioning themselves in the overlapping area of the three.
Whether it is a project or product manager, there is no significant difference in terms of the fact that they would be involved in the product based on understanding of the three areas. Project managers should also position themselves in the overlap between various areas composing a project and be involved in the overall project based on ownership and expertise related to the project. It is a capability unique to project managers to meet various stakeholders and to find an adequate compromise as a center of communication.
Thinking about creativity based on limitations to improve productivity
‘Creativity' was a concept that has mesmerized me
I personally believed that one should try discovering things in their 20s. I wished to try as many things as possible, instead of limiting myself in the tasks that were believed to be necessary in one’s 20s. I studied advertisement in college. I was very focused on my major at the time, participating in various advertisement contests and winning awards from them for about a year or two. However, I could not continue to find interests in advertisement, and it was something unexpected.
After then, I started a start-up with one of my seniors. I planned a task management service based on the concept of “GTD (Getting Things Done)”. In the meantime, I was naturally immersed in the keywords of project management and productivity. The concept of generating efficient results within a short period of time using methodology and tools was interesting. I thought that I should not stop there and should have an on-the-job experience and apply the methodology and knowledge that I acquired.
Pursuing an interest until finding an answer
There are various areas where project management is applied; however, there may be significant differences, depending on areas. When I decided my area of expertise, the level of interest that I had was the most important reason for me. I thought that it would be even easier for me to improve efficiency and to find rooms for improvement in the areas to which I was closely related and in which I had interests. I used to be interested in the areas including IT, game, and entertainment, and therefore, I started my career as a PM after joining NC, which was a game company covering all the aforementioned areas.
I chose my current career in the end of my 20s after spending years studying advertisement, movies, and psychology and ultimately, could develop confidence in the things that I do now. I believe that I could be confident I my choice, since I have tried other things and had hands-on experience in those things. If you believe that you are what you have done, you would see everything that you have done in a positive light.
‘Defamiliarizing’ things that are familiar
‘Defamiliarization’, a concept introduced by Brecht, a playwright, has become an important milestone in my life. Breaking away from the way you used to perceive things and looking at things in a different light, for instance. Many artworks that I used to experience through ‘defamiliarization’ has been an important part of my life.
I learned while pursuing a career in advertisement that ‘advertisements were not art’. The same would apply to the products and projects that I should manage. Depending on decisions made from the business perspective – to improve a certain service KPI, for instance – I need to think about ways to become creative based on certain limitations.
A center of efforts to structuralize game development
Becoming a professional to be able to persuade others
I remember a professor teaching copywriting having said, “If there is a fundamental truth I the world, it would be the fact that the world keeps changing; and people are the ones that change at a relatively slower pace in the fast-changing world.” People always resist new concepts, methodologies, and tools. I believe that there would be no other option for me to become an expert to be able to persuade them. So, I make constant efforts to become the best expert in respective fields.
When trying to persuade others, I find the basis of my argument in the project’s direction. Once I develop major objectives, and once objectives are set for certain intended results, priorities are determined. Once priorities are explained, there may be conflicts as people would present different opinions. At this moment, I propose an opinion and try to persuade others to accept it, persuading others that it was the one consistent with our business direction. I develop plans for time periods that are as short as a sprint and also as long as a milestone and a year; and in some cases, plans are made for each vision so that members of the organization could motivate themselves.
Voluntary structures and self-structurization
In the DevPMO organization, everyone has clear roles and responsibilities and carry them out in a voluntary manner and share their results. The Office works in a very independent and voluntary manner, instead of working based on a vertical order system. In order for such a structure to work well, it is important that individual staff are very much self-organized. They should have a strong will to improve the process and be sufficiently motivated for their duties. In this regard, NC is oriented towards building an environment to support such a goal.
Our staff also have vastly different experiences. All of us are similar in the fact that we love games. However, there are many that used to work outside the game industry. The youngest staff in the Office started work when he was 20 after winning multiple development contests as a teenager and is pursuing the career as a PM for seven years now. Also, there is a staff that has almost 20 years of experience as a 1.5th generation in the IT industry.
The more diverse staff we have, the more disagreements we experience. Whenever there is a disagreement, there must be a standard to determine an opinion that would contribute more to the growth of a product or to the creation of a better project. Therefore, I establish the vision, mission, and strategy in the beginning of a project and discuss and develop them in a periodic manner. It is most desirable to propose a compromise based on mutual agreements.
The ’80:20’ principle
Whether I keep growing in an organization or not and whether I could grow further or not are the most important considerations for me. I believe that for both companies and individuals to grow, the so-called 80:20 principle must be respected. It is important to focus on current duties; but only if they are given 20% of chance to try new things, they could ensure continuity in business and exert creativity.
In that regard, NC provides a great merit in the fact it is an environment where new attempts and challenges are respected and members are given enough freedom to make such attempts and challenges. I am looking forward to the things that I will do in the future and how much it will prompt my personal development. That is why I wonder how much I would grow in the future. My goal is to do my share in the process to make PM be recognized as an important axis in execution of game development projects and grow further so that it could become a center in the efforts to structure the process where games are developed as complex media.
* The above presents the personal opinions of the interviewee and not the official opinions of NCSOFT.