Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

[Archive] Dress Codes and Development

Posted by Rampant Coyote on October 23, 2015

I pulled out this old article from the old, lost blog from about 9 years ago. I think it’s still pretty relevant.

I’ve noticed with some curiosity that after having a positions at a few different companies in my career, the most productive software development teams were the ones at the companies with the least stringent dress codes. In one case, the same engineers worked at two different companies, and I noted their productivity was better at the place where they wore jeans and T-shirts to work.

I’m not saying there’s necessarily a causal relationship here. Two companies with the most stringent dress codes also had some management / business issues that were hurting either the department or the business as a whole. So while the I.T. team couldn’t get their job done, they at least LOOKED GOOD while they weren’t doing anything.

My favorite “Dress Code” story comes from Singletrac (hey, over five years at a company that rose to stardom and fell almost as quickly is bound to result in a lot of stories!) Bernie Stolar was then the head of Sony Computer Entertainment of America, and they had taken a big gamble on this small company of mainly engineers who had never done games before. There was a lot of skepticism about our ability to turn knowledge of building tank and aircraft simulators for the military into entertaining videogames. (Editorial note from 2015: And at the simulator company where I now work, we’ve had a number of former video game developers developing hard-core training sims…)

One day Bernie came to take a tour of our office, and to talk biz with Singletrac’s president, Mike Ryder. So Bernie pokes his head into our offices where we’re all dillegently plugging along on our games. A few of the guys on the team had problems “dressing down” for a videogame job, so they were somewhere in-between “business casual” and casual. A few had nice jeans and knit button-down shirts.

Bernie snorted and told Ryder, “They sure don’t LOOK like gamers.”

We had an all-hands meeting every Friday during lunch. During the following Friday meeting, Mike Ryder gave us his plea:

“At Singletrac, we’ve never really had anything like a dress code. But if you feel so inclined to wear jeans with holes in them to work, or to flip your baseball hat around backwards while working on the game… please feel free!”

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