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23 April 2016 @ 06:32 am
Gamedev Trolling  
Commentators on Hacker News discuss controversial presentation Recruiting, Training and Retaining
by Alex St. John.

I think the author was the most eloquent in his third iteration explaining his position:
1. You are NOT a victim and you should spend your energy fixing the things you control instead of blaming things you don’t. You control what YOU do and you can choose to have some control over your attitudes. You are banned from having excuses for anything!
2. Being emotionally fragile is something you train to overcome, not embrace. Instead of listening for opportunities to be outraged, try just listening.
3. Doing something of “Value” is not the same as doing something “Strenuous”. Modern tech jobs are not “Strenuous” if you experience them as such you need to develop some emotional fortitude.

The “Asperger’s” Engineer
For example kids and especially engineers conforming to the Asperger nerd stereotype are ripe for exploitation… they can give TERRIBLE interviews. They often have simply abysmal social skills, they can’t focus, they can’t make eye contact, they can’t relate socially. The tech world and interestingly the game industry is dominated by a lot of these kinds of folks. The “Asperger’s” nerd that can’t clear an interview screening or write their own resume can often be the most valuable kind of engineer you can hire (kidnap). All they WANT to do is code all day and be left alone to focus. When you can identify and engage them, they can be extremely valuable hires. Many mature technology companies don’t know how to identify and recruit (exploit) these folks even though they are often very valuable.

Women in high-tech
In the US, female engineers who are not imported from other countries are as rare as hens teeth.
There is NOTHING technology companies, employers, managers and the industry wants more than to be able tho hire and promote (auction off) female engineers. Lacking any local supply in the US, they can’t get H1B1 Visas issued by the State Department to import them fast enough. Any woman entering the tech industry has it made!
Sadly the women we do get in high-tech who are raised in the US are often fatally compromised with victimology psychosis before they ever reach the work place (salt mine). The ones we get often fall short of their potential because they are so focused and concerned about their gender (shackles) that they often can’t conceive that there could be any other reason that they struggle at their jobs. Technology is extremely hard to master, it takes years to become proficient, communicating with teams about technology is an enormously complex undertaking made more challenging by the prevalence of a lot of male “Asperger’s” engineers with poor social skills.
If you were raised to have a handy acceptable excuse for failing, such as “it’s because I’m a girl” and you accept it, then it becomes impossible for you to ever become great, because it’s always easier to blame others when you face hardship in your career.
Even if it’s TRUE, even if discrimination is a factor in your environment, it’s a disastrous cycle to ALLOW yourself to embrace it. People who give themselves permission to fail or permission to give up for any reason (valid or imaginary), find making excuses habit forming. They never achieve their potential. It doesn’t matter if your victimology world-view is comforting, is constantly validated, or is justified, if you accept it as a reason for failure, you’ll never look beyond it to ask; “What can I do to improve myself”… or “What if the reason this person is telling me that I need to improve at my job is because… I ACTUALLY just need to improve at my job?”

Generally I tell women that successful female engineers will often be promoted to management roles (plantation manager) very quickly for a variety of good reasons. Female engineers exhibiting the hallmark “Asperger’s” nerd personality traits are less common, technical women are often more social and better communicators, they don’t JUST want to sit at a desk and code all day. There are many high coordination, high organization jobs that are very difficult to fill, for example: Customer Support Manager, Build Manager, QA Manager, Technical Documentation Manager, etc. These jobs have an odd combination of requirements that involve strong technology acumen, strong social and communication skills, high attention to detail and high organization. The person you want to fill those jobs with is that girl who always used to sit at the front of the class, had all the answers, did all the homework, got straight A’s…. and learned to code.

The short of it is that women in high-tech have it made (fetch a premium on the block), the only real obstacle many face to rapid promotion and total career freedom is letting go of the constant gender introspection and victimology to allow themselves to be challenged, to face and overcome failures and to hear feedback without a gender-victim filter in place to deflect negative feedback or criticism.

Author's comments:
- “Those of you who are lazy whiners please throw fruit at me” and half the audience erupted with rotten fruit.

- There is nothing more time sucking and tedious for a manager than having to replace somebody valuable. Even jerk managers are also usually lazy and the path of least effort as a manager is to avoid having to replace anybody, especially in high-tech where losing a key player can set you back months or years. It’s just NOT a thing I believe ANY manager really pursues.

- I neglected to mention that the girls in my recruiting women slide are my daughters. They’re both computer science majors. Why take the fun out of people indulging in raging at me for being a misogynist when the slide was about raising my daughters to be successful technologists.

- When I need quiet to get things done, I just work all night. I get that I’m unusual in today’s world for being this way but it never feels like work to me. I’ve known a lot of others like me, they all ended up the evil boss, 100% of the time.

- You make a product that has no practical purpose designed to addict children and waste time.

Next: Teachers trolling
Валерий Крылов: flowjusty_tylor on April 23rd, 2016 10:54 am (UTC)
Alex St. John is a person responsible for "accidentally" choosing left-handed coordinate system in Direct3D, totally ignoring existing domain knowledge and industry standards. From what I see now, his behavior stays the same.
Dennis Gorelikdennisgorelik on April 23rd, 2016 11:01 am (UTC)
Do you mean Alex St. John chose left-handed coordinate system in Direct3D because he likes to piss people off?
Валерий Крылов: flowjusty_tylor on April 23rd, 2016 11:17 am (UTC)
No. Maybe too sociopathic to care about it. He has tendency to make accidental decisions and then post-rationalize (instead of doing research before making decisions).
Dennis Gorelikdennisgorelik on April 23rd, 2016 08:11 pm (UTC)
I agree that Alex's "left-handed 3d" decision was accidental and poorly researched.

But I do not think that his reasoning about 3d learning sequence complexity (due to the need to move camera in case of right handed coordinates) was just a post-rationalization or sociopathic (he wanted to reduce complexity for his developers).

My principal memory from that period was a meeting in which I, as the resident 3D expert on the DirectX team, was asked to choose a handedness for the Direct3D API. I chose a left handed coordinate system, in part out of personal preference. I remember it now only because it was an arbitrary choice that caused no end of grief for years afterwards as all other graphics authoring tools adopted the right handed coordinate system standard to OpenGL. At the time nobody knew or believed that a CAD tool like Autodesk would evolve to become the standard tool for authoring game graphics. Microsoft had acquired SoftImage with the intention of displacing Autodesk and Maya anyway. Whoops…
Somebody on Reddit thinks that screwing up the Left handed coordinate system in D3D was a malicious effort to thwart OpenGL. Trust me, I’m a megalomaniac, had I done it on purpose I would be crowing about it to this day. I’m always happy to take credit for a good evil trick, the truth is just boring this time… and NO it’s NOT true that most 3D coordinate systems used in physics are right handed. I just didn’t like the fact that when you draw a 3D object in positive 3D coordinates you have to move the camera in order to be able to see it, requiring a game developer who was just learning 3D programming to have to learn all about the camera in order to figure out how to draw simple 3D objects for the first time. Recall that this was Direct3D 1.0, MOST game developers we expected to use the API had never done any 3D programming.

Judging by this discussion:
left-handed vs right-handed choice was not obvious at the time.
Now it is easy to say that Alex was wrong. He says so himself.
Валерий Крылов: flowjusty_tylor on April 23rd, 2016 10:14 pm (UTC)
Actually, "most 3D coordinate systems used in physics are right handed" was true at the time of decision making. It's all clear. Right-handed or left-handed. One or another. But he did'nt fucking care. As in other cases.
Dennis Gorelikdennisgorelik on April 23rd, 2016 10:52 pm (UTC)
Under "other cases" do you mean that there were other technical choices that he made while ignoring gamedev industry knowledge and standards?
Валерий Крылов: flowjusty_tylor on April 23rd, 2016 11:08 pm (UTC)
AdWare-based business and cannibal-style employment practices.
Dennis Gorelikdennisgorelik on April 23rd, 2016 11:25 pm (UTC)
What are the mainstream choices for these things in gamedev?

In-game purchases and comfortable, low stress work environment?
Валерий Крылов: flowjusty_tylor on April 24th, 2016 12:02 am (UTC)
Nearly all stressful situations at engineer's level is a result of manager's fuckup.

Edited at 2016-04-24 12:36 am (UTC)
ex_juan_gan on April 23rd, 2016 06:20 pm (UTC)
Funny reading. Some good hints, though.
Dennis Gorelikdennisgorelik on April 23rd, 2016 08:17 pm (UTC)
> Funny reading.

His daughter's response makes it even funnier:
As his toxic waste trash fire not only is associated with my last name but also my face, I felt compelled to respond to my father’s sexist, ableist, and racist rants.

> Some good hints

What are your takeaways from that story?
ex_juan_gan on April 23rd, 2016 11:58 pm (UTC)
Zero. Some of my views confirmed, some of his views totally idiotic.
Dennis Gorelikdennisgorelik on April 24th, 2016 12:42 am (UTC)
Do you mean that some of your views about management confirmed?

What of his views are idiotic?

Edited at 2016-04-24 12:48 am (UTC)
ex_juan_gan on April 24th, 2016 01:54 am (UTC)
Not management, but "the way programmers work". Not sure about management. Maybe.
ex_juan_gan on April 24th, 2016 01:55 am (UTC)
And the views about females are idiotic, based on my experience.