A recent article on Gamasutra inspired me to throw my two cents into the discussion. The article asked the question, “Should developers be obsessive gamers — or remain outside of the influence of other titles?” This question brings up two extremes, but I believe that the answer is a happy medium between the two. Game devs, regardless of what their job is, should all be involved with games somewhat. This doesn’t mean that they need to be playing all games all the time, but they should always be at least reading about current games or watching them on youtube.
Some people say it’s better to “design in a void” and not get influenced by other titles, but I have just never felt that way. I feel like all of the games I have played/read about/watched over my whole life have given me a vast library of design knowledge to pull from. I have countless examples in my mind of fun and bad gaming experiences. Would I call myself an “obsessive gamer?” Definitely not anymore. There is no way I could find as much time to dedicate to playing games compared to when I was in middle school (and I don’t really have the desire to play that much anymore). However, I am still always out at least looking at all sorts games. If I’m not checking out a new iPad game, I may be watching a video of some other game, always on the pulse of what’s going on in the industry.