The Baxters Battle Bad Guys with SuperBetter

Get 'em, boys!
There are several categories of things that affect our work and our ability to work. In this post, and the next two that follow, we’ll take a look at what they are and how the design and development of SuperBetter helps people – and our business – become more resilient.

Resilience. It’s a funny one, that word. Just when we think it’s tapped out or overworked, it pops right back up in our faces when we log in to our SuperBetter Secret HQ. That’s right, Natron Baxter is getting SuperBetter at working together so we can make better games.

Let’s start with bad guys. They hide just about everywhere in our offices, it seems. They take many forms, from the echo chamber that is a sometimes wonky Skype call to the nap-inducing cushion of a living room sofa to the ad hoc and wasteful ways of getting things done. We battle these various traps, blockers, symptoms and triggers in the name of finding more rewarding ways to develop games.

And it seems to be working.

When telecommuting tools stand between us, we brush them aside in favor of face-to-face meetings. When the creature comforts of home tempt us to take a break, we find a common space to help us concentrate and collaborate. And when we aren’t clear about why we’re doing what we’re doing, we take a few steps back and see where we went awry before mending the problem.

Ryan Larson, Natron Baxter creative director and resident Milwaukeean, put it best when he said recently, “Something we can’t lose sight of is recognizing that there’s more than the project keeping the group together. There’s the shared experience in that, but there’s also the shared experience of us all being people. In order to appreciate things together, to appreciate each other, we still need that personal connection no matter how many time zones are in between.” Not only are we each working toward individual goals and epic wins, we are each other’s best allies.

Rebounding from the little – and sometimes big – bad guys we encounter is made all the more possible when we turn to our allies for help. In developing SuperBetter we met and worked with several linchpins who, in turn, introduced us to other talented people when the unexpected happened. Our allies, it turned out, were often our power-ups when bad guys appeared.

But sometimes power-ups weren’t people at all. Kat Neville, SuperBetter front-end coder and founder of the Liphook, UK-based web design agency Capra, spends much of her day coding, writing, and designing apps for clients. Her day is loaded with bad guys. Being able to grow stronger in the middle of a 13-hour workday is a priceless luxury for Kat, and the power-ups she uses to plow through them result in better work and work relationships.

So when her Spaniel, Kenny Dogleash, needs a walk, she relishes the time away from the home office to grab lunch and clear her mind. Undoubtedly a simple pleasure, her example perfectly illustrates the effectiveness of good design. As she and Ryan have each said, “The best design works well.” Being able to apply the principles of fighting bad guys on her walk to lunch makes fighting the ones that face her on screen that much easier.

But when it doesn’t, when design feels tedious or antagonistic, finding a remedy as convenient or effective as one might hope is often challenging to the point of exhaustion. And it’s exactly in this moment when resilience comes into play. It tells us to keep going, to iterate, to improve upon “good enough.” It reassures us that we can make mistakes and live to fix them. Put simply, it reminds us how strong we really are and propels us on our quest for an epic win.

Bad guys will always stand in our way of making great games, and confronting them head on is the only way we will win.

Now that you know some of our bad guys, what are yours and how do you beat them?

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