How I Became a Team Player (In 4 Easy Steps)

People who know me well will probably tell you all about how I’m a valuable asset to any team, bringing to the table creativity, enthusiasm, positivity, mad skillz, and whatever other stuff people like to put on their resumes when applying for internships or tryharding life in general. People who know me the best will tell you how that’s all bullshit. I am, or rather was, a horrible team player. I’d always insist on hardcarrying group assignments, either out of distrust for other people’s work (deeply grounded in my elementary school team experiences, which were horrible), my signature Serbian stubbornness, or an acute attack of controlfreak-ism (that was my ex-girlfriend’s bad influence, I swear). So when we first got an assignment to write a CYOA novel in Twine, I was skeptical as to how it was gonna turn out to say the least. Nothing could’ve prepared me for what happened next…

Now you too can become a team player if you follow these four easy steps:

1. Team building

Team building? More like team bleeding, am I right? Not necessarily. Sometimes the best way to succeed at working with your team, even when you’re running on a short clock, is by not working at all… for a while at least. When this project was first assigned, I spent like two hours after class ended still sitting in the Converse lobby with Alien and Wolf, of which maybe 15 minutes were spent actually talking about the assignment. The one time we actually met as a group after that, we agreed that we were too busy and sleepy to do anything other than write the three sentences that were our introduction. Instead, we talked about Dragon Age, The Last of Us, Dontnod Entertainment’s games, Hampshire College’s lack of grades, majors, exams and all the things that make college college, and so on and so forth. In my arrogant, self-absorbed eyes, that transformed my teammates from “these weaklings I have to carry” into real human beings on, or slightly above, my intellectual level, with whom I share a lot of common interests and from whom I could likely learn a lot. Of course, at this point, I would expect my stubbornness to kick in and prevent me from keeping an open mind, but that’s where Step 2 proved vital…

2. Knock yourself out

Literally. Thanks to my orgo exam, my groups/rings/fields exam, working security at 3 different events over the weekend and having recently acquired a PS3 and taking it upon myself to grind out at least all the premium cars in Gran Turismo 6, I spent the last week running on barely any sleep, or food for that matter. It turns out that was all I needed to become more malleable and receptive to others’ opinions. For instance, when I made a *~*FaBuLoUs*~* new stylesheet for our Twine project and Alien bitched me out for making the text too tiny and not thinking about the visually impaired among the potential players (or just ridiculously rich people running a 2560×1600 res on a tablet screen or something), I was too tired to protest, so I just sucked it up and reverted the change. In time, as my big Slavic head cooled off, I realized the importance of accessibility in game development, and stopped taking constructive suggestions as personal attacks. Though to be honest, it did take me a while to actually go on and revert, which brings me to my third point…

3. Synchronized procrastination

I can’t stress this enough – figure out the procrastination schedule of your teammates. If you can get your timing just right, you can all set deadlines for yourself in a manner that will allow you to all post your respective “Sorry, I didn’t have time to finish my story arc”s in your Skype group chat at the exact same time, and probably remain in sync until the project’s completion, the very afternoon that it’s due. As long as you’re all on the same procrastinatory page, no one will have to feel bad for not keeping pace with the group, and putting off the necessary work will prove to be healthy, as when the deadline comes, knowing that you don’t have time for a redo and that you absolutely must not fuck up will drive you to be much more productive than you normally would be. Still, this alone won’t help you unless you follow Step 4, the most important of them all.

4. Pray to RNGesus

A lot of things in life are random. Many will say they are only seemingly so, that there are no coincidences, yada yada, but those people can go back to their philosophy class or their affluent new age commune (nothing wrong with either, by the way) – a lot of things in life can be considered random for all intents and purposes. Case in point, you don’t really know what kind of people are gonna be in your group until you have that first team meeting. So if you haven’t spent your time praying to RNGesus on a regular basis, you might not get as incredibly lucky as I did a couple of weeks ago. It just so happened that Wolf and Alien are two of the most awesome people I’ve met and I definitely would not be writing this now if not for them. So let me wrap this up with a staple of the League of Legends community that I shamelessly belong to, and the credo of all arrogant people across the world: If your team sucks, there’s really not much you can do. So yeah, RNGesus is crucial. That, and not being That Guy who makes the team suck in the first place. But that’s a different article topic altogether.You are now a team player. You’re welcome.

7 thoughts on “How I Became a Team Player (In 4 Easy Steps)

  1. This is a very interesting reflection on teamwork. You nicely blend your personal experiences with solid advice. I also like how the overall steps are general enough to be widely applicable. That being said, I’m curious about the choices in numbering. While these events seems to follow your experiences chronologically, I see no reason for them not to occur in tandem or in a wholly different order.

    1. I hope this doesn’t burst too many bubbles, but the ordering really has more to do with my approach to writing than anything else. I write most of my stuff in one go, as it comes to me, without really planning it out in advance. Once I’m done, I take a look at it, and if it doesn’t look horribly unstructured, I publish it 🙂 This was originally intended as a humorous article, but I definitely did try to include some of my more serious thoughts on team dynamic there; glad you could catch on! And I wholeheartedly agree that these can happen in any order at all, or even simultaneously. Thanks for your input!

  2. I saw you guys talking there after class. I have to admit I was kind of jealous. Not that my group was bad. (In fact, I really like what we produced, and each held up their end of the bargain a little better than I think I did… oops.) You guys just looked like you were having a lot of fun, and I know I would have enjoyed participating in those conversations.

    1. Tell you what – there might be a chance for that after all. I’m gonna be doing pizza & gaming nights throughout spring break; keep your eyes peeled for an invitation, maybe even right here on the blog if I run out of other things to write about 😛

      1. Heh, sounds fun. Don’t hold your breath too hard, though, I’m a 5Cer who is behind in his classes and rushing to catch up.

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