Just Script It

Oh Trenches, you did it again. This isn’t the first time this comic has hit a spot for me. I suspect it won’t be the last either.

The big punchline here is that the main character is again asked why he just didn’t write a script to do the mind-numbing, repetitive task that he was so intent on complaining about. Several times I’ve found myself asking coworkers the same question: why didn’t you write a script to do that? Sometimes the question is well-received. Sometimes not so much.

Do not question my workflow!

Why didn’t you write a script to do that?

It’s not meant to be chiding, though it can easily come off that way. And sometimes, there are perfectly good reasons to hand-jam a lot of data. But often, there aren’t.

Look, I understand that scripting and automation are not easy for a lot of people. Especially for those who don’t spend nearly every working hour cooking up algorithms to solve problems and then debugging them when they don’t work as expected. That being said, making video games is a technical art. Working with computers and the large amounts of data they produce is a fact of life. It behooves anyone who wants to excel in this industry to at least have a sense of what parts of a workflow can be automated even if they aren’t capable of writing the scripts to do so themselves.

I’m often amazed at how much grunt work some people can put up with because I find myself so naturally disposed against it. Now, I don’t want to downplay the benefits of that sort of endurance. Sometimes you just need to put in some serious butt-in-chair time to get things done.

Still, if I’m working and my mind isn’t spinning and engaged, I can’t help but feel like I’m doing my job wrong. As a human being working in a knowledge industry, I presume that the biggest asset I bring to the table is my ability to think and use my, well, knowledge. So, if I’m not doing that; that is to say, if I’m checking out mentally while my fingers do the same thing over and over again, aren’t I essentially being a rip-off? Being an automaton even though I’m paid to think?

To put it more bluntly, why would I hire someone to do a job I could program a computer to do? Computers are much cheaper than people. Sure, they’re dumb. But they work really, really hard.

So, leave the repetitive stuff to the machines. Script out the boring stuff whenever you can. Think. That’s the fun part. That’s the human part. You know, “cogito ergo sum” and all that jazz. Use your head or you’ll just spend all your time being used.


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