Three months in mentoring

It was a beautiful day in July, during our honeymoon with my wife traveling across Sri Lanka, when the mentoring topic came up on twitter again. All thanks to the forward thinking Sri Lankan mobile providers I had internet access almost everywhere and while being driven around I had the time to catch up on what’s happening in the world. When the mentoring list was first announced I was really happy to sign up and I was waiting for people to reach out to me but nothing happened. (Later it turned out that some people might have been averted by my twitter message privacy settings but hopefully not too many.) After mentioning this to Stephanie she wrote a post rallying the troops to contact me and in 5 minutes my twitter account exploded.

In the first few days I got around 500 new followers and almost no actual mentoring requests. There were a few people reaching out, saying how much they appreciated The Witcher 3 or the fact that I’m willing to mentor people. After the first few days everything slowed down but I started getting a steady flow of questions and interesting conversations began to emerge.

I had no expectations towards the people contacting me and I had no expectations towards myself either other than do the best I can to help them. I wasn’t going to force anyone to have weekly calls or anything like that but I was up for doing it if someone really thinks they could benefit from it.

I’m not gonna draw statistics because I don’t like to reduce people to numbers but there are a few key observations I would like to make.

  • In these three months I haven’t got a single recruiter reaching out to me on Twitter. I treat this as a great success, the call to mentoring is not used for headhunting yet.
  • I was contacted by a very diverse set of people from all around the world. I think there is no continent where I didn’t get at least one message from. (Ok maybe not from Antarctica :))
  • All people who reached out either wanted to say something nice or wanted to get help with something. Again very positive.
  • The questions were very diverse. Ranging from advice on finding the first job to managing a company, from engine architecture to how to solve a specific issue in the code.
  • From these only a handful of conversations evolved into more elaborate email/chat/skype discussions and I tried to stay flexible to whatever the needs are.
  • Unfortunately a lot of people reached out to me asking for gameplay programming advice which is not really my thing so I had to politely turn them down. It wouldn’t be good for either of us to get into serious discussions about something I know very little about.
  • Most people were very polite and generally nice to talk to. There were cases where I felt there is something wrong in the communication but I tried to account these to cultural differences and such. It’s hard to assess over twitter who is arrogant and who is just not good at communication.

It has definitely been a journey to get to know so many unique individuals and peek into their lives. Today I’m up to more than a thousand followers which is at least a 7 times increase from before. I know that most of this comes from beign mentioned by someone with a huge following basis but I try to live up to this. With all the mentors on the list I feel that we are building a much healthier, much more inclusive game industry. This is an important step on the way. If you are still thinking about reaching out to any of the mentors please don’t hesitate, it really doesn’t cost anything and you have nothing to lose.

I would like to thank everyone who mustered the courage to write to me. I am really grateful for the opportunity to be able to help.

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