While most game devs do play games in some form or other, there are plenty of developers who are much more casual in the kind of games they play, and some who don’t play any at all. The ones who don’t play are usually the ones who are further removed from the gameplay aspects - network engineers are concerned about the flow of data over the network, graphics engineers focus on the renderer and the frame rate, security experts focus on operational security, UI artists create icons and buttons, sound designers create and mix sound effects, visual effects artists create visual effects, texture artists create skins for in-game models, prop artists create in-game objects to make environments feel alive, and so on and so forth.
These experts aren’t focusing directly on making interactable elements for the player to play with, they’re focusing on the kind of technical challenges that must be solved in order for the game to function and the interstitial building blocks needed to make the game. A graphics programmer might not play a lot of games, but we’re not paying her for her gaming knowledge - we’re paying her to improve the game’s frame rate and rendering capabilities. A server programmer makes sure that the data is stored and recalled correctly between the player’s sessions.
Large game dev teams are full of experts in specific fields. Our fields of expertise might be more player-facing, where having a depth and breadth of experience playing games helps a lot. But not all fields are player-facing - some are more technical, some are more artistic, so the additional context of playing a lot of games isn’t as helpful.
PS. Community Managers tend to be very well-versed in games (especially the game they are managing the community for). Their job is to convey the players’ feedback to the dev team, so knowing the context around that feedback is incredibly important. Knowing the game and its details are very valuable for community managers.
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