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Nik Makepeace

 Scrum Master & DevNet Developer

 

Location: SCEE Central, London

Education:  er, Psychology and Philosophy degree

Hometown:  Bristol, UK

 

What skills did you need to get started in programming video games?

I don't know the first thing about programming video games! It's a common misconception that all the programmers here are games programmers, but there are many, like my entire department, who don't program games at all. And then there are those, like MIS, Operations, and my team who don't even program PlayStation platforms. We're web application developers, and our backgrounds range from CompSci degrees to an ex-cycle courier with a liberal arts degree. The main skill needed is an ability to decompose big problems into the right smaller ones, but that's probably true of any programming discipline.

What does your role involve?

I have two roles really. I am the Scrum Master and a developer in the DevNet development team. We are responsible for the PlayStation developer support infrastructure: it's a large and very complex web application. As Scrum Master, I spend my time making sure that management and staff alike stick to the 'Scrum' development process that the team all signed up to. Scrum provides a strong framework for software development and the Scrum Master helps everyone to stick to it. My time is split about half and half between these two roles, and they're both extremely rewarding.

What has been your biggest success story at PlayStation?

Rather than any particular feature I've helped to implement, I think it was the transition from an ad-hoc development process to using Scrum that I'm most proud of. In about a year we managed to turn the team around from a state of near-paralysis to a responsive, high-performing, close-knit team that the boss and our customers are getting happier with every week.

What do you love about your job?

Every Friday evening we present the last week's work to our customers, both in person and via video-conferencing. When it all goes well, when they get what they asked for and they like what they see, it really makes everyone glow. It's such a fantastic way to start the weekend, knowing that the last week's work was worthwhile and is already valued.

Describe life at PlayStation.

I should probably write about the vibe in the office, the informality and approachability of my colleagues and so on, but to be honest what really matters to me apart from my amazing team are two things: the location in the heart of the West End, and the incredible amenities: the secure parking for my bike, the showers which make me presentable after the ride, and the canteen which serves me the breakfast of champions every morning.

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