When Software engineering becomes a game

4 min readNov 19, 2023

From a Dota gamer’s perspective

A monthly 1:1

“What did you do over last weekend?” I asked a developer in my team.

“Play game,” he said.

“What kind of game” I asked.

“switch, some RPG, or Dota,” he said.

“I am an old gamer, I played Dota too,” I said.

“do you find something in common when we play Dota and do software engineering?” I asked.

“You mean teamwork?” He said.

“Yes, especially the team fight process”.

When software engineering becomes a game

Let’s start in this way. one day our sales guy brought our team a paid game, let’s call it “software money game”.

  • There are different heroes like Dota in this game. we call them roles(PM, dev, QA, support)
  • Everyone starts with a different level
  • Engineering VS Requirements
  • Customer happy or requirement done, we get paid, win the game

Let’s put them side by side

Okay so look at the “Dota game”. how many problems you can find?

  • The carry is still far away from screen farming, so not engaging in the team fight
  • tanker was late. who is expected to take the damages.
  • there is no focus on the fight. everyone is focusing on a different enemy
  • In other words, everyone seems to play their own game

Now let’s look at the software engineering portion. what you can find?

  • There is no control over the requirement
  • The project manager tries to “parallel” the task which leads to dev1 never talking to dev2, they work on each other’s task. the development process was actually slowed down.
  • PM suddenly told dev1 and dev2 to work together on #3. whatever has been halfway done on #1 and #2 is now left behind (or wasted)

What can be improved?

  • Focus, Kill/Sign off one by one. no back-and-forth




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