I am a 15 year old high school student who is a programming enthusiast. I have started a software & tech "company." I say this in quotes because we have not incorporated legally, we do not pay our workers, and we do not make money as of right now. We are the classic basement startup, with bi-monthly meetings literally "in my mother's basement."

Currently, we are developing a videogame. I am the main programmer of the game, but under my command I have many other high school students. Some of these do music, some of them do art, some of them do writing. (Our game is very story-centered)

I have a serious problem. My art team, currently consisting of three high schoolers, is very inefficient. (They procrastinate everything) Art team has been rocky from the start, with people leaving and others joining over time. As it stands, I have 3 artists in my art team.

My question is this: Without adding new artists, how do I motivate my artists (and my crewmen in general) to do stuff? I can't pay them, as we make no money and I would quickly run out of money. I guess this is more of a "club" than a "company," though we treat it somewhat like a company. I don't want to threaten to fire them as my only motivation. I want to somehow reward them for their achievements and promote EFFICIENCY. I really want to show them how much I appreciate their work, without making it weird or "cringy." What are some motivating factors?

Any help would be awesome!

  • 4
    What was their motivation for joining your team? It really helps to know what drives people. – Erik Jul 7 '18 at 5:40

As everyone has different motivators, the only realistic way to find out how to motivate them is to ask them.

For those who enjoy working with you, find out what they enjoy about it. For those that have left, ask them what makde them leave. But for all of them, ask them what they want to get out of it.

  • Is it just being in a club?
  • Do they want money?
  • Do they want to create something?
  • Do they enjoy being your "art team" or do they feel they are your equals or superiors?

Speak to them - they will give you far better indication as to what they want than we can over the internet :-)


Eh. I would just do it yourself. Hate to be blunt but, in my experience, especially when you are not paying people (even more so with younger kids), if they don’t have the motivation from the start then they never will. You will most likely have the most motivation out of the entire group. Additionally, since these are high school kids, they most likely have other commitments whether it is sports to social events to school. They will probably prioritize that over your project.

I am in high school also :) and a programmer (check my profile. I want to go into cyber security, I digress...) I have learned from a very young age that if I want something done I have to do it. Hence why I have created my own, games, websites, programs, server, etc. all self-taught on my own (not bragging just try to encourage and motivate). Self-teaching also really helps with self-reliance. Not to say you shouldn’t ask for help...

If you need help that’s fine to ask. And I encourage you to do so. But! I have found asking for specific things (“Yo Bob, I need some help with creating the Empire State Building in Photoshop Can you help?” ) instead of getting a “team” together (“ok team let’s make a game centered around New York. Bob, you work on making buildings.”) works much better.

Also if you are like most programmers, you code in blocks of time (4-6-8 hours+). And since your motivated you will probably end up getting things done very quickly. Unmotivated people, will not be able to keep up. They will slow you down.

Note: I am not saying this as fact, this is all from personal experience.


This is a difficult situation and you have to consider the possibility that they will never deliver the amount, quality or at the deadlines you want. After all, the "main job" of all you guys is going to school. Everything else is either hobby or additional stress.

I don't know how you set up the tasks for your art team, but if the story is completely set and they have to produce images or animations following that story board, there is not much fun in that. Sounds to me like a boring job description and not at all like a hobby.

So make a special meeting for your art team. Maybe include someone responsible for the story line. Do some brainstorming with sketches and concepts, have some crazy and funny ideas together. Let your art team influence a scene or chapter with their ideas and record them in quick sketches. If the meeting went well and was fun, it should be enough incentive for at least some of them to work on "their" scene. Rinse and repeat until either they loose interest or are hooked enough that they cannot abandon "their" story now.

Make sure you set some basic rules for these meetings. Write down fixed plot lines that cannot be changed due to finished development. Insist that if someone has an idea, they should promise to actually deliver the necessary art work.


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