This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

Activision wants to kill your dog.

There’s something developers and gamers need to realize, and they need to realize it now.

This sort of activity isn’t limited to Activision or EA.

This strong-arm, fear-mongering happens almost every day at almost every studio.

How many stories like Activision vs. Infinity Ward, Rockstar San Diego, EA Spouse, etc, are you people going to need to hear before it starts to sink in that these encounters aren’t exceptions. The only exception is that these are the stories you get to hear. These are the ones made public. And for each of these stories made public, there are literally hundreds of similar stories I could share from just about every major developer and publisher in the industry that you haven’t heard.

And this is why I absolutely cannot stand hardcore gamers. Because despite all this crap in the news, and all the underlying issues they don’t hear everyday, they’ll still post in a forum somewhere that it wouldn’t matter to them. They’d work in these sort of conditions if it meant they could work on their beloved, precious video games. They offer to work longer hours for less pay. They’ll say things like “Well, that’s every job” or “At least you get to work on games”. And they have no god damn clue what the hell they are talking about.

And then the management sees this and uses it against us, the actual developers. “See, look, here’s 20 people who will do you job in worse conditions for less money and not complain about it.”

Lovely.

Thanks a lot guys. We appreciate it.

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10 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. lol… i like how you blame “hardcore” gamers.

    hardcore gamers generally are very interested and involved in the gaming community.. they see things like this and are most likely to get upset that their idols (the guys that get to work on games all day) are being treated like crap…

    personally i think it’s the casual gamers who don’t give 2 shits about anything industry related and just buy whatever is shoved in front of their face by marketing and big money publishers that are the cause of this problem… it’s the casual gamers and their wallets who have turned the industry from an innovative, creative, exciting place to work into something so commercialized and greedy that big ugly evil conglomerates can make the kind of money they do by treating their employees this way… and the competition created by this then forces all other companies to behave the same way in order to stay competitive.

    the fact of the matter is, the people you’re describing are idiots… not hardcore, not casual, just idiots…. idiot-itis doesn’t discriminate based on the types of games you play or how you play them… it can strike anywhere at anytime…. the people you’re describing are simply idiots, their gaming style doesn’t have anything to do with it.

    also keep in mind that pretty much anyone who says anything about these issues are inherently hardcore gamers because the casual gamers just don’t know about it, or if they do, they don’t really care… so you’re inherently only hearing opinions from hardcore gamers, you have no idea what casual gamers actually think… because they simply are not part of the conversation.

    all that being said… i totally agree that the way the industry does business is simply unacceptable… i just don’t think blaming “hardcore” players is the right way to look at it.

    • I’m not blaming them for creating the circumstances.

      I’m blaming them for constantly throwing gasoline on the bonfire.

  2. wouldn’t it be better if the bonfire was never created?… it seems to me like you’re making the common mistake of only addressing the symptoms, and not identifying the true problem.

    but you’re right that the gasoline doesn’t help anything… but neither does blaming the people that throw the gasoline…

    then again this post probably wasn’t meant to be constructive or insightful… it was just to get something off your chest and make you feel better… sorry if i’m analyzing it too much… i just see too many mistakes in your logic to not comment on them.

    i’ve really enjoyed your other posts… but this one is just dripping with too much emotion and bias and (misplaced) hate for my tastes.

    • The truth is that the entire game industry has a systemic problem that can’t be easily solved or pinned down to a simple set of causes and issues.

      There are so many entangled issues within the industry, that trying to make sense of it and narrow down the root causes would probably be multiple posts, at the very least, identifying and understanding what is wrong and how we can fix it.

      There have been several hundred pages of posts about these issues in the IGDA forums. And every discussion usually ends with developers coming to the depressing conclusion that there is no hope of fixing the problems plaguing the industry without a massive and forced change at the managerial and executive level. Which we, as employees and gamers, cannot control ourselves.

      Many have suggested a union, even more have fought against it. And that’s one of the core issues of the industry is that some of the developers are apathetic to work environment. They don’t care that they have to work 80 hours a week of unpaid overtime. They don’t mind coming in at all hours of the night to fix bugs, reboot servers, or hold midnight launches. They sacrifice their health, families, and lives for the company. And the companies are all too eager to exploit this fact. And these individuals drag the rest of us down with them. Until we get rid of these individuals or convince them to start caring more about their spouses and own personal well-beings than “making video games”, we, as employees, are fighting a losing battle.

      And, just for reference, these “problem employees” I’m referencing were, at one point, the hardcore gamers I’m talking about in the post. The ones who eventually got hired and are now rotting away the quality of life of game developers from the inside.

  3. I worked in the games industry.

    I saw the power imbalances between the mega publishers and the small studios (and in my country, small studios are the only kind that exist).

    I left the industry.

    My advice to gamers that want to make games: get a regular corporate 9-to-5 programming jobs. Make games in your free time. You’ll have more money than working in the games industry, and more fun.

  4. that’s what I do. Well put Carson.

  5. Sounds to me like a union would really help out here. It’s kinda hard to blame people who consume your product most though for the problems in the industry.

    It’s not much different in the other entertainment fields though. Poeple clamor to be musicians and movie stars, gobble up all the content, then say they’ll do it for bread crumbs just for the luxury of following their passion. The movie industry got smart quick and unionized. Music is crumbling internally because true talent is staying away from the labels (do to insane working conditions) and then they can barely make a living as indie artists… seems like one option is better than the other to me.

  6. Why you guys blame gamers? I mean majority of gamers are too dumb to do any serious thinking let alone any coding so why it matters – they dont know anything anyways.

    Game devs should ditch publishers. Yes I know easier said than done. But you can distribute trough the net (=free) and there are many successful examples of that. Problem is asset creation and core tools and engine development (requires money*time).

    Solution is to stop making new engine and new art assets for every new game, use more middle ware , develop new financing models (say you get to use engine for free or very cheaply in development phase and pay the price when it hits the market, expand and widely used art assets available in commons licenses , etc)

    Well what do I know though -I regular non gaming IT jobs cause job security is better :/

    • Well, here’s another dirty little secret of the industry . . .

      With the exception of Art, you don’t actually have to know what you are doing to work in the industry. Social status trumpts skill. Being friends with the Producer will get you a promotion and a raise over someone with higher education level, skill level, and even experience level. I’ve seen first year designers be promoted over better designers who have been working at the company for 5+ years just because they hang out with someone at the top.

      It’s all about who you know, quite literally, even after you have the job.

      So when we hear these comments from “gamers” who just so happen to know a CM or Developer on the team, we cringe. Because we know they’re one or two steps away from being hired. And once they are, we’re screwed. Because they’ll do whatever they are told because this is “their dream job”. And they’ll be promoted over other people based solely on their social status within the company.

      Now, before someone starts spouting “Well that’s every company!”, I’m not saying it isn’t. But at most corporations, it isn’t as blatantly obvious and it isn’t the only deciding factor in hiring and promotions. In the games industry, it is everything. Nothing else really matters all that much.

      And any developer who says otherwise is lying, or has a friend(s) in a high place and doesn’t realize that’s the real reason they keep getting promotions and raises.

      • Now that really IS every industry ;-}

        Good insight tho. The kids need to be reminded that the industry they’re feeding to and from is young and stupid.

        Keep raging against the machine, bro!


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