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Project Management And Industry Analysis Is Hard

After a hard day of pontificating on game industry crunch, Michael Pachter kicked this puppy.

Michael Pachter, NeoGAF’s greatest game industry analyst, has this to say about crunch (prompted by the Team Bondi and Rockstar complaints):

If you’re getting into the industry, you are going to work plenty of hours. I hear from lots of people on Twitter about these Team Bondi guys in Australia, [hearing complaints about how] they’re young and right out of school, well, don’t pick that as a profession then. If your complaint is you worked overtime and didn’t get paid for it, find another profession.

I just don’t have a whole lot of sympathy for people who say ‘I worked for such-and-such, and I didn’t get paid, and that’s not fair’. If you want to be an hourly employee, go build automobiles, and what will happen is they’ll close down your plant some day and you’ll be out of work.

My first reaction, like anyone who works in the video game industry, was “Oh. Michael Pachter. He’s either (a) wrong, (b) stating the incredibly obvious, or (c) both.”  But the problem here is that people actually pay attention to this person. Thus, they may actually believe him and think continuous crunch is normal and expected. So, in the ever-continuing compulsion of correcting people who are wrong on the Internet, I feel it necessary to actually correct some of the ridiculously glaring falsehoods in Pachter’s, er, ah, um, analysis.

So. Point by point:

  • The [Team Bondi staff] were asked to work crazy hours, I don’t know anybody in game development who calls it a 9-5 job. So that [complaint] doesn’t really resonate with me.

    That’s nice. But whether it “resonates” with you or not, expecting people to work 60 hour weeks on a regular basis is not normal. The 40 hour week exists for a reason. Really! This is not new!  And people have actually done studies about its effectiveness in the game industry! The longer you encourage your team to focus on the project to the exclusion of their lives, the worse work they will do. This has been proven, again, since the era of industrialization. This is not happy froofy hippie stuff. This is basic project management. The fact that many game companies utterly fail at basic project management does not make any less a tenet of basic project management.

  • I think [the point] that everyone is missing is that, if a game is good – and LA Noire was good – there will be a profit pool, and there will be bonuses.

    Really? Because that’s certainly news to the developers of the best-selling game ever made. But even when your publisher doesn’t make “screwing your developers” part of their business plan, in every large project, the top tier of developers – the leads, perhaps the superstar engine developers and the media-suckup designers and producers that are on Michael Pachter’s speed-dial – may have bonus packages as part of their compensation contract. Do you seriously believe that the line programmers and artists can count on profit sharing and bonuses, as opposed to, oh, I don’t know, being laid off three days after the game ships? And do you think they don’t crunch? In fact do you think that the media-whore producers on your speed-dial (who, by the way, are largely responsible for the atrocity of project management that results in crunch in the first place) do crunch?

  • Apparently there are people who don’t like McNamara, apparently there are people who think he is a tough boss. Making a game is not easy, it is a complicated process, managing the process is really hard. The LA Noire project was disrupted, and there were several false promises of finishing the game, and poor Brendan McNamara – who is probably going to be ‘rich Brendan McNamara’ – was put in the position to get his team to crunch and get it done more than once.

    OK, I’m really trying here to come up with something besides “Wow, Pachter, you’re really kind of a jerk”. And failing. I don’t know. There’s got to be something. Are we supposed to be feeling sympathy for the producer who put his team through hell so he personally could get rich while the people he was responsible for got completely screwed? Because I’m not really feeling it. Really, all I’m feeling is kind of the “Wow, Pachter, you’re really kind of a jerk” thing.

  • Sweatshops should have unions but games studios, which tend to pay people a lot of money, shouldn’t.

    Yes. Because other creative industries never do that sort of thing. Of course, if you’re Michael Pachter, you probably sympathize a lot more with, say, John Ricitello and Bobby Kotick than Joe down in QA. Even if your entire work as an analyst comes largely from Joe in QA’s posts on NeoGAF.

But really, I’m being too hard on poor Michael Pachter. First, because the man is making a living off of being an industry joke, and to be fair, he is doing a damned good job of his vocation. And second, because why should the game industry be any different from everywhere else?

  • mcl

    I agree SJ, the first ‘go to’ gadget in a bad manager’s box is ‘more chair time = more production”.

    Lengthy rant about poor managers expurgated for the sake of my dignity.

    And now … a photo of a tractor:

    http://www.zucksrototillers.com/AntramFrazerTractor.jpg

  • I know it’s difficult not to get sucked in (the xkcd comic is so right) but by giving Pachter the coverage and link love you perpetuate his celebrity.

    Best thing to do is not to read his stuff, and to drop sites that rely on him for leading opinion articles. He only matters if people read him.

  • God, the whole “oh, game dev isn’t a 9-to-5 job” crap annoys me. The Team Bondi guys aren’t bitching because they wanted to work 9-to-5 and sometime they had to stay until 6. They’re bitching about 100 hour work weeks, they’re bitching about so much unpaid overtime that some artists wound up getting paid less than they would have earned at McDonalds, they’re bitching about people getting official reprimands for showing up 15 minutes late in the morning after working – unpaid – until 3am the night before. I have no idea who this twat Pachter is, but he can blow me; and I’m sure there are 100+ Team Bondi serfs queuing up behind me for him to blow as well.

  • AaronD

    I’m waiting for your Marxo-facist philosophy to summon She Who Will Not Be Named. 🙂

  • I disagree with the general slam on Pachter, Scott, among analysts he ranks pretty high on accuracy: http://kotaku.com/356982/analyzing-the-analysts-episode-one

    That said, I do agree he’s a bit off-base here, but knowing project management really isn’t his expertise. A friend at Valve tells me they work regular hours, and they’re among the most profitable developers out there. Of course, that also means Portal 2 takes 4 fucking years to ship.

    • One might say at 6 assertions true and 4 false, that the guy is barely outperforming a coin flip. Then again, some true/false propositions are more specific than others, so you might also say Kotaku’s statistics are entirely meaningless.

    • Did you just claim that Valve’s long dev cycles are primarily driven by their short work hours? I just want to confirm that that’s what you said.

  • Sanya Weathers

    Actually, to reference “Santorum” as an example, if enough people link to a morally bankrupt ignoramus and describe him as such, it helps. In this day and age, “ignore the idiot with a more tenuous grip on reality than the corner bag lady*” doesn’t seem to accomplish anything but making the idiot rich.

    * The particular bag lady of my acquaintance is constantly screaming at invisible people trying to catch her with a net, AND pauses to say “bless you, dearheart” when you give her a bottle of water or whatever.

  • Crunch is normal because most project managers suck,  not because it is good. This is true in other software development too not just games. But what he doesn’t realize is, the 40 hour work week is not some invention of socialist pro-worker party people, lots of research has gone into it by employers (usually credited to Ford) to see how hard they could work people to get the most out of them.

    To me, this guy is not defending “hard work”, he’s defending mismanagement. “our manager suck, and we are proud!”

  • Mouse

    Great, now I can’t buy L.A. Noire either. Anybody know how Bethesda treats its developers? I was planning to build a new PC to play Skyrim, but if it’s being produced in a sweatshop I won’t bother.

  • Saddens me to death to read this stuff. I got out of game development and I miss it terribly, but I am waiting for people to wake up, and do the network thing, “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not gonna take it anymore!” It’ll bring tears to my eyes to see something like this happen. 

    Mouse, While I know from a friend who worked for a stint at Bethesda, they do treat their in-house devs quite nicely, but game development may utilize several studios for other things like testing, audio, mocap, etc. I don’t know if they have a say in how employees are treated in those studios, but sometimes they do say, “work harder” or “no OT”, but usually the former. Would be interesting to get insider info about that stuff. I’d say Valve In-House stuff is a safe bet, but they do outsource testing to EA which just fired all their QA people in favor of India/Outsourced testers.

  • Oops…

  • MattMihaly

    I have data from Sparkplay (Iron Realms has never had any sort of extended crunch in its 15 years of existence) showing very clearly that when we went into crunch, productivity increased for about 3 weeks. Then it dropped off and people were just in the office longer vs. getting more done. Having said that, I’m not sure that’s not a failure of management in and of itself rather than something inherent in working more than 40 hours a week. Zynga, for instance, runs a high-quality operation, regardless of what you think of their games, and you’d last about 1 week there if you put in only 40 hours. It’s not even crunch – it’s just how they work, and they’ve seen incredible success. It’s also how the most profitable investment banks and many of the highest quality law firms work. The common denominator there is money and having a really high-quality&motivated staff before you hit critical mass – at that point, the culture is ingrained. Ebay was an extremely hard-charging place (read: lots of long hours) for years even after its IPO, just due to the culture that was in place, for example, and new hires at Zynga today are working as hard as the existing people despite having almost no upside.

    I’m not sure that simply paying an existing staff that likes working 40 hours/week more would get you much over the long-term though. You need to be hiring a particular ‘A’ type of person that is very smart, very motivated, and entrepreneurial – in other words the kind of person that Zynga, Facebook, and Google compete over.

    I don’t have a thesis here, but just wanted to opine that it’s not as easy as saying “40 hours/week produces the best stuff.” It does in some companies, but it clearly doesn’t in others, and at the competitive edges, the harder-driving companies tend to be the winners.

  • Brask

    The trouble with the Zynga example is it isn’t a controlled experiment.  The interesting question would be if one could get their employees to cut back to 40 hours per week, would they be even more productive/profitable?  Or, from a hippie point of view, *just* as profitable, but with their employees living a more full fledged life?

    It’s really tough to tell, especially with stuff like programming which has a massive difference in productivity just from person to person.  There is a tendency for the highly skilled to also enjoy the work (which is how they became highly skilled, by doing it in their spare time!), and thus be the first to voluntarily work extra hours. We then see the 40-hour clock-stampers being massively outperformed by the 100-hour super start, perpetuating the stereotype.  It takes an immense effort of will to tell the 100-hour superstar to work less.It is well known that you can be profitable and productive *despite* 60 hours per week.  Otherwise most games wouldn’t exist :> 

  • Steve “Moorgard” Danuser

    This is the quote that got me:

    “I just don’t think people who make over $100,000 a year need a whole lot of protection cause they might have to work overtime.”

    It’s one of those ‘pickle of truth in a sandwich of shit’ kind of statements, because yeah, on the surface, it seems to make sense.

    What he doesn’t point out is that the people who *actually* get screwed by unpaid overtime and post-ship layoffs are the ones in the trenches making far, far less than $100k salary.

    Which anybody who spends any amount of time with actual developers–as opposed to executives–would understand.

    • M.

      No, it’s pretty much all shit, no pickle. Someone making >$100k who is made to crunch is getting screwed too. The money may be nicer but no amount of money can compensate for not seeing your family and losing your health.

  • Vetarnias

    Is this guy seriously suggesting to rely on unpaid internships and that “if your complaint is you worked overtime and didn’t get paid for it, find another profession”?

    For example, there are quite a few game studios in Montreal. Here is what Quebec labour standards state:

    -With a few exceptions (none of which apply to the gaming industry), a regular workweek is 40 hours. Past those 40 hours, overtime is paid at a 50% premium.

    -An employee can refuse to work (1) after 50 hours in one week; (2) more than 4 hours after regular daily working hours or more than 14 working hours per 24-hour period, whichever period is the shortest; (3) more than 12 hours per 24-hour period for an employee whose daily hours are flexible or non-continuous.

    Pachter is not merely unethical, he is openly advocating employers to break the law.  It’s okay to think the law is too generous, but it’s not okay to flout it because you don’t happen to agree with it.  

    In a way, maybe it’s a good thing his views get widely disseminated; his body of work could ironically become very handy in a courtroom. You can point at what this bastard has written and say: “THIS is how the people in charge of the industry think, this is what they do. They’re not even hiding it anymore. And the law says this, this, and this.”  

    Kotick & Co. should just urge him to shut up, for their own sake.

  • mox

    What’s “speed dial”?

  • Imp_ulse

    “speed dial” is a phone number stored in your phone that you don’t have to manually dial. IE a person you know well enough to store their phone number

  • mox
  • Sinij

     

    Stop beating around the bush and unionize already. These
    fuckers more than deserve to get unions and things WILL NOT improve on their
    own. Hollywood is unionized to the gills and manages to be profitable, no
    reason why Hollywood 2.0 (gaming industry) cannot do the same. They can’t outsource
    your jobs to China/India, if they could it would have been done by now.

    • Vetarnias

      They could theoretically do some of that work offshore.

      The difference with Hollywood is that unionization would probably be done on a game studio-by-game studio basis, and, within those studios, on an office-by-office basis. The film industry is all concentrated in New York and L.A., so that’s relatively easy  to control, but what would happen to studios with offices in different countries? I don’t think, for example, that the Canadian workforce would be controlled by a U.S. union; they would have to be separate — different mentalities, different laws, etc.  How long before the U.S. union decides to push the studios into moving out of Canada? Remember when everyone was filming in Toronto/Vancouver, and that the unions were whining about it?

      I support unions, but I don’t like the idea of an industry-wide strike, like when the WGA paralyzed everything. And soon enough, those professions would be turned into cartels.

    • Foamy

      If you’re imagining labour relations and workrules in Hollywood are a utopia, you haven’t been paying enough attention to Hollywood blogs.

      If you think they’re not actively outsourcing, you haven’t read the California Filming report (forgivable, a lot of people in the industry haven’t either) or read any of the news posts regarding The Hobbit (less forgivable).

      • Amib

        Nobody seems to be arguing that it’s a utopia, merely that it would be better than the current position, where not a few companies are run on the principle that there’s no cost to just burning people out with bad management.

  • dartwick

     As someone familiar with business in general but only  modestly familiar with the game industry I can see the rather obvious holes in this guys logic at first glance.

    Its hard to think someone can be taken seriously  and still write this stuff – unless their only real customers producers and CEOs who want to feed his blather to share holders  and investors.

  • JuJutsu

    @04699bf8eabf84a5dfb0ddaff9561c77:disqus 
    Both the UAW and the USW represent workers both in Canada and the USA.

  • jiduthie

    Other than service industries, I’m at a loss to think of another U.S. industry more ripe for unionization than the game industry.

  • dartwick

    Its really not that “ripe” at all.

    I suppose EA and Blizz maybe a few other could feasibly be unionized but as a whole it makes no sense and given the rapid nature of studio acquisitions and closings it would be almost impossible in mot cases.

  • Xaldin

    Whole thing is really stupid honestly. The management is stupidly burning out what could be long term talent so instead of people who remember the last 10 project’s mistakes and fix them before they occur again you have to get a fresh crop each time to make same mistakes over and over. The workers are stupid for putting up with that. Seriously, there isn’t a profession out there worth 100 hour work weeks. Certainly not for the pay they’re offering. Even when someone in my line of work goes to a combat zone working IT you don’t work those kind of hours. More than 40 sure (after all some ops run long)  but then we’re paid enough to make it worth while on the hours to income ratio. Even right out of college I’d have said no thanks and left. If you can’t fill all the positions because nobody will work the hours for what you’re paying then there is no product. If you’re going in to work huge hours, and not paid enough in your mind to do so, standing around complaining AFTER the fact is really just saying ‘I was an idiot.’

  • Pscl

    I don’t work in the gaming industry, I just lurk Lum’s board since the UO days.  I work in an industrial engineering environment.  A few years back we were in a similar situation where salaried engineers were working 60-80 hour work weeks as a given- it was just accepted as the industry norm.  A small handful of engineers successfuly sued their employer and got several years’ backpay/overtime.  It really put industry management on the hotseat.  Most of the engineers viewed it as ‘part of the job’ and had no intention of suing, but the industry sued itself in a class action lawsuit, deliberately lost, and set its own payout terms (which were heavily in their favor obviously).  They then offered everyone a check based on the settlement- if you took the check you lost the right to sue them individually for past grievances.  Most took it as free money since we had no intention of suing anyway.
     
    The key is that after the suit, they switched to ‘hourly’ wages.  There is a certain stigma that an hourly worker is a low paying job.  Not necessarily.  If you gaming software guys/girls switched to hourly wages at @ $60-70/hr you’d still make a similar wage- if you worked normal hours.  The key is that all the uneccesary overtime would go completely away since it is now costing your employers money. 
     
    Quality of life for us went through the roof.  From 80 hour weeks to mostly 40’s- and even management liked it because they no longer were measured by how well they could milk their cows.  Crunch still happens occasionally- but only when it is actually warranted and its not that bad because you’re generally making money hand over fist when it does.  I think its a lot cleaner solution than going union- which tends to have its own intertia and add its own ills into any industry.

  • melponeme_k

    Don’t listen to the people who are against unionization.

    All of our benefits/protections in the workplace come from unionization.  Our ancestors were literally willing to die to fight for their rights in the workplace.  And industry bigwigs frequently used thugs to make sure that many heads were broken in order to prevent unionization.

    Ayn Randism is fun for teenagers living on their parents’ dime.  But as an adult, you must realize that Randism puts all the power with bigwigs who would also love to hire thugs to make sure unionism never makes a comeback.  Randism is one of the  reasons why technology jobs are going to Asia.

    Unionize.  Then go after the bigwigs who push our government representatives to give away our jobs to Asia/South America or wherever these crooks don’t have to pay taxes.

  • gx1080

    Yep, this guy is sucking CEO cock.

    The only known solutions are: Unions and Lawsuits. Simple as that.

  • UnknownSubject

    Financial service people should never talk about unpaid overtime of other professions, given that is something that particular industry heavily abuses on the promise of a huge pay out someday. Some of the original articles indicate that Team Bondi staff were hired on a 40 – 45 hour week, not a 90+ hour week.

    He misses also passes the issue of who exactly gets paid, on one hand saying that the Team Bondi development team will get a big pay day, but then that if people were left off credits it is Rockstar’s issue to fix. Good luck for an animator based in Sydney to work that one out and chase Rockstar for his money if Team Bondi is the one who pays.

    Also, he doesn’t really mention LA Noire’s troubled development cycle and that it has taken 7 or so years to launch the game. How much money Team Bondi actually gets back will be hugely dependent on covering those debts first. Which is the problem of AAA video game development – huge upfront costs, high risk of actually making that money back. The preferred way of cutting costs? Treating development staff like serfs.

    Also not mentioned: Team Bondi won’t make another game in Australia. When they started developing LA Noire, the $AU was worth (roughly) US$0.74. Now it is worth US$1.10. Even treating your staff like crap, there is no way to overcome that expense.

  • D-0ne

    Working in the Pharma and Medical Device Industries in Validation…  Here’s the life we lead. 
    Companies fall out of FDA compliance.  Companies hire experts to fix things.  Experts work 60+ hour weeks for a couple of years.  Things get fixed.  Company lays everyone off.

  • dartwick

    at melponeme_k
    Nice straw man. This issue isnt one of “unions good/unions bad. And thats because it doesnt even even get that far. The game industry simply cant be effectively unionized.

    Its a decentralized industry with almost no infrastructure. There are only a couple of companies that are big enough to be worth the effort and they are going to easily win versus organizers for a variety of reasons.

  • Jenks

    Obligatory:

    “I don’t think there are four million people in the world who really want to play online games every month,” said Michael Pachter, a research analyst for Wedbush Morgan, a securities firm. “World of Warcraft is such an exception. I frankly think it’s the buzz factor, and eventually it will come back to the mean, maybe a million subscribers.” “It may continue to grow in China,” Mr. Pachter added, “but not in Europe or the U.S. We don’t need the imaginary outlet to feel a sense of accomplishment here. It just doesn’t work in the U.S. It just doesn’t make any sense.”

  • melponeme_k

    The game industry can be unionized.

    The reason it is decentralized is because industry (all industry) has been pushing Free Trade (which is only to their benefit).  They push all their work overseas to avoid taxes.  They get tax breaks in this country.  We have practically no tariff system so our homegrown industry is not protected.  Plus it helps our outsourcing companies because their product is not treated as foreign.

    In essence they eat off our infrastructure (crumbling as we speak) without having to pay a dime for it.  They are effectively foreign companies inside our borders.  They have decentralized to avoid taxes and to make it harder for unionization.

    Tech workers must unionize to fight these mega corps.  Its the only way.  One individual has no power to fight them, but a group of many can.  It happened in the past and it can happen in the future.  But it will be tough and dangerous.

    • dartwick

       No – its decentralized with with little infrastructure because – designing games requires almost no corporate  infrastructure. You basically need a cheap office building(and in truth most of the workers can work from home potentially) and some computers and this leads to the decentralization because you can design games anywhere.

      Saying “tech workers MUST unionize” just makes you look like a loon because the structure of the industry makes it nearly impossible.
      Yoy sound as silly as someone saying “we must cure cancer now.”

      You have confused the desirable but unfeasible, with the imperative.

  • melponeme_k

    Bring back proper corporate taxation and tariff all foreign products from overseas no matter the type and decentralization will stop.

    You don’t want to unionize?  Well, then say goodbye to more jobs.  Because our government is in the midst of making more free trade deals with India and the rest of Asia.  And all those jobs they want to send away are tech jobs.

    Before Free Trade, the US had a bustling tech industry that supported people with a living wage.

    • dartwick

       
      “You don’t want to unionize?  ”

      Would you please stop beating up that poor defenseless straw man.

    • Vetarnias

      So it’s free trade that ruined the tech industry?  I didn’t know the U.S. had free trade with India or China.

      As for “decentralization”, I’ve never worked in that industry, but it’s difficult to conceive that you get all your coders and artists to work freelance.  You still need them to coordinate their work somehow, you still have deadlines to meet.  It’s not the newspaper industry.  For some guys it could work (aren’t all composers freelance because it makes no sense to keep one on payroll for a few weeks’ work?), but for most workers on a large project, it appears to me rather impossible without facing a huge drop in productivity.

      I support unions on a workplace-by-workplace basis, and to me the unions are very much necessary in blue-collar environments. I oppose unions when they get a stranglehold on an entire profession and start dictating shit for the entire industry without much concern for workers up or down the line who aren’t affiliated with them; only the state has the legitimacy to impose something like this.

    • Some Dumbass

      “Bring back proper corporate taxation and tariff all foreign products
      from overseas no matter the type”

      Yeah, that’ll be the day. I’ll  have gray hairs coming out my asshole, along with an IV in my arm while sitting in a wheelchair with a diaper, before our beloved government makes foreign goods as expensive or a cent more expensive than domestic goods and services. There is the continuous campaign donations in exchange for free reigning globalization,  the fact that China would implode and might consider attacking us in desperation, and the alternative possibility that China demands we repay our Gov’s debt with them immediately, in return for crippling their exports of MFGs to us.

      In the face of potentially dire consequences and no more business donations to political campaigns, I’m positive you’ll need more than unions.

  • dartwick

    Im not sure what he meant by “centralization.”

    My point concerning it was simply that the game industry is not like the movie industry in the early 20th century when it unionized. Almost everyone worked in Hollywood.Game devs are all over the country.

     It would be beyond hard to get universal unions in the industry that could actually command the attention game devs.

  • John Smith

    From the industry that brought you counterfeit currency which you can exchange for imaginary items that cost nothing to produce and distribute to be used on virtual characters that you do not own on accounts you rent while paying a license for the product; slave labor! Color me surprised. 

  • jiduthie

    Look at all the reasons modern unions can’t work. See the horrible ways in which an industry treats talented workers. Fixing it will be hard in absence of political reform, but political reform is necessary to everything. The U.S. will see an upsurge in unionization or it will become second fiddle to China. Sometimes you eat the bear, and sometimes the bar eats you.

  • gx1080

    Um, taxing all cheap foreign labor would require political parties that aren’t sideshows for the stupid masses and that aren’t servants to the plutocrats. I’m not holding my breath on that one.

    Not that Randist articles like Patcher’s are better, they just skip the sideshow and go straight to suck up to the last drop of cum of the Corporatist’s cocks.

    Though all the “hurr China will conquer the world” talk is tiresome. China has serious problems of their own, is just a race of who collapses first.

    • Some Dumbass

      Serious problems of their own… like a rapid decline in their younger, working-age population that can no longer finance the legacy healthcare provisions and pensions of a now much larger retired population? Oh, I hope you’re kidding. With China’s  spotless record on labor rights and protections, it’s only a matter of time before their government extends their retirement age to “never” and completely reneg on all financial obligations to the older, more plentiful generations to prevent “collapsing”.

      Kinda like what we came close to doing, here in the US.

  • Ianax

    More crying! Hand wringing! Begging for government intervention! I eat this stuff up. Loads of adult children desperate to play games for a living find out that when a kabillion people all try for the same small number of positions you end up with low pay, poor working environments, little job security or some combination of the three.

    I wonder what a game designer does all day? I don’t know, but I bet they sit at a computer and go to meetings sometimes. You know what I do all day? I sit at a computer and go to meetings sometimes. But because entire colleges aren’t filled with children determined to work where I do, I get payed well, have moderate working hours and could land another job almost immediately if I had to. People in my line of business complain about the constant calls from recruiters, which is actually pretty annoying, but beats the alternative.

    Wish I could say I was a genius, but I started out in physics, which in a lot of ways is like game design/programming/etc. Lots of starry-eyed kids find out the BLS stats on income are crap, but are determined to work in the field no matter how little they get paid. I said to myself, “Self, this is stupid” and did something else. Not a genius, but at least I can say I’m not a fool. Can the people working at these crappy jobs they’re complaining about here say the same?

    Yea, you need a union to deal with this problem. There’s not another more obvious answer. I bet your union does everything to you you can dream of, and much more.

    • gx1080

      Whops, wrong button. I actually think that you are an idiot and your comment reads as:

      “Yummy, yummy, plutocrat semen on my tummy. Be abunch of suckers and play for the rules, nevermind that the super-bureaucrats that rule the world don’t”.

      Everybody who screams “pulling out your bootstraps” is usually a hypocrite.

  • Brask

    gx1080, your comment confuses me if it is responding to Ianax.  Ianax didn’t mention bootstraps.  Instead, Ianax refers to a well estabilished economic fact that there if your job is “sexy”, you will get your wages cut.

    Adam Smith best described it when he documented that actors were disproportionately well paid.  He noted that actors were considered the lowest of the low, uniformly dismissed as people of dubious moral character.  Thus there was little competition for acting jobs and they could command high prices.  In the ensuing centuries, we’ve reformed the image of acting so it is now a glamorous pursuit.  We’ve also drastically increased the amount of money made as a result of actors.  But what has happened to actor salaries?  Well, you likely want to wait tables to pay your bills if you are going to take that “profession” – it is more of a hobby!  And this, please note, is *with* a union/guild in place to prevent things from truly bottoming out.

    A union is definitely one approach.  Another approach, however, is to eliminate this idea that game development is some special, “best job in the world” gig.  If you truly want to make games, the game development industry is likely the last place you want to go.  Instead, find a more obscure, better paying niche, with reasonable hours.  And make games as a hobby.

    This isn’t playing by the rules – working 100 hours a week at a game studio is playing by the rules.  This is refusing to play the game because the deck is stacked against you.

  • Cymbaline

    Don’t get me wrong – I think that the work hours that people in the gaming industry endure are total bullshit, as is almost everything surrounding what your average (i.e. non-CEO) gaming company employee endures, like being laid off after delivering a record-breaking project, having CEOs talk about sucking all the fun out of your job, and son on.  That said…

    You have a choice.

    This is not some kind of weird, arcane field, like, writing oncology research grant applications, where it can be difficult to find another job in the same field.  This is (for a significant portion of the company, anyway) software development.

    Software developers are needed damn near everywhere, and by and large, they get paid well, enjoy comfortable work environments, and work reasonable hours.  If you can write games for a living, you can write enterprise web apps for a living, believe you me.  The former is harder than the latter.

    I should know, because I went to school for computer engineering, with the intent being to enter the games industry.  On doing a little research into it, I decided to avoid the games industry and write games on my spare time, with my employer effectively paying me for training on the issue.  I work 40 hour weeks, get paid well, and browse sites like this on my free time.  It’s pretty okay!

    Look, software engineers working for horrible, abusive mega-corps: if you complain about 100 hour work weeks and keep working for the same damn people putting you through them, [i]you are complicit[/i].  It’s like someone bitching about how Diablo 3 requires always-on internet to play, and then going out and buying the game anyway.  You’re an enabler.  Quit.  Get out.  Get another job.  You can.  I am certain of it.

    In my wildest dreams, all the employees that work for such abusive companies quit their jobs, walk out, found their own gaming studios, and instead of having 10 soulless AAA rehashes a year created by glassy-eyed, soul-sucked “human resources”, we have  100 interesting, unique, indie games a year created by happy, well-balanced people passionate about their jobs.

  • Thanks Scott, you pretty much wrote down my thoughts when I saw the video. Even if working 60 hours is normal it should not be and is the result of not planning properly with the given resources.