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Frustration and Unhappiness In the Games Industry 422

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-blame-the-schools dept.
Gamasutra's Leigh Alexander recently wrote an editorial about the atmosphere of irritation and dissatisfaction that pervades all aspects of the video game industry. Developers are often overworked and unfulfilled, gamers have no qualms about voicing their disapproval (sometimes quite warranted, sometimes not), and the media, in trying to please both groups, often fails to satisfy either. Why is there so much strife in an industry ostensibly focused on having fun? From the article: "More and more developer sources I talked to suggested that fatigue, hostility, being at odds with one's employer and questioning one's career course is frighteningly common in the game industry. That being the case, it seems natural that elements like emotional detachment, anxiety and a lack of fulfillment make their way, even subtly, into the products the industry creates and into the ecosystem around the industry and its audience. 'Because of the secrecy and competition, a lot of development teams end up having a siege mentality — batten down the hatches and refuse to come up for air until the game's done,' says [an] anonymous developer. 'Game development has a way of taking over your life, because there's always more that can be done to improve perceived quality. I've seen a lot of divorces in my time in the game industry. I feel like it's much greater than average, but I have no statistical evidence.'"
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Frustration and Unhappiness In the Games Industry

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  • work is work. work sucks. nobody promised you work would be fulfilling. get over it.
    • by couchslug (175151) on Sunday July 25, 2010 @01:43PM (#33022078)

      That's actually the truth, of which we will be gently reminded by the current economy. Work usually sucked throughout human history. Non-suckful working conditions are not the norm.

      The way labor gets to vote is to leave for greener pastures.

      • by iluvcapra (782887) on Sunday July 25, 2010 @02:42PM (#33022454)
        I think it says a lot about how much people have internalized the "management"/corporatist/Randroid line when someone argues with a straight face that living with constant anxiety about your employment and having working hours that afford you no personal life are simply "the norm."
        • by Pinky's Brain (1158667) on Sunday July 25, 2010 @02:51PM (#33022528)

          There is a difference between how things should be and how they are.

          For the foreseeable future there will be no full employment, so employers will start degrading working conditions ... it shouldn't be normal, but it is still the norm.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by iluvcapra (782887)
            GP was using "norm" in the sense of normative, you are using "norm" in the sense of prevailing local conditions.
          • by nhaehnle (1844580) on Sunday July 25, 2010 @03:15PM (#33022720)
            It's called standing up for your rights.

            Seriously, unless you work for a megacorporation where the management is totally detached from the actual workforce, you are working under a boss who, in many cases, is human, too. Talk to him or her about how a better working environment has many (unfortunately hard to quantify) positive side effects for the company as a whole. Particularly people frequenting Slashdot should work in jobs where that case isn't hard to make, i.e. knowledge related jobs.

            Heck, even assembly line factories profit from having happy workers that, due to being content with their work, self-identify with the work being done and come up with ideas to improve the workflow. Of course, the case is somewhat weaker than in e.g. software development, but it's still true.

            That's why workers mustn't be afraid to organize. Companies where workers have some say actually do better on average than companies that are being driven by the McKinseys of the world - because despite all their fancy titles, the latter don't actually know what they're doing (on average, obviously).
        • by couchslug (175151) on Sunday July 25, 2010 @04:24PM (#33023182)

          Work sucked long before there were corporations and long before Ayn Rand was born. Work is suffering in return for money.

          That is NOT to say that if you can compel better conditions through individual or collective bargaining you should not do so. Labor and management are enemies, so get what you can any way you can.

        • by Kirgin (983046) on Sunday July 25, 2010 @07:16PM (#33024216)
          Well to show people how green the pastures are on the other side. I spent some time with my brother in Sweden, he moved over there during a student exchange program. He liked it so much he stayed. Why does he like it so much? Well he works for Sony Ericsson as a programmer/engineer and to say they have a different work philosophy is an understatement. To list some of the perks: On day 1, out of university, he gets 6 weeks vacation, with the ability to bank another 2. He has 8+2 weeks now. Overtime, period....law...no such thing as "Salary employee". You are payed extra to carry a blackberry By law a person has to be no farther that 10 meters from a natural light source...even in a skyrise. They have a whole classes in architecture schools on this. Free medicare Free gym Free bereavement time no questions asked 6 months PATERNITY leave free daycare services Managers and executives that fail employee review are often pushed into no managerial roles. Sony-Ericsson is considered a slave driving company in Sweden. Google may have won "Best Employer" in the US, but they would be considered McDonald's level in Scandinavia and a lot of the western european countries.
          • by royallthefourth (1564389) <royallthefourth@gmail.com> on Sunday July 25, 2010 @07:27PM (#33024266)

            Well yes that sounds nice but doesn't he miss the free market???

            • by rawler (1005089) <ulrik@mikaelsson.gmail@com> on Monday July 26, 2010 @01:54AM (#33026442)

              “What is the essence of America? Finding and maintaining that perfect, delicate balance between freedom “to” and freedom “from.” – Marilyn vos Savant

              From my Swedish perspective, in the US, "Freedom From" often gets neglected.

              Besides, I doubt taking care of your workforce, for the cases of work where their loyalty and experience actually matters, is really bad business anyways. I do know of one example for a pure development house, where they switched from 8h workday to a 6h workday, as an experiment in productivity. The result? Staff were more focused, more creative and more productive. During the 6h workday, they produced about as much code as previously during 8, but the produced code got cleaner, with fewer bugs, saving a lot of time for new features.

          • by Dahamma (304068) on Sunday July 25, 2010 @10:30PM (#33025172)

            Google may have won "Best Employer" in the US, but they would be considered McDonald's level in Scandinavia and a lot of the western european countries.

            Except for the fact that a whole bunch of those "McDonald's" employees are now multi-millionaires. And those that missed the IPO boat are still getting paid WAY more than their equivalent in Sweden. Except for the vacation time (which is a definite lifestyle difference - most engineers I know in the US have 1/2 that much, but never use it all anyway), all of those other perks are more than made up for (ie you can pay for them yourself and still be ahead) by the higher salary.

            But hey, people have different priorities. I work with a bunch of engineers originally from a few different Northern/Western European countries with similar working conditions, and they all say they are here because they LIKE the faster pace of the work and the extra disposable income...

            • by DrgnDancer (137700) on Monday July 26, 2010 @12:51AM (#33026150) Homepage

              Except for the vacation time (which is a definite lifestyle difference - most engineers I know in the US have 1/2 that much, but never use it all anyway), all of those other perks are more than made up for (ie you can pay for them yourself and still be ahead) by the higher salary.

              It's a "lifestyle difference" because our corporate culture makes it one. Engineers in the US don't (generally speaking) not take vacation because they abhor time off. They don't take vacation because the company makes it clear to them that vacation time is bad. It's not done in any overt way. People would rebel against a company policy that says "we give you three weeks of vacation, but insist you take only half of it". It's done in the way people who actually use their vacation are treated. The way that you're subtly pushed to not be "that guy".

              I've worked in companies where the staff was subtly pushed to avoid time off. I've worked in companies where they weren't. Guess what? In the latter case, everyone finds (perfectly valid and reasonable sounding) excuses not to take time off. In the former, people make use of their vacation time and are happy to do so. I've never really met a fellow worker, engineer or otherwise, who really just liked his/her job SOOO much that they never wanted to take a few days off.

              It may very well be true that European countries overdo it. There's probably a reasonable argument there. On the other hand, it seems pretty obvious to me that a lot of American companies underdo it. There's pretty much reams of research showing that productivity at most 60-80 hour a week, never take a break, companies is not significantly different (and depending on the type of work, can even be lower) than productivity at more reasonable companies. Just because you're at work for 16 hours a day and I'm only there 8, does not per se mean you're getting more done than I am.

      • by Paul Fernhout (109597) on Sunday July 25, 2010 @09:42PM (#33024954) Homepage

        See: http://www.primitivism.com/original-affluent.htm [primitivism.com] "Hunter-gatherers consume less energy per capita per year than any other group of human beings. Yet when you come to examine it the original affluent society was none other than the hunter's - in which all the people's material wants were easily satisfied. To accept that hunters are affluent is therefore to recognise that the present human condition of man slaving to bridge the gap between his unlimited wants and his insufficient means is a tragedy of modern times."

        For the future, see Bob Black:
        http://www.whywork.org/rethinking/whywork/abolition.html [whywork.org]

        Or me: :-)
        http://knol.google.com/k/paul-d-fernhout/beyond-a-jobless-recovery [google.com]

      • "Punished By Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A's, Praise and Other Bribes" by Alfie Kohn
        http://www.amazon.com/Punished-Rewards-Trouble-Incentive-Praise/dp/0395710901 [amazon.com]
        "Have Fun at Work" by W. L. Livingston
        http://www.amazon.com/Have-Fun-at-Work-Livingston/dp/0937063053/ [amazon.com]
        "Disciplined Minds: A Critical Look at Salaried Professionals and the Soul-battering System That Shapes Their Lives" by Jeff Schmidt
        http://www.amazon.com/Disciplined-Minds-Criti [amazon.com]

    • by 91degrees (207121) on Sunday July 25, 2010 @03:55PM (#33022972) Journal
      I've worked in microchip development, flight simulators, commercial display systems, and games.

      Games sucks much more than any of the others. This is why I don't work in that industry any more.
    • by hey! (33014) on Sunday July 25, 2010 @05:02PM (#33023444) Homepage Journal

      Being fulfilled by your work isn't a promise you can trust when made to you by somebody else. It's more the kind of promise you ought to make yourself, and then keep. I've had bad days at work. Lots of them. But I've never had a job that was more pain than pleasure. Most of the jobs I've done, I'd consider doing for free if I didn't need any money. Come to think of it, all of my jobs have been like that. Is that luck? Absolutely not.

      I don't think it's true that work sucks, that it has always sucked etc. I think that no matter how good work gets, people will still find a way to be ill content, and no matter how much fulfilling work is available to them, people will still make bad choices.

      The Stoic philosophers had an interesting take on this problem (which is by no means a new one). If happiness is having all your wants fulfilled, the surest path to happiness is to restrain your wants. The more extensive and interconnected you let your desires become, the more certain you are to feel unhappy.

      Let's look at the young programmer who desperately wants to work in the games industry. Unfortunately, that's oversimplifying his wants. What he really wants is a job

      a) in the gaming industry

      b) that is interesting

      c) with excellent pay

      d) with reasonable responsibilities

      e) where he is treated with respect

      Now you can probably get any one of these desires fulfilled by a job pretty easily, but all of them? That is a tall order. A stoic career counselor (if there were such a thing), would advise a trimming of desires, and (a) would be right at the top of his list. There are so many people who want to work in the games industry, that a realistic person should see that he'll have to compromise on his other desires in order to get it.

      There are undoubtedly people working in the games industry whose talent and skill would enable them to fulfill all their desires if they just let go of (a). If they cannot let go of their other desires in order to achieve (a), they've made a bad choice.

      The good news is that if you can compromise on overvalued desires (like working in the game industry, or making a boatload of money) you can probably find a bargain on the undervalued desires, like decent working conditions and personal respect. That also requires disciplining your wants in other areas, like driving a very expensive car or collecting lots of high end home electronics. That may sound terrible, but the payoff is that you get to be happy and fulfilled.

      I've had a huge payoff on a job criterion that I got from Ralph Waldo Emerson: "Be useful to somebody; be a burden to no one." Most people never even consider the potential of a job to make the lives of people around them easier, more pleasant and rewarding. That property doesn't sound so exciting, but it is extremely undervalued in the job seeker market. That means it's bargain priced. You can get boatloads of the stuff practically for free (i.e. not compromising on other desires). I can almost guarantee that if you put that at the top of your list of job desires, you'll find work that is personally fulfilling.

      • by gregrah (1605707) on Sunday July 25, 2010 @07:26PM (#33024264)
        Right on.

        If the company that you work for is demanding that you work outrageous hours, then you're going to get burnt out no matter how interesting the work may be. It sounds like the competition for jobs in the videogame industry is just too fierce, the hours are too long, and burnout is commonplace. These folks might find that their talents are better appreciated in other industries.

        I work for a company that sells used cars online. Not exactly the glamorous position in A.I. or Computational Linguistics that I dreamed of I was studying computer science in university, and yet - I love my current job. There are so many interesting aspects to software engineering that the work itself - the thrill of trying to engineer something to be faster, more robust, or more user friendly, and the successful completion of those goals - is enough to keep me interested no matter what it is I'm working on.

        Is it a "prestigious" job? Maybe not - but then again, to the folks I work with I am a "rock star" and they really appreciate the work I do. And having a little time left at the end of the day to enjoy my wife is, in my opinion, infinitely more rewarding than any benefit I could derive from a job that did not allow me that privilege.
  • Game idea (Score:5, Funny)

    by Hoi Polloi (522990) on Sunday July 25, 2010 @01:28PM (#33021986) Journal

    'Because of the secrecy and competition, a lot of development teams end up having a siege mentality -- batten down the hatches and refuse to come up for air

    Sounds like it would make a great game!

    • by hairyfeet (841228)

      Are you kidding? With the chili dogs and other crap those guys eat the stench would make the bean eating scene in Blazing Saddles seem like a fresh summer breeze!

      As for tfa, someone here (sorry I can't find your post) said it best when he pointed out, using the classic /. car analogy, that the game industry is like car manufacturers deciding to ONLY make Bugatti roadsters. Problem is especially in this economy that is starting to smell and bloat, there simply aren't enough people spending Bugatti money to

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 25, 2010 @01:29PM (#33021992)

    "fatigue, hostility, being at odds with one's employer and questioning one's career course is frighteningly common in the _________ industry"

    • by Purity Of Essence (1007601) on Sunday July 25, 2010 @01:41PM (#33022068)

      Is this common in your own industry?

      FTFC Joel Payne says:

      Two decades making games. I've seen a computer fly through a window, I've seen an ex employee trying to sledgehammer through from one companies adjoining wall to ours so he can get to his office and get his "stuff" back, I've seen one of my friends, a long time game vet kill himself on his birthday because nobody would listen to his brilliance . I've seen a barefoot art director tromp down the hallway like a baby to complain to his bosses when his concept art failed to look like the real-time model he expected when the limits of technology at the time wouldn't permit the level of detail he expected. I've had someone say he wanted to kill me and eat me, I've had anonymous threats when I attempted to suggest that we work together and share better ways to make the game better but.. because I was an "artist" my opinion was considered destructive to the game design hierarchy. I've had CEO's and coworkers claim my ideas without mentioning the source. I've had artist apply for a job with my artwork featured in their portfolios when I was the interviewer. I've been told that I had to work a 48 hour day, sleep on a company couch at work or "families will suffer when the company can't pay it's bills when the deliverable isn't met, Joel we're counting on you" I've been a part of countless layoffs, herded into a room with 300 brilliant talents and told that "**blank*** has F*'d us so we have to lay you all off effective immediately.... now" I've shown up to work and handed a glad trash bag and told that our 200K payroll had been stolen and that I'd have 15 minutes to collect my stuff before the company closes forever. I've seen an employee rob another when he was at lunch, deny it, and the discover he was being video taped.. I saw a a man lose his career, his wife and his company when he opened the door of his company to a guy who knew nothing about the game industry offering to help the company go public, but turned out to be a criminal connect to the mafia who ultimately fired every executive, robed the companies payroll and stole the workstations taking them to Florida where they were later found on bails of hay in a barn on his ranch. I've see racism, sexism and some of the most egotistical people in the world in the game industry and yet..... through it all I always remembered something Chuck Jones told me.. "Joel, the entertainment industry is 90% pain and suffering and 10% pleasure, Just make sure the pleasure shows in your work and you'll be fine." He was right.

      • by Cylix (55374) *

        I believe you need to write a book.

      • by Scrameustache (459504) on Sunday July 25, 2010 @02:05PM (#33022214) Homepage Journal

        Is this common in your own industry?

        had CEO's and coworkers claim my ideas without mentioning the source.

        Yes, that one's very common.

      • by iluvcapra (782887) on Sunday July 25, 2010 @02:20PM (#33022294)
        Say: "Welcome to show business.". All of the things in the parent have happened to me in the film business, and they were de rigeur in the theater as well.

        May I recommend you form a union? Or maybe just a guild/mutual benefit society that allows you all to prevent your employer from working you 80 hours a week for no overtime? Just like in show business, there will always be some 17 year old in his garage with no wife, kids or mortgage that would be happy to do your job for less money, more hours and no complaint. Something generally has to be done before the labor pool destroys itself and the ONLY people you can find to do the work are 17 year old greenhorns; the video game medium will never develop artistically if the work environment is actively hostile to people who want to spend a lifetime doing it.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          I work on the fringes of both industries at the indie level and I agree completely. Video gaming still has a lot to learn from Hollywood. In 20 years it might actually be a good place to work. Until then, I'll stay indie.

      • by xmundt (415364) on Sunday July 25, 2010 @02:22PM (#33022306)

        Greetings and Salutations....
                Hum...this sounds as if it could be applied to almost ANY industry, not just the gaming industry. Think back to the days when Dave and Bill were running HP and it was rated "the best company to work for". For every ONE HP there were thousands of companies that treated their employees like slaves, and were rampant with the sort of evil doings listed here. That remains true today, alas, and may be MORE true with the stresses of the economy being what they are.
                  It has been my experience that MOST companies are run by greedy, thieving bastards, and the best the employee can hope for is to not get screwed too badly as the company is drained into the pockets of upper level management.
                  pleasant dreams
                  dave mundt

    • Not a troll at all (Score:5, Insightful)

      by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Sunday July 25, 2010 @03:22PM (#33022762) Homepage Journal

      fatigue, hostility, being at odds with one's employer and questioning one's career course

      There's nothing trollish about the above AC's comment.

      As corporations try to get higher productivity out of fewer workers, despite record profits it's going to cause unhappy employees. The last few weeks had earnings reports that showed huge profits, yet corporations have decided they're not going to hire, because they believe the wage/benefits have not yet bottomed out. In South Carolina (a "right to work" state) there was a story about a factory looking for experienced machinists with advanced training and offering to pay $12 per hour, which is approximately what a fast food worker would make after a year or so.

      Declining wages, disappearing benefits, unhappy unsatisfied workers are the natural result of the all-out attacks against labor unions by the corporate/government combine. As Alan Greenspan famously put it, it's good for corporations when workers are "uncomfortable" about their futures. Greenspan was talking about how it was his job to create unemployment so that "comfortable" employees don't expect raises and cause inflation. Well, inflation has been nonexistent for about a decade here in the US, yet corporate America continues their crusade to make workers as frightened as possible. There's talk on Wall Street about how it's good for business to have ten percent unemployment become the "new normal".

      Of course workers (in any sector) are unhappy and becoming more unhappy. Workers have been under all-out attack by the elites ever since Ronald Reagan declared war on unions. As we saw in the WWII and post-War years, organized labor raises wages and benefits for ALL workers, creates a strong middle class which helps lower poverty levels. As we started under Reagan to return to the gilded age before the Labor movement we see the opposite happening. Even though it will ultimately hurt our economy and our society as a whole, anti-worker policies do boost short-term profits, and that's all the corporate elite care about.

      Get used to it. Unemployed is the new black.

      • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Sunday July 25, 2010 @03:36PM (#33022870) Homepage Journal

        Let me be more specific about what Greenspan said. It was during the Reagan administration, so I don't remember every detail. Greenspan said that as Fed chairman his job was to maintain a certain minimum level of “worker insecurity” so there wouldn’t be “wage inflation” – income increases among the middle class.

        This is actually a theme that he was challenged on several times during his tenure as Fed chairman by liberal senators like Ted Kennedy who were incredulous at the notion that having the entire middle class "insecure" about their jobs was a good thing. Yet Greenspan stood by his words and reiterated the theme many times.

        Of course, this was before senate testimony of the Fed chairman made much news. Greenspan was actually giving voice to a belief held by wall street traders, who consistently reward companies that fire workers and by Chamber of Commerce types who see their role as being the champions of the corporate elite and the enemy of anybody who draws an honest paycheck.

      • by couchslug (175151) on Sunday July 25, 2010 @04:40PM (#33023290)

        "In South Carolina (a "right to work" state) there was a story about a factory looking for experienced machinists with advanced training and offering to pay $12 per hour, which is approximately what a fast food worker would make after a year or so."

        I can verify the South Carolina situation. I live there and work at a vo-tech. (We have retrained a few machinists and machine operators as weldors because there is a modest shortage of those and they can travel nationwide for contract work.)

        Machinists are available because manufacturing took a dive. Boeing moved to Charleston for very good reason. Everything is cheaper down here which greatly cushions the effect of low wages. What I'd pay in property taxes in North Jersey would buy a nice house and lots of acreage in SC.

        As for "right to work", that "right to compete" is an advantage because manufacturers can simply leave union states and move South. If the South goes union, they can simply outsource and shut down their plants.

        • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Sunday July 25, 2010 @04:55PM (#33023388) Homepage Journal

          As for "right to work", that "right to compete" is an advantage because manufacturers can simply leave union states and move South.

          And then workers both North and South suffer a lowering of incomes. The civil war was supposed to be over a few years ago.

          "Free trade" agreements like NAFTA and CAFTA made the "free market" radicals and globalists really happy the past few decades, but they've totally screwed anyone who's had to work for a living. And don't tell me how small farmers have benefited, because it was the huge transnational agriculture giants, the ADMs that really cleaned up, and the farmers ended up right back where they started.

          When I hear a supposedly educated Southerner refer to the northern states as "union states" it really makes me sad. You know, couchslug, it's no coincidence that the "right to work" states were also mostly slave states.

          When when you say "if the South goes union, they can simply outsource and shut down their plants" there nothing "simple" about it. There are still tax incentives in place to encourage them to move jobs overseas. Then there's the bonus that Wall Street gives any company that moves jobs off-shore. But let me tell you where that little game of south vs north vs China ends up: with everyone working for the Chinese wages. It's a race to the bottom and shortsightedness is making people who believe as you do that there's a pony down at the bottom waiting for you. I'm here to tell you there is no pony at the bottom, just low wages, lower standard of living, and lowest futures for both of our kids and grandkids.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Can't really keep first world economies afloat when everyone is making fast food worker salaries though ... our economies need a large middle class, competing with China on wages doesn't really give us one.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        >Workers have been under all-out attack by the elites ever since Ronald Reagan declared war on unions.

        It's amazing to me that anyone wants the middle class to be poor. At first, "I have all the money and nobody else does," sounds like a great idea...until you go outside.

        You walk down the street surrounded by poor people. So you get in your Lexus and you are surrounded by poor people in their cars. You go to work and a poor person brings you lunch. You turn on your TV and a poor person is talking abou

  • by drHirudo (1830056) on Sunday July 25, 2010 @01:31PM (#33022000) Homepage
    The newest games are crappy recycles of old games. Same ideas recycled over and over again for ages. There is almost nothing new in the gaming industry and nobody takes the risk to experiment with innovative ideas. That is why the retro gaming scene gained so much popularity. Especially in Europe there are lots of fans of the retro games produced before year 2000. I have seen people in the train playing Super Mario on NES emulator on their ultra fast laptops. Some people does not have a single PC game installed on their Windows or Linux computers, but wide variety of emulators for gaming. This speaks magnitudes about the appeal of the recent games.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Peach Rings (1782482)

      The piles of console trash that fill up brick-and-mortar stores have always been terrible. Remember that the vast majority of game releases in the 90s were garbage; you just recall the great ones like Half-Life, Quake 3, and UT99. Well the 2000s have seen many more quality releases.

    • by Draek (916851)

      There's *always* been rehasing of old ideas in gaming. Ever played Pitfall? the Mario before Mario, I guess you could say.

    • by aaaaaaargh! (1150173) on Sunday July 25, 2010 @02:00PM (#33022194)

      I totally agree with the above poster. Everything is classified into convenient genres and too much money is spent on replicating the exact same experience over and over nowadays. Game producers need to learn to take risks again. Studios need to spend much more efforts on creating something unique, not necessarily in terms of gameplay mechanics but in terms of intelligent plots that are compelling for the primary target group (=adults) and stories that really allow for immersion. Procedural content generation and randomized missions/campaigns would be the way to go, yet most studios choose to go the easy and secure but ultimately boring path of creating short, cinematic games that do not offer anything new except better graphics.

      • They need to learn to scale back.

        Granted, this means if they make a simple game that never gets old (think Tetris), it's hard to build off that premise and any future games would have to compete with that, too.

        Plots are nice but ultimately limits replay (a plus for publishers). There's nothing wrong with that but I have a hard time thinking of a game series that built up from game to game both the story and the appeal while maintaining a satisfying end to each chapter. I'd rather they go back to having a

    • by whereiswaldo (459052) on Sunday July 25, 2010 @02:29PM (#33022356) Journal

      Really, nobody takes any chances? Online only games aren't taking a chance? How about taking a chance on a new platform like iPod touch? Or games that have in-game addons for purchase?

      I think people are too down on "the games industry" or maybe too focused on a certain segment (which indeed may be worthy of being negative about).

      I think there's lots of crap like there has always been, but there ARE gems. You just have to find them, as has always been the case.

  • Gee.... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by NetNed (955141) on Sunday July 25, 2010 @01:33PM (#33022014)
    I can't believe gamers are unhappy being charged upwards of $50 a game and having to pay for every little add-on that used to be free or handled by a modding community that did it for enjoyment. No the companies have to lock down their software and lose a part of what made certain series of games sell, at least on the PC side, the modding. Who would have thought the console would wreak gaming on a PC too.
    • Re:Gee.... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by KDR_11k (778916) on Sunday July 25, 2010 @03:34PM (#33022858)

      The game industry is trying to wring growth out of a stagnating customer base, that requires increasing the money each customer pays.

      Maybe modding will finally move to where it belongs: To opensource engines that give you access to ALL code, not just the parts included in the SDK and no central authority that'll decide it's no longer worth the money to keep fixing bugs because users are supposed to move on to the next iteration of the product..

  • by SashaMan (263632) on Sunday July 25, 2010 @01:39PM (#33022058)

    My guess is that there's not much that can be done to combat this given that game development is such a highly competitive industry. I bet you'd find a similar atmosphere in Hollywood - the millions of wannabee actors and actresses that move to LA all dream of being the next Julia Roberts or Tom Cruise, but the vast majority will end up bitter, dejected, and many will be making porn.

    Similarly, all those game developers dream of building the next Warcraft, but the vast majority will end up bitter, dejected, and many will be making porn sites.

    • by fermion (181285) on Sunday July 25, 2010 @02:01PM (#33022198) Homepage Journal
      It is not just it is highly competitive, it is also the expectations of the people coming in. With game development, some people want to do because they have fun writing video games. They may have some skill, and may get a job, but what they don't realize is that to earn the money they have to write the games that others enjoy, not just the elements they enjoy, and have to do it such a time frame that the game gets released in a reasonable time.

      So in some ways it is like Hollywood, in some ways it is not. In some ways it is like other industries, mostly not. A financier is in it to make money, and is not going to throw a fit because the grue is the wrong color. An engineer is mostly not going to have a temper tantrum because someone modifies his truss. In most other industries there are measurable. We might get frustrated but life goes on.

      This is mostly a case of not confusing a hobby with a job. If one wants total creative control, have a hobby. If one wants revenue, get a job. I think many game developer think they can maximize revenue and simultaneously keep it as a hobby.

      • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Sunday July 25, 2010 @02:30PM (#33022370)

        Too many people think that just because something is fun to do as a hobby means it'd be fun to do as a job. Not even close. When you are doing something for fun, as you say, you do just the parts you want. If you don't like it you don't do it. That keeps it fun. With work? Not to much.

        You can see this in a lot of OSS software. Some programmer threw together an app he wanted because it was fun. However it has a shit UI and no documentation, because that is not fun (for the programmer at least). Fine, but at a job that is probably not an option. A UI designer will look over the UI and say "Make these changes, " and you'll do it, like it or not. You'll be required to write up at least rough draft docs to go on to the technical writers and so on.

        No different with games.

        Also, for some people, doing something as a job can make doing it as a hobby no longer fun. I used to screw around with things like overclocking and so on. Saved money, was fun, and I'm a tech guy, I can deal with the problems. No longer. The reason is I support computers for a living now. Diagnosing and fixing problems with computers, software, network, and users is what I do all day at work. Thus I seem to have no patience for it at home. I want my computer to work and let me play.

        That is why I'm not a game tester. It was a career I'd seriously though about. I love video games, they are by far my main form of entertainment. I also have a good understanding of how computers and programs work, though I'm not a programmer (I do know how to program, I'm just not good at it), I can document well, and so on. I'd be pretty good at it. However I'm also a realist. Testing games doesn't mean playing games, it means TESTING games. You try to break it. You do things over and over to isolate bugs, play on very broken early versions, etc. It is work, not fun. I worried though that in taking a job, where games were work, it would make them no fun for recreation. So I decided not to.

        The games industry is a fine place to work, so long as you are realistic about what you are doing. By and large you are NOT making games. The only real person that is true for is the designer, and even then most games have multiple designers who work together, and other people they have to take direction from. If you are a programmer, then that's hwat you do: you program. Your code will become a game, but your job is to code, to solve problems by coding.

      • by Kell Bengal (711123) on Sunday July 25, 2010 @02:35PM (#33022396)
        Engineer here - I wish I could say that you were right about engineers. Believe you me, we have just as many argumemts; however, the stakes are often higher and so the politics fall by the wayside in the face of numbers and simulation. That doesn't mean trivial things don't blow out of proportion, though...

        Bizarrely, the first spat I was involved in at my current place of employment revolved around whether a stiffening section could be correctly referred to as a 'truss' (as I called it), or whether it was a 'strut' (as my boss called it). I pointed out that a truss is made up of struts, but I was quickly admonished by my boss and told that a truss consists of pin-jointed members only, whereas this was a single piece of material with cutouts in it and it therefore could not be a truss. Now, I disagreed and cited numerous texts which provide examples of trusses (such as the box truss) which support moments at corners - and that was when my boss fired me. As it was, we realised that it was ridiculous and I was immediately rehired, but you can see how something as minor as terminology can get out of hand. Ultimately, we compromised and referred to it as a 'web' in the documentation.
        • by oncehour (744756) on Sunday July 25, 2010 @04:06PM (#33023040)

          So let me get this straight:

          You were fired for having a dissenting opinion, and then you gladly accepted to be rehired once your boss came to his senses? Do you really want to work with someone who would fire you over a technical debate?

          Most of the people on my team debate with me about the odds and ends of all sorts of technologies. Sometimes I'm right, sometimes I'm wrong. I'd never fire someone for disagreeing over terminology. That just seems like it'd lead to me never getting the advice I really need when I really need it due to employee fear.

          • He was just flustered and we laughed - it was one of those things where things get out of hand and it becomes a tempest in a teacup. Sometimes even sane people get a little crazy.
    • by mrmeval (662166)

      "The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side." --Hunter S. Thompson

      You can replace music with any entertainment industry and it will be accurate.

    • and many will be making porn sites.

      Care to site your sources? ;-)

  • by Kneo24 (688412) on Sunday July 25, 2010 @01:43PM (#33022084) Homepage

    If gaming journalists didn't want half of the flames they get, maybe they could actually try doing their job a little better. Don't get me wrong, I know full well that sometimes committing your feelings and thoughts down to a piece of paper can be a daunting task. Yet, a lot of reviews we all see never jive with their arbitrary scoring system. Why is that if three-quarters of your review is negative, the game still gets an 8.0? An 8? 8 should be considered good. Not great, but well above part. Likewise you'll also see massive praise, but the game will score a 7. Come on. You can't find something negative to say? Something clearly wasn't working for you, so figure it out or up the score.

    And then all the reviewers do is complain that people piss and moan about their articles. Well shit son, if I wrote like you did on a consistent basis, I'd deserve all the flames I was receiving too. Yet, when you point these very things out to them, it goes right over their head.

    Really, are we readers possibly asking for too much when we want their arbitrary scoring system to coincide with what's written?

    • by Purity Of Essence (1007601) on Sunday July 25, 2010 @01:53PM (#33022152)

      Really, are we readers possibly asking for too much when we want their arbitrary scoring system to coincide with what's written?

      Yes, you are asking too much when you expect an arbitrary scoring system to be anything but arbitrary. They're idiotic because they are made for idiots. Read the reviews, read the critiques, ask your friends, play the demos, and forget the stupid score card.

      • So true - in fact, I read replies to letters by the reviewers themselves saying just that in other words. It's just expected so they have to do it.

  • by perpenso (1613749) on Sunday July 25, 2010 @01:44PM (#33022090)

    Why is there so much strife in an industry ostensibly focused on having fun?

    The focus is fun for the gamers. For the developers its work and/or business. While the products can be fun the development side can be some of the most technically difficult and challenging. I've worked on software for embedded devices, telecommunications, molecular modeling and visualization, and games. Modern games are far more difficult than most outsiders imagine.

    There is hardly a traditional area of computer science where in depth knowledge and proficiency is not required. Architecture, data structures and algorithms, artificial intelligence, database, graphics, numerical methods, ... Add to this the competitive pressures where you have to maximize performance for a given hardware platform. There is little room for error in any of the areas.

    That said, the greater the challenge the greater the satisfaction upon success.

    • by Targon (17348) on Sunday July 25, 2010 @02:37PM (#33022398)

      You miss the role that management has on the overall feeling at a workplace. A bad supervisor, manager, or executive can suck the fun out of ANYTHING, and a good boss can make a bad job at least not seem to be all that bad. This applies to everything from software engineering to customer service, and all the way down into fast food. The harder the boss pushes employees who are normally motivated, the worse things will be, and productivity goes down as a result.

      Now, if you treat your employees from the bottom to the top like they are a vital part of the team, and you encourage them in a POSITIVE way by showing how vital they are to getting the product out the door, they will WANT to work a bit harder to get things done right, without needing to force them. If you treat employees as just "resources" to be used, they will feel your lack of understanding, and will not want to work there. Now, how many of these business classes teach how to motivate employees in a positive way, because not a single person with a business degree I have ever seen seems to understand that basic idea. The role of management is to get the most productivity out of your employees, and the BEST way is to make the employees happy so that they will want to work overtime to get the job done properly.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        I think that what you're saying is true but I don't think managers are trained to be abusive. It's more "The shit flows downhill" that makes bosses jerks. The CEO/President/Big Boss sets the tone for the company. If the chief screams/abuses/threatens the middle managers then that attitude gets passed on. That's why I'm dubious when a manager gets replaced with a new manager about whether anything really improves. Either the new manager will quit because of the threats or he/she will pass on the stress

  • by Gareman (618650) on Sunday July 25, 2010 @01:44PM (#33022094) Homepage Journal
    You have the same problem in the venerable table top game industry: people (fans really) willing to work irrationally hard for the chance to be close to their hobby without commensurate compensation. When the industry begins to fade, and it's clear what they do is actually work, there is inevitable disillusionment. What's the solution? Also like the tabletop gaming industry, economics is telling us there are too many companies. Yes, fans want an enormous selection, but the business model is unsustainable. However, also like the tabletop gaming industry, there will always be some shmoe willing to work for a buck an hour for the chance to be a game developer. Smart people, those who can do anything else, those that don't see games as a calling, would be wise to flee.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by bazorg (911295)

      Also like the tabletop gaming industry, economics is telling us there are too many companies.

      what, all 3 of them?

  • by Tablizer (95088) on Sunday July 25, 2010 @01:48PM (#33022112) Homepage Journal

    The vast majority of those interested in programming these days try to go into game building. After all, it's not sales reports and data-entry screens that motivate most.

    This means there is an oversupply of game programmers, which results in long hours and exploitation.
         

    • That isn't exploitation, it's simply that the developers aren't as valuable as they would like to be, because there are plenty more ready to take their place (the aforementioned oversupply).

      • by Tablizer (95088)

        Even the good ones may be exploited because there are plenty of other good ones to replace them for the same money.

        • by XanC (644172)

          But that's not exploitation; that's what they're actually worth. They just wish they were worth more.

  • by PhrostyMcByte (589271) <phrosty@gmail.com> on Sunday July 25, 2010 @01:54PM (#33022160) Homepage

    My weirdest experience with gaming has been with the Left 4 Dead series.

    In both games, Valve has spent the first two or three weeks after release fixing any bug big bugs. After that they basically only fix a bug if it ends up crashing the game client. Bugs that allow you to lag out the players, crash the server, change maps when you're not supposed to, get maximum scores for an entire map even when your team dies, and spawn extra infected AI bots exist for both games, and never get fixed.

    After those first few weeks, the only changes they make are ones that are trivial to implement -- very minor balancing fixes like changing the damage things do, or adding game modes that vary what weapons/monsters get spawned. None of the changes the community actually requests are ever added, like a working lobby system. There is basically no communication between the developers and community.

    It's an odd disconnect. Especially for an industry that likes to hire directly out of it's hobby modding community.

  • by westlake (615356) on Sunday July 25, 2010 @01:54PM (#33022162)
    Working in the entertainment industry is stressful. Big budgets. Big egos. Tight deadlines. Unless you have the magic touch of a Pixar, most of your projects will crash and burn.
  • by Xelios (822510) on Sunday July 25, 2010 @01:54PM (#33022166)
    I guess part of the problem is the pressure created by the rising expectations of a "successful" game. Big publishers like EA and Activision aren't content with a game earning back twice what they put in, they're looking for a small fortune from each franchise. It's a problem that's been plaguing the entire entertainment industry recently. Where you used to have hundreds of smaller publishers and developers, all of whom would be thrilled to see a product making a profit at all, you now have a handful of huge, lumbering giants that demand every penny be squeezed out of a project. Companies with entire departments whose only job it is to go through every project and cut costs to the bare minimum, then go through them again and cut the costs even further. At the same time these giants are stifling the smaller competition by flooding advertising mediums and buying up any IP that shows signs of being successful.

    Capitalism may be the lesser evil, but I just feel like it's running out of control these days.
  • by MikeRT (947531) on Sunday July 25, 2010 @02:02PM (#33022202) Homepage

    Game quality is often taking a back seat to graphics. Case in point, Final Fantasy 13 versus Final Fantasy 7. The story and game play took a back seat to the cinematics. FF13 was just an action game with RPG elements, with a perfectly linear gameplay and lost a lot of what made the game play of Final Fantasy games what they were.

    In business terms, this is a loss of **value**. Get that, business people? A spit-polished, so shiny it burns your retina turd is still a turd. Game companies would be far better off focusing on reusing existing technology and focusing on the **content** instead.

    This insane focus on bleeding edge everything is killing the actual products.

    • by Twinbee (767046)

      Er, I played F7 on the PS years ago, and there was never any strategy because you never died (being impossibly easy). You just kept going on and on through the storyline. Compare that to say, Mystaria (Riglord Saga) on the Saturn where you at least had to try a bit.

    • by Gazzonyx (982402)
      FWIW, FF1 is still my Final Fantasy. I wasn't old enough (26 now) at the time it came out to appreciate it for what it was (and how they fit all that game play into the constraints of an NES cartridge), but I realized when FF7(IIRC) came out and I needed a Voodoo2 to enjoy it... the magic somehow died just a little. Everyone was talking about how 'pretty' the game was, but that was never the point of FF up until that release.

      Then again, they seem to have done well selling to casual gamers and console g
    • Stop playing JRPGs (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Sycraft-fu (314770)

      While I agree there are some games that suck because they focus only on visuals, there are plenty that don't. Square seems to be annoyed you want to play a game, they just want you to watch it. Fine, fuck them. Get Mass Effect. It is a beautiful game with a very compelling story and good gameplay.

      You can have good content AND gameplay. Also don't act like good visuals are worthless. Part of a game is creating a fun, immersive, experience and good graphics and sound help.

  • A-title games today are large, rich worlds with great detail and complexity. That requires an army of people building the world, one tiny bit at a time. That's a factory job.

    Developers need a union. Like The Animation Guild [animationguild.org], which represents the workers at Pixar, Disney, Dreamworks, etc. Union contracts have tough overtime provisions. The key point is time and a half for overtime; double time for a seventh day. That makes "crunches" expensive to management, and discourages unnecessary overtime.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Adrian Lopez (2615)

      Developers need to stand up for their rights, but unions (especially those that dominate an entire industry) can themselves become like the bureaucrats they're supposed to fight against. I'm not usually one to argue for new laws, but I think I'd rather have employees' rights protected through specific legislation than be forced to join or otherwise be represented by a union before being allowed to work for a particular employer.

  • More and more developer sources I talked to suggested that fatigue, hostility, being at odds with one's employer and questioning one's career course is frighteningly common in the game industry.

    And this is different from every other industry how?

  • There is big money if you can be first to get a game to the public that is a hit. There is also the potential for huge pay for programmers. That means great pressure and that almost always means trouble. Put that together with the fact that there are a few very, very gifted programmers who are highly sought after and have a distinctive artistic type of personality and you might as well hand out sabers and grenades.

  • by PJ6 (1151747) on Sunday July 25, 2010 @02:40PM (#33022428)

    I am a mechanical engineer (MIT) by schooling, and one of the first things we learned when actually *designing* and *building* something (as opposed to just messing around with equations) is that you should avoid over-constraining your design both in the dimensions you specify on your drawing, and how you actually bolt things together. Alas, the Wikipedia article [wikipedia.org] is woefully lacking on the subject, so I shall briefly try to explain what this means: if plate A and plate B are bolted together in one spot, and this bolt constrains the plates from moving relative to one another in the X direction, that means that if you place another bolt further down in the X direction, one of the holes it passes through should not be a hole, but a slot oriented in the X direction. This is necessary because you can only drill holes with limited precision. I'm sure many of you have seen first hand why over-constraining with fasteners is bad if you've ever tried to mount a motherboard and use all the screw holes.

    The problem this article talks about is industry-wide and not just limited to games development. One thing I have tried to pound into people's heads (but nobody listens) is, you can constrain the feature set you want, or you can constrain a release date, but you can't constrain both. You need to pick either one or the other. Without even checking, I would guess that game developers at Blizzard are happier than elsewhere, because this is a company that clearly has a grasp of this concept - they hold their guns on quality and features, but do NOT stick with release dates. They only announce them when they've entered the polishing phase (and boy do they polish), when almost all the serious development is complete.

    Many of us developers are made to suffer at the hands of those who do not appreciate the inherent unreliability of estimation. We are just expected to suck it up, work very long hours, stress out, and - WRONGFULLY - accept responsibility that the project is falling behind schedule. Being a happy developer requires that you grow a pair and just say no, I will not give up my life, and work insane hours, simply because someone doesn't understand that they can hold a schedule, or hold a feature set, but not both.

  • Bobby Kotick (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FlynnMP3 (33498) on Sunday July 25, 2010 @02:42PM (#33022456)

    "For the love of money is the root of all evil."
        -Quote from a somewhat popular book

    It would be reasonable to say that a significant percentage of people involved in the game industry do it for the love of being part of the game creation process. Programmers, QA personnel, and managers put in crazy hours to fulfill their personal dream of inspiring somebody else with their game. Once they get a great game that sells well, all of them are on top of their game (pardon the pun). Their eyes start filling with visions of being able to live the good life and being able to do what they love. Time passes and more great selling games get made and these people are rightfully feeling like gods of their own domains.

    Enter the investors and business people. Their sole purpose is to make money. They do not care how it is made, what widgets are used to make people shell out money for said widgets, only that the widgets generate the maximum amount of profit given the amount of resources used to make said widget. A very significant percentage of business people are only interested in the game of making money, nearly everything else is secondary. Specialized (and sometimes even general) knowledge of those widgets is not necessary at all.

    In the case of Activision Blizzard, Bobby Kotick is on public record stating these very things. http://arstechnica.com/gaming/news/2009/01/activisions-bobby-kotick-brings-cash-but-not-heart.ars [arstechnica.com] When he talks, he isn't talking to the consumer, he is talking to the investors - although I do believe those type of people delude themselves into thinking they are talking to the consumer base. The investors are the most important people you need to make happy to be able to make those large sums of money. By now, the consumer base is so large that a few missteps in execution will be absorbed by the sheer number of consumers. Just as long as the quarterly balance sheet is an improvement over same quarter last year all is well in the money making world.

    Meanwhile, the people who have sweat blood and guts getting the company to where it is are dismayed at the change of direction the company is taking. They like the extra money and the even better benefits because the families they have now demand such things. They internally file this under mid-life crisis and buy a big toy for themselves to sooth the ego bruised dream of making a difference in the world through their passion. By now, the patterns of malcontent from the consumers and the many compromises in game design is way too frequent to ignore. The more brilliant people of the core team that made the company great have seen the writing on the wall and have already formed new opportunities for themselves (exit strategies), while the ones not so confident are basically biding their time and polishing their resumes. It is no longer a joy to leap out of bed ready to attack the day with finishing up whatever game related task you may have. You go into work dreading whatever the new edict comes down from upper management. Your life has reached The Dilbert Level(tm). Congratulations.

    Eventually, the game company spends of all the consumer good will that was accumulated during the glory days. Even the "sheep" consumers are leaving because there are better games out there. The investors spit up the company and sell the pieces and leave with their bags bulging with money while the soon employed ones are left wondering what the hell happened.

    I just hope that Diablo 3 has enough of it's roots in the pre Activision days to be a good game. I already know that it will be the last ActiBlizzard game that I might purchase.

  • by ddt (14627) <ddt@davetaylor.name> on Sunday July 25, 2010 @02:43PM (#33022472) Homepage

    Behind the stress is mostly flooded markets and a lack of cash to go around for everybody.

    We've been producing a game called Beakiez (http://beakiez.com), which is a super hardcore bubble pop game. Indie team, no funding, just using savings and odd jobs to fund it. Despite getting reports that it's a lot of fun and that going for the high scores is quite addictive, we've been denied by all the major casual game portals for the following reasons: a. it auto-patches when new versions come out, b. it talks to a central server to list high scores, and c. it's a bubble pop game. Almost all the major portals have strict guidelines that don't allow external server connections or auto-patching, and one really major portal normally associated with being indie-friendly has an issue with bubble pop games, as they've been deemed a "dead genre." As a result, we got rejected from some of the biggest portals out there.

    This means we have to get every single player to come to our website and to buy from us directly. As you can imagine, this isn't easy. It can be really hard on morale, but you have to let go and not be angry.

    This isn't really just about the game industry at all. One thing that's become extremely obvious to me as a game designer is that capitalism features extremely poor balancing and pacing. Imagine if in WoW, 50% of the players never leveled their characters once, as it was excruciatingly difficult to get to level 2, and really only 5% made it to level 5. From there on out, levels 6 to 80, levels get progressively easier to get past, to where you can literally wake up and find that you've gotten through 8 advanced levels in your sleep, equivalent to waking up and making $100k in interest income, for example.

    Capitalism is essentially the world's oldest MMO, and the rules (laws) are so complex and hackishly patched that you have to rent people (lawyers) to interpret small corners of them. The more money you have, the more people you can hire to navigate and circumvent those rules, so you get a lot of cheaters at the top. In an MMO, this would lead to a mass exodus from the game to a competing game, but capitalism doesn't really let you leave. It's the game we all have to play.

    I keep hope alive that someday our elected representatives and lawmakers will be accomplished game designers. They know how to motivate people better than just about anyone. They make addictive, balanced, and fair systems for a living. I frankly think our industry's best designers could run circles around today's top politicians and lawmakers.

    In the meantime, I think we all just need to keep our noses to the grindstone, lower those burn rates, and try to eek out what satisfaction we can in our work and personal lives.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bevets (1202491)
      A bubble pop game? In this economy? Personally I work in the telegram business and I also think that capitalism has screwed me over.
  • Capitalism. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by unity100 (970058) on Sunday July 25, 2010 @03:46PM (#33022924) Homepage Journal
    gaming industrialized circa 1995, with the advent of cd. big companies moved into gaming, bought or smashed out small companies, or small companies got bigger. 'competition' ensued, which was supposed to be a good thing. but, competition was to get the most money to please shareholders with minimum risk.

    what happened ? innovation, free spirit, enthusiasm of discovery, excitement, adventure that made its way into games in early days of gaming in 10-15 years preceding 1995 got out of the picture. it was much better to capitalize on existing formats, tried and surefire methods, even existing titles than to take risks with new things. everything is to please shareholders.

    and because all the companies did or had to do it, at least which have a wide reach, people came to accept this as the reality of gaming. unfortunate in itself, for those who remember 1980-1995. ironically, games of those time still play good in regard to gameplay, and actually most of the prime titles that are selling again and again in 2,3,4,5 ...... ^n, are the reincarnations of those days' games.

    not only the games deteriorated in quality, but also their prices have gone up, and stabilized at certain price levels. thanks to the perception of marketing departments of megacorps, which decide these things independently and at large.

    this is the way with capitalism. supposed competition does not end up being to the favor of the customer - all companies try to escape with the minimum satisfaction they can get away, while taking maximum money with no risk. and when entire industries act in this mindset, mediocrity becomes a standard, and people come to accept mediocrity as the reality of life.
  • by OpinionatedDude (1323007) on Sunday July 25, 2010 @04:26PM (#33023194)
    that point in time where the frustration/unhappiness curve for engineers/developers shoots to infinity. All development stops, ushering in a new stone age.
  • Well duh! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Windwraith (932426) on Sunday July 25, 2010 @09:47PM (#33024972)

    The videogame INDUSTRY is not about having fun, it's about making money of course.
    You can find programmers who enjoy making games all by themselves, in their free time and seeking no (economical) profit. They exist, and I think they are the only ones having "fun" making a game.
    I include myself in that category. I don't think I'd be able to do it as my real job, with other people (who are probably clueless or only trying to satisfy random market statistics) telling me what I need to change or whatever. I seek no profit, just fun. For profit I already got a regular job that pays the bills. I can do game creation at my own pace, using my ideas and having to respond to no one.
    You'd say it's a work of love.

  • Equilibrium (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nick_davison (217681) on Monday July 26, 2010 @12:23AM (#33025982)

    Employment is a somewhat dynamic equilibrium but still an equilibrium nonetheless. All of the factors for an against ultimately balance out (albeit taking a few years to do so every time there's a boom or bust). Those factors tend to include: pay, working hours, working conditions, perceived sense of enjoyment, desire to be in the field, qualifications needed to get there, and many more.

    Every year, millions of kids enter the workforce. Hundreds of thousands of them think gaming is just the coolest thing ever. If they get in via QA/Customer Service, they don't even need a degree to get there. On the positive side: They get to be in a field [they think] they love and they get to work in it with f-all experience or training. Even the coders get in on the back of a basic degree or a successful game mod.

    Funnily enough, with a massive supply and only a finite demand for these employees... employers have discovered they can ask for longer hours and pay less for them than they would in fields where hardly anyone wants to do it and they need years of specialized training.

    Not exactly rocket science.

    I was in the industry for five years. I got sick of the crazy hours and too many people with a maturity level way south of their customers so I left. I'd imagine it took them a second or two to replace me because that crazy supply of people who want to be in the field, no matter what, continues unabated.

    The difference between the people complaining/writing rants and myself is that I recognized what the reality was and stopped whining about it being unfair. Of course I wasn't going to get the conditions people in much less desirable jobs have - because I was trading them for getting to do the desirable thing that a million other people would make the same trade to get to do. Sure, after a few years, most people in the field realize the trade off isn't actually worth it and move on - but, like me, they get some great memories, they get to know they lived their dream for a while... and a million new kids get to take their places and do the same... for the few years it takes them to burn out too.

    A lot of the guys I used to know now work sane hours for way better salaries in places where they have to wear a tie, not have nerf fights in the office and never release anything a tenth as much fun as a videogame. They don't bitch about that either as they recognize that, too, is a trade off they chose, with a balance point set by millions of other people choosing where their values lie.

    In short: You don't have to work in the games industry, or programming, or any other industry. Stop bitching about what you don't get compared to someone else, somewhere else, when they're making other tradeoffs you don't have to. Instead, figure out what's more rewarding to your values than it is for most other people, skewing the equilibrium in your favor, and then reap the benefits of being there.

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