Sympathy for Game Developers

Before I begin let me just say that I'm aware that there are much more difficult and dangerous jobs out there than being a video game developer. Farmers, Coal Miners, Oil Drillers, police officers, firemen, EMT's and most importantly the Armed Forces. All these are professions I have much appreciation and the utmost  respect for. Without these men and women things would simply go to hell. With that in mind I simply wanted to take a moment to focus on Video Game Developers since after all this is a gaming site and share my thoughts on what seems like a very harsh job.
 
Over the last couple years I've been shaking my head a lot at the decisions made by big name game publishers and the hell they put their development teams through. I've loved video games for a very good portion of my life and I always appreciate the hard work and effort many dev teams put into them. Which is why it always saddens me to see that as far as gaming has come as an industry, the hardest working individuals of all are still mistreated and over worked with little rewards for thier efforts and more often than not find themselves laid off looking for work all over again.  Having suffered job loss and lay off myself I can honestly say that it is something I wish on no one. It's an emotional hell that takes an awful toll on you physically and emotionally and it's horrible so many hard working game developers suffer this fate.
 
As we've seen in recent articles with stories about the ethics companies like Activision, EA, and Team Bondi about how they treat their dev teams these individuals are put through some pretty harsh work conditions. Putting in far more than 40 hours a week in sometimes crowded spaces with few breaks and most devastating of all being away from their families and friends constantly. More and more I feel that being a video game developer is less of a job and more of a burden than anything else. There was a time when I was still in high school that I dreamed of making games myself someday. However as I learned more about the industry and found out more and more what it's really like I decided not to pursue that career path. And that was all the way back in 1999 and today things look even worse now than they were then.
 
With all the hard work and sacrifice these people put in how are they rewarded? Sure there's probably bonuses and profit pools but these things are never guaranteed and... nor is their job. I can't tell you how many stories I've read this year alone about mass lay offs happening just within the US. And this happens for a number of reasons such as if a game doesn't sell which honestly isn't always a good reason. As much as we like to hold our standards of quality for games that deserved to be praised the sad truth about the world we live in is that quality doesn't always matter. Sales do. It's a travesty when a team puts their heart and sole into a project like Prince of Persia Sands of Time or Psychonauts and then gets flak from their publishers because it didn't sell. It just makes me sick that things like that can happen. OR when developers try their hardest to meet a deadline and the game turns out to be disappointing, that's more hell they're going to get or worse lose their jobs over. And it's not even their fault most of the times. 
 
No developer wants to make a bad game. There are usually a lot of things that are far beyond their control that end up making a game turn out as bad as it is. Like marketing people who think rediculas changes should be made or tight deadlines from publishers etc. And I think the most common problem that all these people publishers and marketing groups alike don't realise is one simple fact... 
 
Making a video game is HARD!
 
There's a reason developers have to go to college to learn this stuff and why it takes so many people and so many years to make something as good  as say Red Dead Redemption for example. I'm not gonna go down the laundry list of things that go into the making of a game but something so simple as changing one character's face in a game can seriously take months of rework to accomplish! I constantly ask myself when are people gonna see just how hard it is to program this stuff? When can folks like the Publishers and the marketing reps understand that making these games are not easy! That you can't plop a project into a dev teams lap like oh I don't know ANY movie based game and expect them to make the next Ocarina of Time in less than 12 months!
 
But getting back on track, game developers sacrifice so much for the sake of the project and in the end they aren't rewarded to well for their efforts. I'm not saying every company mistreats their employees but the fact that even one of them does is still wrong to me. I honestly don't see why they started the whole video game dev commission to create rules when most companies don't even need to enforce the regulations they come up with. Why? And when problems like what happened to dev teams like the employees of Rockstar or Activision are brought to light how can some people simply shrug their shoulders and say "Well that's the industry get over it" No! We shouldn't have to get over it. No one should! These people go through hell on a daily basis with little or no time for their loved ones and that to me is just unacceptable. There's gotta be time to enjoy the finer things in life. There's gotta be time to enjoy the quality of living. No one should be treated the way Team Bondi abused their staff. No one.
 
Bottom line for me is something really has to change. Development teams should have better working conditions, better hours, better pay ,and better job security. My heart and sympathy truly goes out to families who lose so much precious time with their loved ones because of the long hours they have to put in for a game. At least that's my opinion. Again I know not every company mistreats thier dev teams but we are all aware that some of them do. And to me, that's still a bad thing.
 
What do you folks think?

2 Comments
3 Comments
Posted by Atary77

Before I begin let me just say that I'm aware that there are much more difficult and dangerous jobs out there than being a video game developer. Farmers, Coal Miners, Oil Drillers, police officers, firemen, EMT's and most importantly the Armed Forces. All these are professions I have much appreciation and the utmost  respect for. Without these men and women things would simply go to hell. With that in mind I simply wanted to take a moment to focus on Video Game Developers since after all this is a gaming site and share my thoughts on what seems like a very harsh job.
 
Over the last couple years I've been shaking my head a lot at the decisions made by big name game publishers and the hell they put their development teams through. I've loved video games for a very good portion of my life and I always appreciate the hard work and effort many dev teams put into them. Which is why it always saddens me to see that as far as gaming has come as an industry, the hardest working individuals of all are still mistreated and over worked with little rewards for thier efforts and more often than not find themselves laid off looking for work all over again.  Having suffered job loss and lay off myself I can honestly say that it is something I wish on no one. It's an emotional hell that takes an awful toll on you physically and emotionally and it's horrible so many hard working game developers suffer this fate.
 
As we've seen in recent articles with stories about the ethics companies like Activision, EA, and Team Bondi about how they treat their dev teams these individuals are put through some pretty harsh work conditions. Putting in far more than 40 hours a week in sometimes crowded spaces with few breaks and most devastating of all being away from their families and friends constantly. More and more I feel that being a video game developer is less of a job and more of a burden than anything else. There was a time when I was still in high school that I dreamed of making games myself someday. However as I learned more about the industry and found out more and more what it's really like I decided not to pursue that career path. And that was all the way back in 1999 and today things look even worse now than they were then.
 
With all the hard work and sacrifice these people put in how are they rewarded? Sure there's probably bonuses and profit pools but these things are never guaranteed and... nor is their job. I can't tell you how many stories I've read this year alone about mass lay offs happening just within the US. And this happens for a number of reasons such as if a game doesn't sell which honestly isn't always a good reason. As much as we like to hold our standards of quality for games that deserved to be praised the sad truth about the world we live in is that quality doesn't always matter. Sales do. It's a travesty when a team puts their heart and sole into a project like Prince of Persia Sands of Time or Psychonauts and then gets flak from their publishers because it didn't sell. It just makes me sick that things like that can happen. OR when developers try their hardest to meet a deadline and the game turns out to be disappointing, that's more hell they're going to get or worse lose their jobs over. And it's not even their fault most of the times. 
 
No developer wants to make a bad game. There are usually a lot of things that are far beyond their control that end up making a game turn out as bad as it is. Like marketing people who think rediculas changes should be made or tight deadlines from publishers etc. And I think the most common problem that all these people publishers and marketing groups alike don't realise is one simple fact... 
 
Making a video game is HARD!
 
There's a reason developers have to go to college to learn this stuff and why it takes so many people and so many years to make something as good  as say Red Dead Redemption for example. I'm not gonna go down the laundry list of things that go into the making of a game but something so simple as changing one character's face in a game can seriously take months of rework to accomplish! I constantly ask myself when are people gonna see just how hard it is to program this stuff? When can folks like the Publishers and the marketing reps understand that making these games are not easy! That you can't plop a project into a dev teams lap like oh I don't know ANY movie based game and expect them to make the next Ocarina of Time in less than 12 months!
 
But getting back on track, game developers sacrifice so much for the sake of the project and in the end they aren't rewarded to well for their efforts. I'm not saying every company mistreats their employees but the fact that even one of them does is still wrong to me. I honestly don't see why they started the whole video game dev commission to create rules when most companies don't even need to enforce the regulations they come up with. Why? And when problems like what happened to dev teams like the employees of Rockstar or Activision are brought to light how can some people simply shrug their shoulders and say "Well that's the industry get over it" No! We shouldn't have to get over it. No one should! These people go through hell on a daily basis with little or no time for their loved ones and that to me is just unacceptable. There's gotta be time to enjoy the finer things in life. There's gotta be time to enjoy the quality of living. No one should be treated the way Team Bondi abused their staff. No one.
 
Bottom line for me is something really has to change. Development teams should have better working conditions, better hours, better pay ,and better job security. My heart and sympathy truly goes out to families who lose so much precious time with their loved ones because of the long hours they have to put in for a game. At least that's my opinion. Again I know not every company mistreats thier dev teams but we are all aware that some of them do. And to me, that's still a bad thing.
 
What do you folks think?

Posted by TheSeductiveMoose
@Atary77 said:
Before I begin let me just say that I'm aware that there are much more difficult and dangerous jobs out there than being a video game developer. Farmers, Coal Mines, Oil Drillers, police officers, firemen, EMT's and most importantly the Armed Forces.
Yeah, I'd hate being a coal mine. Being immobile and shit would suck.
Posted by OppressiveStink

@Atary77:

It's the same problem that any creative job gets. There's way more applicants than available jobs. This means the people who publish and finance the video games will always hold all the cards in that negotiation. Some could unionize and then 10 min later, blammo, they've been replaced by new people.