By brukaoru 9 Comments
The secret shame of the gaming industry: Not giving credit where credit is due.I've been working on this blog post for a while. Actually, I started writing it after this post, but have put off finishing it until today. For those who read that blog entry, you may see that the following post relates to some items on that list.
A sad state of affairs...When I first learned that Okami had it's staff credits removed from the Wii port, I was furious. The fact that Capcom had the nerve to remove credits from the game just because their employees had left was simply immature in my eyes. Their decision to do so created a grudge that I don't think I will ever let go of, but more importantly, it made me realize that I was very unaware of current crediting practices within the gaming industry.
It was only after someone pointed out another game that had it's credits removed that I began to do some research into crediting within games. To my dismay, I learned that this not only has been going on for a long time now, but game companies were not really doing anything to improve their standards of crediting.
The following are games known to have left out staff credits:
- Okami (Wii port)
- Warhammer Online: Age Of Reckoning
- ManHunt 2
To say I am disappointed, angered and saddened by this may be an understatement. The fact that this has been going on for quite sometime is quite a shock to me. Call me naive, stupid, whatever you'd like, but this problem has gotten far too little attention in my book. Quite often I still encounter a lot of knowledgeable gamers, who often stay updated on the latest news, who had no idea about the removal of staff credits in the Wii port of Okami. Although the majority of gaming news websites will report these kinds of things, these stories are often buried under the overflow of gaming news that stacks up each day. It's really not the fault of journalist sites or their readers, it's simply a matter of other news getting more attention.
Shame on the gaming industry.
Of course, not everyone cares about the credits in games. They just want a game, they don't care about who made it, to them it's just a name added to the credit screen that they are usually forced to watch upon a game's completion, the less names on a screen for them, the better. I ask the people who feel that way to put themselves in the shoes of one of those staff members. Imagine this scenario: You worked tirelessly on a game and the company decides that they don't have to put your name on the credits screen. Hey, they paid your salary right? What more do you want? Recognition for a job well done? Well, too bad, the company is leaving your name out and there's nothing you can do about it. Some other members of the team have their name added to the game, even though they worked just as hard as you did, they don't deserve a spot on the credits page anymore than you do.
If someone was to say that the movie industry also leaves people uncredited, I must ask how important their role really is. If someone plays such a small role in a film and it goes uncredited, it is just not the same as those who go uncredited in a game. No matter what, employees who work on these games spend days, weeks, countless hours of their time doing their job. What does a uncredited person in a film do, maybe say a line or two and then their done? Is making a minute or two appearance in a film really the same as working countless hours on game? I think not.
Besides the feeling of not having their own work be appreciated, some people don't realize that failure to receive credit in games for employees can make them less successful in finding future job opportunities. Jurie Horneman, who has worked in the industry for over 17 years stated that, "...They [credits] play a role in hiring decisions; the game you last worked on is something that employers use to decide whether to hire you or not. And credits are also important for developer motivation. The bottom line is that they are just the right thing to do."
Some current crediting procedures...Valve, Neversoft, Insomniac and some other major developer's approach to crediting, in my opinion, is nearly as bad as not crediting at all. They list everyone alphabetically without regard for the nature of their input. In this sense, it sounds like a person whose only involvemeant with a game happened to be getting everyone's lunch and dinner would be on that list. While I am not trying to devalue the importance of the person in charge of food, I do find it quite absurd to list them in the credits, without a description, alongside a person who actually was directly involved in the project.
Is there anything being done?Indeed, there is. The International Game Developers Association has been a proponent of an adoption of universal credit standard for the gaming industry. In late 2007, IGDA created a Credit Standards Committee. The Committee was started in response to the breaking news from Gamasutra of credits being left out in Manhunt 2.
"...Additionally, the non-standard naming procedures for job titles that have thus far characterized the free spirit of the gaming industry have now become liability for those who wish to prove their skills when moving from one company to another. A movement to standardize crediting procedures and titles has never been more needed."
"The IGDA Credit Standards Committee is a group of volunteers who have come together to study, document and propose voluntary game industry crediting practices that properly recognize those responsible for the creation of games..."
I applaud IGDA for trying to set standards within the gaming industry for credits. Unfortunately the mentality of marketing Vice President's such as Doug Lombardi proves that the industry still has a long way to go before crediting standards will be seen as a necessity and not a "luxury."
As for standardizing crediting within the industry, Lombardi is skeptical: "You know, in the movie industry, some people put credits at the beginning of their films, some at the end, it’s a creative call. I don’t understand why it needs to be standardized. It really feels to me like a big issue is being made of out … hey, we’re just talking about credits. I mean, if we didn’t list anybody, then I’d say, okay, that’s a little weird. But I don’t think we’ve ever lost a single employee because they were frustrated over the way our credits are done."
Would he consider adopting the IGDA standards?
"I really think," Lombardi says, "I would need to understand why I’d need to spend the time to read such a thing."
Additional Information (Interesting Tidbit):
"How Game Credits Are Currently Applied:Source - Game Industry Crediting: A Snapshot of the Present (PDF)
Programmer, Artist, Designer, Producer. Who determines who has done what on a project so that they can be credited correctly? Currently, the vast majority of game studios are extremely informal in determining who worked on a game, and what function they provided during development. This can be as informal as passing around a sheet of paper where the employee is expected to write down whether he worked on a game and what role they provided, or an oligarchic process where the top managers of a project sit together and try to remember who all touched the game and what their capacity was.
In most cases, the crediting procedure is usually a last minute affair, and can suffer because of this rush. Generally it is up to the individual employee to verify whether his or her name has been included on the list and has been assigned the correct role and has been spelled correctly. Due to the hectic nature of the final phases of shipping a game, this additional burden is often prioritized below most other tasks, and can often ship with errors that can cause frustration later on."