State of the industry

I just read an article over at Gamasutra about the appalling work conditions during the development of LA Noir, and about ego-tripping upper management not even bothering giving credits to the developers, if they are no longer with the company at project completion. Even though some have been working on it for years.

This is just the last report in a long string of reports on how big-budget projects are draining the life out of the developers, and then not giving proper dues.

In the above mentioned article, the comments section blew up over the need of a union in this industry. I couldn’t agree more, and frankly I don’t understand how this has not already happened. For pete’s sake, we’ve been collectively at it for 3-4 decades now. Isn’t that even longer than it took the movie industry to unionize?

I have a vision of creating the most attractive work-place in Sweden. I don’t know how to get there exactly, except to care immensely about my team, and listen to their needs (and of course try and give them that). But I know I’m not gonna get there by making them crunch indefinitely, not giving them appraisal or credit, and generally fucking them over.

I recently found out that there was an old saying – “the most important thing for a company is the customer”, ie. get the money first. It was mentioned because now it’s apparently been replaced with “the most important thing for a company is the team”. My reaction to that was “yes, duh?” The team is everything – and has always been everything, for me.

I have contacted some of the commenters about actually doing something now. There’s been talk about this for a time now, but it seems to fizzle out between scandals. But seeing as the scandals now seem to continue back-to-back, hopefully these discussions will result in some action this time.

I’ll be sure to revisit this subject again. The first thing I’m gonna do now is to research this, see what’s out there. Maybe there’s something I’ve missed?

10 Responses to “State of the industry”

State of the industry http://fb.me/RcsICpVU

Coilworks
2011-07-06

Yeah, I’ve too been surprised in the past on the internet regarding how many americans utterly despise unions.

Anyway, our workplace is already pretty great.
Everyone is nice and there’s fruit and fighting games.
I’ve only ever worked at small tight-knit indie companies, and thus I’ve never felt the need to join any union (though I guess there is an artists union available, but as we say in swedish… orka [“like i’d bother”… or something, untranslatable]).
If you like your workplace, crunching when necessary isn’t very bothersome. And done right with the right preparations it can be kinda fun or at least mildly cozy.

Anton
2011-07-05

It’s very strange for me as a Swede to hear such negative views on unions. For me they stand for fairness and work rights – and I don’t follow what you mean by them ruining other industries.

Maybe the American view on unions is different from the Swedish view. I don’t want to start a flame-war on unions here, but a small part of me is thinking this is due to corporate spin.. Anyways..

But at the same time, I don’t want to get caught up on unions as the one answer, it’s a tool to get the job done. Maybe there are drawbacks, maybe there’s another tool. The big issue is to start putting pressure on AAA publishers / studios to start treating their teams with more respect.

And way before unions come in to play, we first need to start a storm, raise the issue. Put some bad PR on the publishers so they will have to respond.

reallyjoel
2011-07-05

@reallyjoel

Many unions operate what we call ‘closed shops’ here in the US, this means that all employees must join the union as a condition of employment and pay union dues. This is partly to prevent the employer from hiring only employees who are anti-union and partially to lock out competing unions from the workplace. We have ‘open shops’ as well that allow employees to choose whether or not to be a member of the union..sometimes in open shops a employee can choose to receive the union’s payrate, benefits and union dues, or to recieve the company’s ‘default’ package.

I certainly hope unions aren’t the answer, they’ve ruined so many industries. That being said, I have not yet thought of a better answer as software companies don’t seem willing to be fair to the majority of their employees unless forced

Vernon
2011-07-05

Me ranting about unions and work conditions in game dev industry: RT @Ludosity: State of the industry http://bit.ly/jgdFCi

Jeffrey Crenshaw
2011-07-05

It’s not just about credits, it’s about work conditions as a whole. Crunch being one other very hot topic.

Also, I’m not aware that you have to be in any union just because other employees of the same company are. Do workplaces in USA (assuming you’re from there) force employees to join certain unions?

reallyjoel
2011-07-05

No thanks on the unions. I don’t want to be forced to join one to work somewhere. If the devs feel so strongly about being in credits (and rightly they should for their resume), then they can add, (via their lawyer if they ever bother to read their contracts), provsions to their contracts requiring inclusion of their name in the credits of any project they work on for any given amount of time. No union needed.

Jim
2011-07-05

Me ranting about unions and work conditions in game dev industry: RT @Ludosity: State of the industry http://bit.ly/jgdFCi

Dan Farley
2011-07-05

RT @Ludosity: State of the industry http://t.co/JlzH75I

Heath O'Donnell
2011-07-05

Me ranting about unions and work conditions in game dev industry: RT @Ludosity: State of the industry http://bit.ly/jgdFCi

Daniel Kaplan
2011-07-05

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