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Game developing: Bad career choice?

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by OO7MIKE, Jul 25, 2010.

  1. Sir_Brizz

    Sir_Brizz Administrator Staff Member

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    Part of the problem is that the companies I've been interested in aren't interested in you that much if you seem kind of stingy on the time you will spend at work. There are thousands of bleary eyed children out there ready to take your place for a quarter of your price at any moment because it's THE GAME INDUSTRY(tm).

    Until that mentality is mellowed out, it won't be worth it for me. I'm not interested in competing with basement dwellers and kids willing to work for half of what I already make.
     
  2. Angel_Mapper

    Angel_Mapper Goooooooats

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    Are you guys talking about some kind of bizarro games industry where we're indentured servants working for minimum wage?
     
  3. Jacks:Revenge

    Jacks:Revenge ╠╣E╚╚O

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    well unfortunately, since most of us don't work in the video games industry, all we have to go on are stories from people who do work in the video games industry. and when the aggregate of those stories sound like second-rate horror films, you tend to draw negative conclusions across the board. then again, the bad stories are clearly louder than the good.

    I'm sure it's not as bad as that article (and the following comments) make it sound, but it's obviously not the bastion of sunshine that you may have imagined as a child. the only consensus I can find is that it's a lot "safer" to work for an independent or private developer compared to any one of the mega production firms driven by public profits.

    and it's just a shame that the "Major Leagues," if you will, is the place where most of the horror stories come from. if you want to maintain peace of mind and sanity, you have to stay in the Minors.
     
  4. ambershee

    ambershee Nimbusfish Rawks

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    I wouldn't say it was safer to work for a smaller or indie developer. If anything, they have the same financial stresses that a larger, publisher backed developer will have. When a project comes to a head and the team is ready to move into it's next project, if an individual doesn't necessarily have a place within it right away (e.g how many level designers do you need or can even use when you've only just greenlit a project?), then there's little business sense to keep them on board doing nothing until they become useful once more. In a smaller company, where there will be fewer simultaneous projects running and a tougher financial environment, you can expect this to be much more prevalent.

    It is true that the games industry doesn't pay very well compared to other similar industries. I know I earn around half to as much as a third of what I could elsewhere - but that doesn't mean it's slave labour; I still earn more than enough (nearly triple minimum) to pay the rent on a three bed flat for myself in a nice area, pay all the bills and enjoy various luxuries.

    I actually prefer working in games, as it allows you to be fairly 'mercenary' and still see projects through to completion. I'd go mad working on the same piece of software for years on end, or even the majority of my career.
     
  5. Sir_Brizz

    Sir_Brizz Administrator Staff Member

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    I definitely don't think it's slave labor. It's just the fact that you are easily replaceable and your wage (generally) reflects that. Even with all the programming experience I have, I would have to take a roughly 50% pay cut just to get started in the industry. Sure that could go up, perhaps rapidly up, but taking the initial paycut is really not a reality for me.
     
  6. Mozi

    Mozi Zer0 as a number

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    Being in the industry for almost 5 years now I have seen two different sides to it. The first was working for Activision. We all have heard stories and have our own impressions of the company, aka "the evil publisher'. However, putting that aside if one looks at Activision from a business view, they are a corporation. They report to share holders, investors etc etc. Not the individuals in the trenches making the games.

    When an individual at corporation feels screwed over due to lack of creative control, issues with management, limited increases in salary and bonuses, the corporation simply does not care. At the end of the day they care about the value of the company. Okay perhaps saying they don't care is a bit harsh but the simple fact is corporations have other priorities than the happiness of the individual, they care about the value of the company as a business.

    I don't have any data to back this up but most of the time when we hear of industry layoff they come from the corporations, such as when we hear "Activision laid off x number of people from studio y" or "EA has let go of x number of people from project y". Though that's not to say indie companies let go of people too, they do but rarely this why I think that.

    Indie companies that are not owned by a corporation, such as some big names like Valve, Epic, and Gearbox and even smaller indie companies like Pop Cap (can't think of other names but I am sure there are more) seem to take more value into the individual. Without the individual no work gets done, if no work gets done, the project suffers, if the project suffers the company suffers. Again this just my thinking, not fact.

    So is the games industry a bad career choice, not really. I worked for the mega corporation and yes I did feel like I got screwed over, but it was easier for me to get my foot in the door there than some of the more prestigious indie companies. Once I had my fill of working for "the man" I left on my own accord to pursue what I wanted to do most level design. Now working at Gearbox for almost a year I see totally different view of how games are made and how the overall lifestyle and culture is for the development of video games compared the way of the corporation.

    Overall working in games requires passion, if someone seems to like games and just wants a "job and a paycheck" yeah you are going to feel screwed. If you come in to work everyday ready to rock out the next level or code like never before then making games becomes awesome. However, it's human nature to become tired with what one does even it is awesome and even if you have the passion for it. And when that happens a person always has the right to move on to what they want to do.

    Though we are talking about the games industry, things mentioned in that article occur in other fields as well. I have had friends that worked in IT for different companies. Some of the horror stories I heard from them about their jobs made me happy that I choose game design over data base programming (which I went to school for). But then I have heard stories where some of my friends landed decent gigs in IT. It all depends on the company's motives, principles and business practices.

    Though one last thing I will say, not just in the games industry, but any industry if you feel like you are being screwed over voice your concerns. People are around you will never ask you if you are being screwed over, nor will your bosses. I voiced my concerns but given the way the company was run my concerns could not be met, so I quit. People have the right to move on when their needs and desires are not fulfilled at their places of employment.

    Hopefully this all made sense....
     
  7. shadow_dragon

    shadow_dragon is ironing his panties!

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    And who has this expectation?
     
  8. Lruce Bee

    Lruce Bee Transcending to another level

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    I think the better question would be "What's a good career choice?"
    Tough question to answer since there aren't many jobs for life these days.
    I used to be in a job that I thought was for life - UK Civil Service/Government Jockey.
    When I started it was decent money, good prospects and a safe bet to see me through to retirement.
    I did 14 years in that job and although it ticked all the right boxes, I got bored and wanted something else.
    Cue 2007 when I decided to get all the stuff I'd made using the Unreal Editor, mix in some stuff I started working on in Maya - knock up a quick online portfolio and send it off to a games recruitment Agency for ****s & giggles (honestly didn't think I'd get anywhere) and see what happens.
    I was still working as a civil servant here in the UK but within 2 weeks I'd got 3 interviews lined up at Media Molecule for Little Big Planet, Kuju in Sheffield on some Unreal project and Evolution Studios working on a new Motorstorm project.
    I couldn't believe it.
    Took the Evo job and I've been there for over 3 years now.
    Was it a bad career choice? - Hell No.
     
  9. evilmrfrank

    evilmrfrank Banned

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    I did like his comments on the whole "Your in the gaming industry so you must just play video games all day" I get that a ton and its really frikin annoying, but how do you tell people who know nothing about gaming that you dont just sit around playing games all day? :B
     
  10. Kantham

    Kantham Fool.

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    Playing video games all day is pretty much QA (game tester) and then he still has to write down all of what he thinks needs improvement and what he feel is good and I heard it's a long road.

    It's funny though, I have been hearing from people who work in the industry for a while, and never I have ever heard about people telling them they only play video games all day long. I suppose it simply doesn't affect them all that much.

    If you take the guy who works in a cab or on rooftops fulltime no matter of the weather, being that person I'd start getting pissed off every time someone mentions about the gaming industry whether I'd know or not know about it.

    FAGS THAT PLAYS VIDEO GAMES ALL DAY!!!!
     
  11. Festering Anus

    Festering Anus Cheeto Hans

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    I play photoshop and dreamweaver all day, awesome games
     
  12. JaFO

    JaFO bugs are features too ...

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    PHB's do, people that don't know what creating software really requires (usually clients/consumers) as well as the school-system is still incapable of teaching this.
    Kids are still taught to write code before they're taught how to design and document anything.


    /me wonders if there are any level-designers with a degree in real-world architecture. I think it would make sense and we might see better/more realistic levels in games.
    (In the movie Inception the level-designer is student wanting to be a real-world architect ... and IMHO it makes sense )
     
  13. TomWithTheWeather

    TomWithTheWeather Die Paper Robots!

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    I worked as contract level design position at Epic for around 7 months during 2003-2004 and have been working full-time at Gearbox since 2004. I've not had any experience at the bigger "factory" studios own by major publishers, so I've generally had a good time in the industry.

    It really depends on where you work. All places have strengths and weaknesses and all companies have good times and bad. Bigger, publisher-owned dev studios generally have more worker turn-around due the nature of their business: they have strict deadlines, they hire cheaper talent, and they brute-force a game onto store shelves. Once the game is on the shelf and they have a chunk of employees that are idling, they let them go. That's when you see these headlines where 30 or 40 people got the axe.

    But that business model is slowing changing I think. The big industry is moving towards micro-transactions, extra content packs, etc, in an effort to combat piracy and one side effect is that those idle workers can now be put to work after the main game has shipped.

    Gearbox has generally avoided big layoffs by having multiple, staggered projects in development at once. Most of the developers might be in full production on one game while a few are grinding through pre-production on another. We are able to keep our employees because we always have something for everyone to do. I think many of the other independent dev studios operate in similar ways. Valve, id, and Epic I'm sure all have multiple projects happening at the same time.

    Basically, if you want the most job security in the game industry, work for a stable, proven independent studio and be talented. People come and go at all companies for various reasons (shoot, here at Gearbox we had a guy leave today) but to avoid mass layoffs, don't go to work for a major publisher studio.
     
  14. WedgeBob

    WedgeBob XSI Mod Tool User

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    Heh...almost as good as playing Excel and some billing software all day.
     
  15. Dont be a nubcake

    Dont be a nubcake New Member

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    I've considered it a hobby since roughly 2007/2008. Much more fun;) I Agree with Brizz.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 27, 2010

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