The wrap up this week has some interesting bits. LucasArts gets a new President, TechTV gets the axe and we find out being a game developer really, really sucks. As usual you'll get to hear our witty commentary and insightful analysis. Though after we type that sentence we keep talking anyway.
Jim Ward Named New President of LucasArts
When I was little I used to daydream about building the Millenium Falcon in the playground behind my house. I had precious little astroengineering experience at the point, but this would not hamper my progress in any way. Then I discovered that Greedo really shot at Han Solo first and I cried and shook my fist at the sky in mute rage. Now I impotently force choke remote opponents on Xbox Live and tremble in abject fear at what asinine lines will be uttered in the final Star Wars movie and I wish I were still on that playground, imagining a large starship going together.
Oh, Jim Ward. Yeah, welcome and all that.
I guess it's only consequent that LucasArts' new head is someone who used to work (and still works) in their movie division seeing the focus of the company. The part about "expanding its range of original games" is pretty funny though two months after the cancellation of Sam&Max 2.
Wait a minute, they're putting the guy who has done "a wonderful job with their film properties" in charge of the gaming division? Let's see, what is LucasFilm's film properties ... there's Star Wars and then ... Indiana Jones, which hasn't had a movie since 1989 ... then Tucker? So at his old job he hasn't done anything decent for 15 years. He'll fit right in at LucasArts!
Video Game Professionals Can Have Better Quality of Life Says International Game Developers Association
Game development is tough work in more ways than one. I have a very good friend who has worked at several game development houses and the simple fact is they work long, hard hours for little pay. Couple that with the common possibility of being laid off the day after you go GM on a product as a healthy "thank you for all your hard work" and it's no wonder you see these kinds of turnover statistics.
Around 5 years ago I got laid off. After interviewing I had 6 job offers, one from a game development house that specialized in flight sims. Their offer -- only counting actual take-home pay -- was over 50% less than the best offer I had, the lowest of all of the offers I had by over 5 figures. As if that's not bad enough, they also had the worst benefit package except for the contracting job which had none.
But younger developers are beating their doors down to get in and work on GAMEZ because it's cool. Yes, it is, but there are definite drawbacks.
I did spend some time looking at the raw data and there certainly are some interesting numbers, although I somehow doubt some of them. 95% of the projects being (financial) failures? Sounds too high for me.
As far as trends go, it seems the younger they are the higher the percentage of females. 13% (of the people with less than 2 years of experience in the gaming industry) is still not really high though. Indie gaming currently seems to be driven by males solely - based on the poll information, of course.
The general conclusion seems to be that developers are working too much and don't get paid appropriatly. Crunch time is an accepted part of the development process and overtime usually isn't compensated according to the answers. I guess the report basically wants to state that working at such a company might not be a dream job in the long run.
Apart from the working conditions the white paper also only confirms that the game development process is plagued by the same problems as the rest of the software business: most of the projects not being finished within the given time and budget and yet many of them are required to be released at a set date. And I don't think abything about that is going to change too soon.
I can't say I found many of these numbers suprising, software projects in general have some of these problems. Though the gaming industry seems to be particularly brutal in the "work way too hard for no money" column. The main problem is the sub-standard pay combined with harsher than usual overtime abuses. There are plenty of jobs for programmers and artists in other industries that pay well, giving them substandard pay could be a serious creative drain down the road. As the survey says, most of the people working in the gaming industry could easily go somewhere else if they wanted.
Honestly, I believe developers when they say they're in the business for the love of the game, because every perspective I hear makes it sound like the actual job blows, but big. It's long hours away from both family and a social life with no promise of job security. It seems to be thankless work 90% of the time with layoffs following product completion leaving out of work devs plenty of time to visit the internet where everyone is draggingÃ‚Â their name through the mud for creating such poor product. Ah, the glamorous life!
Comcast Fires TechTV StaffÃ‚Â
I'm a geek. I'm the intended audience. I loathed this channel and almost every program produced. Obviously the current staff didn't meet my needs. Question is, what does this mean for the future of the channel?
I wouldn't say the current staff didn't meet my needs *wink wink nudge nudge*. Just for clarification, I'm talking about wanting to have sex with several people who worked for TechTV. The thought of them putting all those poor women on the street automatically makes me distrust them, unless that street is my street and they need a place to sleep, bathe, pillow fight, whatever. So in conclusion, my stance is that seeing them on TV is better than not seeing them on TV. So Comcast is bad. Bad Company, Bad.
The person who wears a kilt is a man Pyro, and I don't think he's into pillow fights. I only started watching Tech TV a couple months ago and for the most part it didn't really do anything for me. I understand G4 isn't any better so maybe crap + new crap = gold! I don't know.