Sunday, October 15, 2006

Yet more essay draft. (No game tart today, sorry.)

And why do these kids want to take their place? After all, game development is not a clever way to make money, to have an easy job or to become famous. The only rational reason left to make games, is a love of making games. Game industry employers bank on this; they trade on it to exploit their workers. Would a boss in a car parts manufacturing plant stay in business for long if he said “do unpaid overtime for the sake of the product”? A game industry employer is able to say “do it for the sake of the game”.

Fueled by idealism, and often a fierce sense of creative investment in their work, most game developers have a passionate and overworked five years [reference] before they disappear from the industry. Many work on projects in their spare time. Some mortgage their homes to fund their dream game project, knowing how crazy it is given the risks. Many admit to relationships breakups, health problems and "having no life" as the result of their careers, but accept these negative lifestyle effects as simply "coming with the territory [of game development]".
At worst, this is a manifestation of competitive macho pride, or martyr syndrome
[reference]. With a more generous interpretation, however, this attitude is perhaps comparable with the stereotype of the “suffering artist"; a painter, or writer going against the wishes of friends and family by rejecting a sensible career in law or commerce and choosing a harder, penurious existence for the sake of their art.

The sad difference is that while according to the traditional "suffering artist" narrative the artist wins a degree of creative autonomy for their sacrifice and enjoys in any success that may result, game developers typically make their sacrifices as faceless employees within large, complex systems of corporate stakeholders. This didn't used to be the norm, of course. A decade or two ago it was not so rare to see "bedroom coders" directly reaping the benefits of their own game creating talents. Changes to the objective conditions within the game industry have substantially altered the aspirational (and creative) boundaries for game developers.

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At 7:22 pm, Blogger Patrick Dugan said...

The bedroom coder is becoming reincarnated and pro in the form of the Game Production company. You can work reasonable hours and modulate asset production with outsourcing, it makes much more sense.

At 7:27 pm, Blogger Kipper said...

Good point.

I guess I should put something in there about the new business models emerging, conditions for an indie rennaissance etc....

At 5:46 am, Blogger Patrick Dugan said...

Yeah, this could be a killer paper.

Yo, this blew my mind.


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