Media Molecule - "We aren't curing cancer. There's a human cost to making games".

IbizaPocholo

NeoGAFs Kent Brockman
Dec 1, 2014
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Dozens of industry professionals and aspiring game makers attended this year's BAFTA Games Lecture to hear Media Molecule's Siobhan Reddy discuss "the human cost of making games" and how it can be managed.

Hosted at the Academy's London HQ last night, the studio director touched on the concept of "glitter and doom" - something she has explored in previous speeches - as well as why her team is dedicated to making titles that enable players to create their own games.

"I am pretty sure I was born playing make believe," she began. "Whether it was playing with dolls, Lego, paints or in the pool, I always remember creating my own worlds and adventures. The most wonderful part of being a child is only needing your imagination for play. Whether it was watering the garden and imagining the natural disaster happening below to the imps and faeries, or the world clean-up operation that was vacuuming... I was always a bit lost in my imagination and it's fair to say not an efficient chore do-er."

This has become a key driver in her desire to make games, as has working with countless other creatives in doing so. She cited the "sense of community, joy of playing together and the thrill of seeing people enjoy what we have made" as the most rewarding and fascinating parts of the job.


"There is also no one in the world that will do things exactly like someone else," Reddy said. "Each person is an important piece of that final project. Having the right people on the right project can make a huge difference in so many diverse, intangible ways. If a person is missing, the project changes. If you have the right person in a role, they can go far beyond your expectations."

The studio director added this can be further seen by the thriving community of developers based in Media Molecule's hometown of Guildford, such as Fireproof, Criterion Games, Hello Games, Supermassive and UK offices for publishers like EA and Ubisoft.

"In the 20 years that I have been working in games there has been such a growth in people - make-believers - both amateur and professional because of the accessibility of tools like Unity and Unreal, the ability to learn from generosity of communities with Wikipedia and YouTube, the opportunities for independent developers and wealth of publishing platforms that now exist. The size, and focus of the industry has evolved into something vast and amorphous."

But with this growth comes new challenges.

"Making a good game often isn't enough," Reddy said. "There are so many factors to success. But the core of that, for me is people. "

She spoke of the lessons learned during her time at Criterion, where she worked on Airblade as well as some of the Burnout titles. Over the course of seven years, she began to truly understand the effect games development can have on its team - both in a positive and negative way - and came away with a revelation.

"We are making entertainment," she emphasised. "We aren't curing cancer. We need to understand the human cost of making games and make the doom manageable."

She added that making games is "an artisanal production, rather than a factory line", and that the "fingerprints" of every developer can be seen in the final products.

Check the link for more.
 
Jul 24, 2018
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"We aren't curing cancer."

What a dumb statement and stupid comparison to make to justify mediocrity.

People live for art. I think art is actually more important than the medical field when it comes to overall quality of life. The developers of most seminal games killed themselves to get them out the door, it shows, and it was worth it.

Go ahead, "Siobhan." Make your comfortable games in your cozy work environment that all mysteriously end up DULL. I'll continue to open the occasional video, not be impressed, and play other real games.
 
Jan 27, 2018
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People live for art. I think art is actually more important than the medical field when it comes to overall quality of life. The developers of most seminal games killed themselves to get them out the door, it shows, and it was worth it.
I could be convinced either way on this. Does excellence require exhaustion and burnout? Certainly they are frequently found together. But are they necessarily connected? Is there the possibility of finding ways to pursue excellence without crushing your team?
 
Jul 24, 2018
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I could be convinced either way on this. Does excellence require exhaustion and burnout? Certainly they are frequently found together. But are they necessarily connected? Is there the possibility of finding ways to pursue excellence without crushing your team?
Whenever I read interviews surrounding a great or seminal game, the developers invariably lived at work, never went home, pulled all nighters, killed themselves. Hell, that SOR2 interview I linked not too long ago said it.

If you're really passionate about something, it's basically your life. There's no such thing as work/life balance because the work is your life.

Games made with a culture of it being a 9-5 job end up like games that look like someone worked on it 9-5. It's not good enough. We need to stop pretending that creating art is some kind of desk job. If you turn it into that, you get boring games like these and soul-less corporate Hollywood movies.
 
Likes: ROMhack
Jan 28, 2018
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It's mostly corporate bullshit, and that line about cancer is egregious...

The reason why developing has BECOME so hard, well except if you're an indie it's always been hard because of the lack of budget and team, but in these big corporations the reason why they burn-out is because of how fucking mediocre direction, management, structure, planification is riddling more and more of these studios, and most importantly the disgusting leeches scum investors that are milking (stealing if you really get down to the bottom of things but that's another topic) with no work, no sweat, no contribution, not even risk, most of the juice and money out of slimmer and slimmer teams under more and more pressure.
 
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It's mostly corporate bullshit, and that line about cancer is egregious...

The reason why developing has BECOME so hard, well except if you're an indie it's always been hard because of the lack of budget and team, but in these big corporations the reason why they burn-out is because of how fucking mediocre direction, management, structure, planification is riddling more and more of these studios, and most importantly the disgusting leeches scum investors that are milking (stealing if you really get down to the bottom of things but that's another topic) with no work, no sweat, no contribution, not even risk, most of the juice and money out of slimmer and slimmer teams under more and more pressure.
Heh exactly. It's so disingenuous. "I worked on Burnout games." Well there you go. Of course you're going to burn out and hate going to work when making cookie cutter sequels to a boring racing franchise. Who is going to work long hours passionately for a fucking Burnout game?

We all know the truth. You have to keep team sizes small (15 people max), artists need to be allowed to work on projects they're passionate about (ie. not Burnout 74), the suits need to get out of there because they contribute nothing anyway. '90s game dev was the sweet spot. The team size was right, there was limited managerial overhead, business guys pretty much only did actual business tasks such as publishing. Games were made by people who actually played video games.

Contemporary game dev is a fucking circus and the results speak for themselves. Games are overwhelmingly trash.
 
Likes: LucidFeuer
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Whenever I read interviews surrounding a great or seminal game, the developers invariably lived at work, never went home, pulled all nighters, killed themselves. Hell, that SOR2 interview I linked not too long ago said it.

If you're really passionate about something, it's basically your life. There's no such thing as work/life balance because the work is your life.

Games made with a culture of it being a 9-5 job end up like games that look like someone worked on it 9-5. It's not good enough. We need to stop pretending that creating art is some kind of desk job. If you turn it into that, you get boring games like these and soul-less corporate Hollywood movies.
You have no idea what you are talking about.
 
Oct 26, 2014
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Heh exactly. It's so disingenuous. "I worked on Burnout games." Well there you go. Of course you're going to burn out and hate going to work when making cookie cutter sequels to a boring racing franchise. Who is going to work long hours passionately for a fucking Burnout game?

We all know the truth. You have to keep team sizes small (15 people max), artists need to be allowed to work on projects they're passionate about (ie. not Burnout 74), the suits need to get out of there because they contribute nothing anyway. '90s game dev was the sweet spot. The team size was right, there was limited managerial overhead, business guys pretty much only did actual business tasks such as publishing. Games were made by people who actually played video games.

Contemporary game dev is a fucking circus and the results speak for themselves. Games are overwhelmingly trash.
What? Burnout was not cookie cutter or boring. What are you saying?
 
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Ah man I can associate with her on the make believe stuff. I used to hear voices come out of the GI Joe's and Legos. My favorite plot twist was when the closest friend would betray the hero.

I think games should be made with love, like grandma's home cooking. How can your game be good if it has no soul?
 
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"We aren't curing cancer."

What a dumb statement and stupid comparison to make to justify mediocrity.

People live for art. I think art is actually more important than the medical field when it comes to overall quality of life. The developers of most seminal games killed themselves to get them out the door, it shows, and it was worth it.

Go ahead, "Siobhan." Make your comfortable games in your cozy work environment that all mysteriously end up DULL. I'll continue to open the occasional video, not be impressed, and play other real games.
Not agreed with you at all.
 
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Newsflash: Passion is a finite commodity.

You can wear the most passionate, dedicated and talented creative out real fast if you continually overwork them. And when people burn out, they rarely come back, they are done with it.

The work/life balance is crucial for longevity in the business, and without longevity you get no personal growth and attainment of potential, instead of being passed on, knowledge and insight just gets lost. People are not disposable widgets.
 
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Whenever I read interviews surrounding a great or seminal game, the developers invariably lived at work, never went home, pulled all nighters, killed themselves. Hell, that SOR2 interview I linked not too long ago said it.

If you're really passionate about something, it's basically your life. There's no such thing as work/life balance because the work is your life.

Games made with a culture of it being a 9-5 job end up like games that look like someone worked on it 9-5. It's not good enough. We need to stop pretending that creating art is some kind of desk job. If you turn it into that, you get boring games like these and soul-less corporate Hollywood movies.
I once worked a job where I started at 8am and finished at 1am. In no way was I a better worker or more efficient. Your comment is total horse shit.

I ended up getting very sick, depressed and stopped working entirely. The concept that you can't love something unless you are slave to it is a fuckin joke.
 

Claus Grimhildyr

Vincit qui se vincit
Jan 30, 2018
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"We aren't curing cancer."

What a dumb statement and stupid comparison to make to justify mediocrity.

People live for art. I think art is actually more important than the medical field when it comes to overall quality of life. The developers of most seminal games killed themselves to get them out the door, it shows, and it was worth it.

Go ahead, "Siobhan." Make your comfortable games in your cozy work environment that all mysteriously end up DULL. I'll continue to open the occasional video, not be impressed, and play other real games.
Enjoy your art as you die of smallpox. I am sure it was worth it. :p

Jokes aside, you don't need to kill yourself to make a game. A smart director and intelligent use of time - you will be able to produce a great game. This also goes for any scientific pursuit. Only people who are bad at time management and feature/data creep let themselves be overwhelmed. Assuming they don't have dumbass managers who don't understand how things in the field work.
 
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"We aren't curing cancer"?
Well, no one is. Tell us instead what you are doing.
This wasn't a trailer for a game. I don't understand the fixation on that quote and people calling her dumb or "corporate bullshit "while making the exact point she was making.

She is saying games development is art and unlike a factory line and other careers the wellbeing of the people making entertainment shows in the game. She is saying small teams are good because there is more creative influence, creative freedom is good instead of making games 'by the numbers' with spreadsheets. She is the exact opposite of corporate bullshit.

For anybody who is actually interested in what she says and has an attention span that extends beyond reading only the title of the article the presentation can be found here

If you are interested only in the quote it's at around the 15 minute mark.

And the original article here (it's missing in the OP)
https://www.gamesindustry.biz/artic...-to-understand-the-human-cost-of-making-games

We aren't curing cancer? I don't understand the comparison to a development team known to release tool kits and charge $60 for it.
Tell us how you really feel Louis.
 
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"We aren't curing cancer."

What a dumb statement and stupid comparison to make to justify mediocrity.

People live for art. I think art is actually more important than the medical field when it comes to overall quality of life. The developers of most seminal games killed themselves to get them out the door, it shows, and it was worth it.

Go ahead, "Siobhan." Make your comfortable games in your cozy work environment that all mysteriously end up DULL. I'll continue to open the occasional video, not be impressed, and play other real games.
This is actually the stupidest post I have ever read here on neogaf. And I`ve been around since Gaming Age in 2006 :D
 
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This wasn't a trailer for a game. I don't understand the fixation on that quote and people calling her dumb or "corporate bullshit "while making the exact point she was making.

She is saying games development is art and unlike a factory line and other careers the wellbeing of the people making entertainment shows in the game. She is saying small teams are good because there is more creative influence, creative freedom is good instead of making games 'by the numbers' with spreadsheets. She is the exact opposite of corporate bullshit.
Exact opposite of corporate bullshit? Little Big Planet has hundreds of items for sale and they signed exclusively with one of the most corporate companies out there.
 
Oct 26, 2014
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Exact opposite of corporate bullshit? Little Big Planet has hundreds of items for sale and they signed exclusively with one of the most corporate companies out there.
Right, because that's naturally the leap of logic you get out of that post. Little big planet sells items therefore the presentation and anything she says is corporate bullshit. Even if she is saying games should be about art and people. Good going.

I would never have taken your post seriously but what makes it more laughable is the fact that you are such an advocate of Microsoft instead. You know the people who introduced items on their storefront first with that infamous horse armour. Who introduced ads too. Does that make anything and everything anyone says from here on out "corporate bullshit" or would you jump to their defence like you usually do?
 
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"We aren't curing cancer."

What a dumb statement and stupid comparison to make to justify mediocrity.

People live for art. I think art is actually more important than the medical field when it comes to overall quality of life. The developers of most seminal games killed themselves to get them out the door, it shows, and it was worth it.

Go ahead, "Siobhan." Make your comfortable games in your cozy work environment that all mysteriously end up DULL. I'll continue to open the occasional video, not be impressed, and play other real games.
Whenever I read interviews surrounding a great or seminal game, the developers invariably lived at work, never went home, pulled all nighters, killed themselves. Hell, that SOR2 interview I linked not too long ago said it.

If you're really passionate about something, it's basically your life. There's no such thing as work/life balance because the work is your life.

Games made with a culture of it being a 9-5 job end up like games that look like someone worked on it 9-5. It's not good enough. We need to stop pretending that creating art is some kind of desk job. If you turn it into that, you get boring games like these and soul-less corporate Hollywood movies.
Okay sir. I have to respectfully ask what it is that you do for a living.
 
Jun 5, 2011
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Right, because that's naturally the leap of logic you get out of that post. Little big planet sells items therefore the presentation and anything she says is corporate bullshit. Even if she is saying games should be about art and people. Good going.

I would never have taken your post seriously but what makes it more laughable is the fact that you are such an advocate of Microsoft instead. You know the people who introduced items on their storefront first with that infamous horse armour. Who introduced ads too. Does that make anything and everything anyone says from here on out "corporate bullshit" or would you jump to their defence like you usually do?
Oh here we go, the Sony defense force in full action once again. Sure, games should be about art but the art is not really about them now is it since the art is really based upon the creator using the tools they provide. We are the artist, not them. So I guess when she implies we are not curing cancer she really means all of us.




Yup, I'm such an advocate of Microsoft. Or maybe, just maybe, I'm not the biggest fans of some Sony fans/enthusiasts/loyalists out there.
 
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Fbh

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Dec 6, 2013
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I don't get what's so bad about what she said.

Maybe I'm reading it wrong but it just sounds like she is saying "hey, we are just making videogames. Maybe let's not overwork ourselves to death ?"


Also, in big games the ones pulling ridiculous crunches aren't just the passionate directors set on creating their artistic vision. It's also a lot of regular workers like you or me
 
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Jan 21, 2015
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What's so frustrating about these threads is that we get all these people who seem to think that people should work themselves to death to entertain them for their $60. I really want to know what some of these people do for a living since they seem so quick to say that others quality of life is not important and they should kill themselves to entertain THEM as if these people are court jesters and they are some feudal king. GTFOH with that sentiment.

I work my ass off, and yes, I am very well compensated, but I do not think that people who produce GAMES are supposed to work themselves to death for my entertainment.

I'm sure I make multiples more than some of these developers you people want to see die at a keyboard, and while I work hard, my QOL is of serious import to me.

I swear I am really out of touch with what seems to be the majority these days...
 
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What's so frustrating about these threads is that we get all these people who seem to think that people should work themselves to death to entertain them for their $60. I really want to know what some of these people do for a living since they seem so quick to say that others quality of life is not important and they should kill themselves to entertain THEM as if these people are court jesters and they are some feudal king. GTFOH with that sentiment.

I work my ass off, and yes, I am very well compensated, but I do not think that people who produce GAMES are supposed to work themselves to death for my entertainment.

I'm sure I make multiples more than some of these developers you people want to see die at a keyboard, and while I work hard, my QOL is of serious import to me.

I swear I am really out of touch with what seems to be the majority these days...
Well here's a thought, STOP SHOWING GAMES SO MANY YEARS BEFORE RELEASE.
 
May 18, 2013
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"We aren't curing cancer."

What a dumb statement and stupid comparison to make to justify mediocrity.

People live for art. I think art is actually more important than the medical field when it comes to overall quality of life. The developers of most seminal games killed themselves to get them out the door, it shows, and it was worth it.

Go ahead, "Siobhan." Make your comfortable games in your cozy work environment that all mysteriously end up DULL. I'll continue to open the occasional video, not be impressed, and play other real games.
This is an awful post. No, the value of your entertainment is in no way comparable to the value of "the medical field." What the fuck were you thinking writing that shit. Post that idiocy somewhere with a real name policy and let this myopic selfish stupidity follow you for the rest of your life if you truly believe it.

I am not underestimating the value of games, either. I agree with you that they are art, and yes the right story, or the right escape at the right time could even change someone's life for the better. The power is real, but your perspective is backwards and bizarre. The people who make them deserve better than to have their passion for their art exploited by their employers until they burn out and have to quit the industry.

You essentially said that the game developers need to suffer because you can't think of any examples of games you personally liked that were well known for having a healthy work environment. Not only does it setup a false dichotomy (exploit workers or make a bad game) it has the arrogance to candidly suggest that every game you do not personally enjoy is dull. It's people like you who cannot be bothered to see beyond their own selfish needs that really make all of us gamers look like selfish pieces of shit. And worst of all, you aren't even going to bat for quality in gaming of any kind. All you are going to bat for is exploitative business practices.

What a pathetic excuse of a post.
 
Jul 24, 2018
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This is an awful post. No, the value of your entertainment is in no way comparable to the value of "the medical field." What the fuck were you thinking writing that shit. Post that idiocy somewhere with a real name policy and let this myopic selfish stupidity follow you for the rest of your life if you truly believe it.

I am not underestimating the value of games, either. I agree with you that they are art, and yes the right story, or the right escape at the right time could even change someone's life for the better. The power is real, but your perspective is backwards and bizarre. The people who make them deserve better than to have their passion for their art exploited by their employers until they burn out and have to quit the industry.

You essentially said that the game developers need to suffer because you can't think of any examples of games you personally liked that were well known for having a healthy work environment. Not only does it setup a false dichotomy (exploit workers or make a bad game) it has the arrogance to candidly suggest that every game you do not personally enjoy is dull. It's people like you who cannot be bothered to see beyond their own selfish needs that really make all of us gamers look like selfish pieces of shit. And worst of all, you aren't even going to bat for quality in gaming of any kind. All you are going to bat for is exploitative business practices.

What a pathetic excuse of a post.
Art is more important than the medical field. Suck it.

Oh and the rest of your points are invalid and absurd.

I don't like RTS games. Never liked a single one. I recognize that they're amazing for people, though.

Here's an article about the development of Starcraft, one of the masterpieces of the genre. Guess what? Living at work, pulling all nighters, 14 months of crunching. What a coincidence.

https://www.codeofhonor.com/blog/starcraft-orcs-in-space-go-down-in-flames

It really is true. Literally every good game ever made is the product of obsession and what boring people would call "unhealthy." Thanks for trying to ruin games, guys.
 
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Art is more important than the medical field. Suck it.

Oh and the rest of your points are invalid and absurd.

I don't like RTS games. Never liked a single one. I recognize that they're amazing for people, though.

Here's an article about the development of Starcraft, one of the masterpieces of the genre. Guess what? Living at work, pulling all nighters, 14 months of crunching. What a coincidence.

https://www.codeofhonor.com/blog/starcraft-orcs-in-space-go-down-in-flames

It really is true. Literally every good game ever made is the product of obsession and what boring people would call "unhealthy." Thanks for trying to ruin games, guys.
Claiming a point is invalid or absurd is not the same as demonstrating it. I'm going to level with you, I was perfectly aware that you were going to double down before I even began writing my response. I still took the time because I like to think truth has just enough value to be occasionally worth it for it's own sake.

But ultimately, unfucking the ideas expressed in your posts is not my responsibility. My actual opinion of you the individual is that you don't care what kind of idiotic things you say, you think none of it matters, so you'll just post whatever flies into your head when you want to get a rise out of people.

All you have shown yourself capable of is apathy and repetition. You're free to do that of course, but if you think it requires any kind of intelligence you are fooling yourself. It's transparent and vacuous. Try to understand, I'm not really judging you that harshly as a person. I don't pretend to know you, apart from the impression your poorly thought out posts provide. I've rebutted your ideas, and you just repeated them because that's all you are here for. If that's how you want to spend your time, by all means, carry on making the forum stupider. The reason more people aren't arguing with you is because you haven't shown yourself to be worth their time. I've already given you enough of mine.

Go ahead and repeat yourself more, but don't imagine for a second that you are doing anything other than rolling around in a pile of dogshit, because for whatever fucked up reason, it seems to make you feel good.
 
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Likes: RScrewed
Jul 24, 2018
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#37
Claiming a point is invalid or absurd is not the same as demonstrating it. I'm going to level with you, I was perfectly aware that you were going to double down before I even began writing my response. I still took the time because I like to think truth has just enough value to be occasionally worth it for it's own sake.

But ultimately, unfucking the ideas expressed in your posts is not my responsibility. My actual opinion of you the individual is that you don't care what kind of idiotic things you say, you think none of it matters, so you'll just post whatever flies into your head when you want to get a rise out of people.

All you have shown yourself capable of is apathy and repetition. You're free to do that of course, but if you think it requires any kind of intelligence you are fooling yourself. It's transparent and vacuous. Try to understand, I'm not really judging you that harshly as a person. I don't pretend to know you, apart from the impression your poorly thought out posts provide. I've rebutted your ideas, and you just repeated them because that's all you are here for. If that's how you want to spend your time, by all means, carry on making the forum stupider. The reason more people aren't arguing with you is because you haven't shown yourself to be worth their time. I've already given you enough of mine.

Go ahead and repeat yourself more, but don't imagine for a second that you are doing anything other than rolling around in the a pile of dogshit, because for whatever fucked up reason, it seems to make you feel good.
Actually, you didn't rebut anything. I can list dozens of games that support my claim. You didn't do anything other than suggest that I should be some kind of pariah for expressing an opinion on a forum. You were mostly just insulting. You're far more offensive than anything I wrote that you're pretended to be offended by. Go troll someone else. You're ignored.
 
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#38
I hate the fact that everybody seems to be on the bandwagon of crying about quality of life for gaming professionals. You know who has a shitty quality of life? People that work at the DMV, or Wal Mart, or work nights to pay rent. Artists who work long hours for six figure income don't qualify for giant pity parties, sorry.

Source? Me, who used to work long hours on TV shows and films for decent money. Yeah, we had crunch. Yeah, we had a month straight of six or seven day work weeks, and little social life outside of the studio. But we also took long lunches, watched Babylon V at our desks while we rendered, and had beer after 5 o'clock. Some days the job sucked. Other days it was the best job in the world, and most people remember it that way.

If developers want to feel sorry for themselves, they should go find jobs working in the sun, breaking rocks, and then see how fast they run back to their ergonomic desk chair and action figure-laden desk.
 
Likes: Zeusexy
Jul 24, 2018
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#39
I hate the fact that everybody seems to be on the bandwagon of crying about quality of life for gaming professionals. You know who has a shitty quality of life? People that work at the DMV, or Wal Mart, or work nights to pay rent. Artists who work long hours for six figure income don't qualify for giant pity parties, sorry.

Source? Me, who used to work long hours on TV shows and films for decent money. Yeah, we had crunch. Yeah, we had a month straight of six or seven day work weeks, and little social life outside of the studio. But we also took long lunches, watched Babylon V at our desks while we rendered, and had beer after 5 o'clock. Some days the job sucked. Other days it was the best job in the world, and most people remember it that way.

If developers want to feel sorry for themselves, they should go find jobs working in the sun, breaking rocks, and then see how fast they run back to their ergonomic desk chair and action figure-laden desk.
Treating the creation of art like a 9-5 desk job is a complete joke. You can't make games on a production line. When you do, you end up with Assassin's Creed 47. The end product is not good. It's an artistic process fueled by passion and inspiration if you actually want something that isn't crap.
 
Oct 26, 2014
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#42
Oh here we go, the Sony defense force in full action once again. Sure, games should be about art but the art is not really about them now is it since the art is really based upon the creator using the tools they provide. We are the artist, not them. So I guess when she implies we are not curing cancer she really means all of us.



Yup, I'm such an advocate of Microsoft. Or maybe, just maybe, I'm not the biggest fans of some Sony fans/enthusiasts/loyalists out there.
No it's not because there are levels, there are assets and art they have created you are using or you can decide to create your own. There is tearaway. You can pretend that those games have no creative input but I think you would be wildly wrong. Not sure what you were proving with that copy of LBP either and you missed the point that selling items (more created assets) or being owned by Sony does not make everything you say become corporate bullshit.
 
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Zewp

Member
Mar 19, 2013
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#44
Whenever I read interviews surrounding a great or seminal game, the developers invariably lived at work, never went home, pulled all nighters, killed themselves. Hell, that SOR2 interview I linked not too long ago said it.

If you're really passionate about something, it's basically your life. There's no such thing as work/life balance because the work is your life.

Games made with a culture of it being a 9-5 job end up like games that look like someone worked on it 9-5. It's not good enough. We need to stop pretending that creating art is some kind of desk job. If you turn it into that, you get boring games like these and soul-less corporate Hollywood movies.
There's no way you can be in any kind of management position overseeing creatives or other intellectual pursuits, because the naivety here is off the charts.

If you're working in videogames you can't have work-life balance because you're working in 'art'? You can't work in 'art' unless you're willing to give up any semblance of a life outside of it? You're not passionate enough and can't make good games unless you're working 80 hour weeks? Any development studio that doesn't work their employees like slaves are going to put out mediocre games? Wtf.

I know you're trying to be edgy, but no. Research is continuously proving that reasonable work-life balance is the key to successful business in the long run. With reasonable hours your employees are more effective, they're more productive, make less mistakes, deliver better results in general and they don't get burnt out. No amount of passion is going to prevent burnout when you've barely seen your family in weeks and your insane schedule is causing you to develop serious mental and physical health problems.

You need to get off your high horse and realise that your idealised view of what videogame development is, is ridiculous. For many people it is nothing more than a 9 - 5 and that's fine. When 100s of people are working on a project you can't expect everyone to be equally passionate about it. You think everyone who's working on Red Dead Redemption 2 is equally passionate and makes their work their lives?
When a videogame turns out to be mediocre there can be a plethora of reasons for why. Bad direction, bad resource management, lack of vision from management, bad deadlines, etc. "Bearable work conditions that don't make your employees' lives a nightmare" is not likely to be a reason why a game fails.
 
Jul 14, 2018
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#46
I kind of get what Dirthead is saying about great art requiring sacrifices and it often being born from passion projects and it being likely that a corporate structure 9-5 life where I can take the kids to school in the morning and make sure I get to my yoga/boxfit class at 7pm probably won't lead to great artistic works but I think his/her argument leans too heavily on seeing all games as great art when that's obviously not true.

I think Siobhan is correct in likening developers to 'artisans', especially with regard to the very talented people working on the development of big games that seek to enter and break ground in the mainstream market (most games we hear about). Those people often make great projects but why we have to justify it as 'art' is beyond me. Can't it just be a very accomplished thing in its own right?
 
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I think it's clear; the happier, healthier and the more motivated your workers are on the job, the better your project will become......

So she's right, it's not only about making a good game, but when everybody feels that their footprint is there somewhere in a project; an idea, a tech implementation etc...then it becomes more about a team of workers who worked well together with little to no infighting, where all ideas are appreciated and where people support each other and can respect the final decision....

Santa Monica under Barlog is such a team, Barlog is a great director who wants everybody's input and that drives people more than anything. So of course you may put in a bit more work for such a developer......Yet people must understand that just demanding long hours, sleeping under your desk is not a formula for a game's success...... In essence, jeopardizing an employee's health (physical, emotional) is actually counterproductive to producing good work. We are human, not robots at a line; we need to eat properly, sleep properly and we need proper social interaction to complete a circle of health and happiness.

Many of the studios which demand working you like a horse often give the worse compensation packages anyway, workers don't get paid for months et al, it's not a good or motivating strategy, so in the end, whilst workers may put in the hours, they're never working at their optimum or giving their best work. Give me a guy who puts in great work for 8 hours daily over a guy who does 16 hours and just twiddles his thumbs for most of that, because he's drained, not motivated etc....Persons may do 16 in a volatile market, because they want a job, but they will do as little as possible during that time-lapse. There's no way any human will give you quality work for 16 hours straight.......Send him home, let him rest, eat and commune with his family and resume the next day....

Yet, people can give more, but in my experience, it's always better when people give more on their own volition; because they are satisfied with the job terms, the compensation, the team spirit or the job itself.....A worker who chooses to stay back to improve on something, finish a module, will always produce better work than one where they feel it's demanded.....or else....
 
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Glad there's been some pushback in this thread since I last posted, I really didn't see any issue with the "not curing cancer" metaphor, and honestly some of those first comments were just infuriating.

The thing about games is that they require a lot of collaboration, and the likelihood of everyone on the team being manically determined to work themselves into exhaustion for the good of the project shrinks to zero the more people are involved. What actually happens is that more people feel obligated to overwork so as not to appear lazy, disloyal, or simply unbefitting of the team culture. This does not make them happy, affects the quality if not quantity of their work, and that discontent can be contagious.

Crunching is to some degree unavoidable when the creative process is bound to business imperatives like delivering to a certain deadline, its explicitly the life of the artisan versus the artist. The key is managing crunch so as not to burn-out too many people and is something that studios often fail to do, often thanks to lacking organization or basic comprehension of the long-term effects on the workforce.
 
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Zewp

Member
Mar 19, 2013
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#50
I kind of get what Dirthead is saying about great art requiring sacrifices and it often being born from passion projects and it being likely that a corporate structure 9-5 life where I can take the kids to school in the morning and make sure I get to my yoga/boxfit class at 7pm probably won't lead to great artistic works but I think his/her argument leans too heavily on seeing all games as great art when that's obviously not true.

I think Siobhan is correct in likening developers to 'artisans', especially with regard to the very talented people working on the development of big games that seek to enter and break ground in the mainstream market (most games we hear about). Those people often make great projects but why we have to justify it as 'art' is beyond me. Can't it just be a very accomplished thing in its own right?
The problem with Dirthead's argument is that he's conflating the artist with the people doing the grunt work.

Take a skyscraper, as an example. You can say that many skyscrapers are artistic in nature. Now who determines what the skyscraper should ultimately look like? The future owner, the architect, engineers, etc. Billy the bricklayer laying bricks from 9-5 is doing an important job and if he doesn't do it well it will affect the stability of the building, but in the grand scheme of things he doesn't have any input on the artistic side of the project. Billy is just following orders coming from above. Whether he works 9am-5pm or 9am-1am isn't going to change whether the building is great or mediocre. It might change whether they meet deadlines, which (again) is a management problem, not a Billy-the-bricklayer problem. If you suddenly force your workers to work insane hours, is the building automatically going to be a greater work of art?

Now a building is not a software project, but as a career software developer, this is pretty much how it works in most software projects too. Most of the important decisions are made by a select few stakeholders at the top and trickles down to the people at the bottom of the pyramid. Bob the developer doesn't have a passion for the children's toys e-commerce app he's working on, but that doesn't mean he won't deliver the best work he can either. He's just coding according to what the clients want and what his manager tells him to. If the app turns out to be shit, it's not his fault. Either the clients wanted shit, or the project was mismanaged, quality control wasn't practiced regularly, etc. Then it again becomes a management problem, not a problem of Bob not having the passion to work 14 hour days. In fact, overworking Bob can lead to situations that actively harm the software project, rather than benefiting it. Even the most passionate people need to take a break.
 
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