Working in a video game company might seem like the perfect job, but the Bloomberg News reporter Jason schreier says the reality is far from ideal.
“It’s not really an industry that treats people well,” Schreier says in episode 466 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy Podcast. “It is not a stable or well paid industry. It is also an industry that has tons and tons of supply and little demand. So it’s not the most ideal place to work. “
For his new book Press Reset: Ruin and Recovery in the Video Game IndustrySchreier spoke to countless game developers who have seen their lives turned upside down by frequent layoffs in the industry. “The gaming industry sells the illusion of careers,” he says. “It sells the illusion that you will be in the same company for 10 years, 15 years, but in practice it never happens. It’s a world where people bounce between jobs all the time. “
Poor working conditions are particularly striking when you consider that the video game industry is a massively profitable global heavyweight. “It’s an industry that is worth $ 180 billionSays Schreier, “So you’d think they’d be able to keep the workers employed, but they’ve got to see those revenue numbers go up, please those shareholders.” “
The situation may seem grim, but Schreier is optimistic that unionization and remote working could greatly improve the lives of game developers. “[Press Reset] is based on the premise that things can – and will, and must – change, ”he says. “I didn’t just want this to be a book that examines and highlights all of these problems without at least offering some solutions.”
Listen to the full interview with Jason Schreier in Episode 466 of Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy (above). And check out some highlights from the discussion below.
Jason Schreier on remote work:
“One of the problems with volatility is that you can find yourself stuck in a city where there are no other jobs in the game, because like I said before, the gaming industry is so decentralized. It’s not like there is one area where you get all of your jobs. So if you end up losing your job and get stuck in Boston or something, you’re going to have to move 3,000 miles, potentially, to get your next gaming job. So it’s unrealistic for a lot of people. They have to uproot their lives and take their kids out of school and all that just won’t happen. So that’s one of the reasons people get burned out. And if they could just work remotely, if they could find a job anywhere without having to relocate, that could change things and make the games industry a lot more accommodating for a lot of people.
Jason Schreier on the 1980s:
“I haven’t spoken to people who have worked in every company in gaming history, so I’m not sure which one has had worse than others. I’ve certainly heard all kinds of horror stories about working conditions throughout the video game industry, since it really started in the 1980s. Back then, it was basically people in fellowship houses developing games – a dozen guys all eating pizza and drinking diet sodas and staying up all night playing games. And while it might have been fun for some people, it’s the kind of thing you can only really do in your 20s. The games industry has professionalized in some ways since then, but overall it still has a lot of challenges to manage. “
Jason Schreier on 38 studios:
“Rhode Island was sort of struggling at the time – they were still feeling the effects of the 2008 recession. [The governor] had this vision of a “Silicon Valley of the East,” based in Providence, Rhode Island. He thought 38 studios would be the core, and not only would that bring hundreds of jobs to Rhode Island, and bring all those people spending money at nearby bars, restaurants and cafes, but he believed others game developers or technology companies. Would follow. … I am not a politician, so I would have a hard time saying if [$75 million] is an appropriate amount of money to spend in a case like this, but the logic made sense, and you can see why a desperate governor, who made all these promises to his state to bring back jobs, why he would want pull off a crazy move like this.
Jason Schreier on release dates:
“If I were making word processing software, I would know ‘OK, I need this to create documents, and I need this to print words on the screen if you type them’, and I would know, “OK, to work that way.” But with a game, you not only need it to run and not get buggy, but also to be fun to play. And this nebulous concept of “fun” adds so many keys to the whole situation, because how do you know this game is going to be fun? How do you know exactly how long it will take before making this game fun? How do I know if it will be four weeks before I make fun or eight weeks? It is simply not possible. And so, all game planning is just, in essence, based on educated guesses. “