The serious business of making games

Children are the answer, for me. I love showing them games that I used to play that have proven themselves to be classics.

My backlog is so large that I’m still playing CGC-eligble games for the first time! Maybe the rest of you need bigger backlogs?

The studio behind RIME and Deadlight among other things.

Big video expose on three indie game studios with toxic power dynamics, and their publishers:

  • Mountains (Florence)
  • Fullbright (Gone Home)
  • Funomena (Luna, Wattam)

The first two were reported on a couple years ago, I think, but there’s new details and an examination of the involvement of Annapurna, a publisher for both.

The last is new information, I believe, and pretty shocking given how the accused studio leader, Robin Hunicke, presents herself publicly. I listen to her do interviews with indies on the AIAS podcast, and inclusivity and accommodating workplaces are a big talking point for her. Annapurna was also a publisher of some Funomena games.

“Definitely the one that has stuck with me was the one where she was like, ‘so and so is struggling with their sexuality right now, so it makes sense that they’re a little bit distracted.’ I think that happened in a meeting with like six people.”

Yikes. Goes to show what union organizers have said, that commitments to diversity and inclusion don’t matter at all without worker power.

More disappointing news.

Yeah, I was going to link it.

It’s funny how some people seem surprised when your indie dev that makes a wholesome game happens to be in reality an ass. Haven’t people heard of this unknown guy… Walt Disney, that made wholesome cartoons but was an asshole with his employees?

This feels a bit like both employees and management in game development just being less mature than in other industries; not a great combination.

Just from the outside looking in, but it seems that game industry employees expect a certain level of … paternalistic communication and comfort… that would be considered more than most other industries. But since the inmates are running the aslyum (not a huge difference between management and employees in maturity issues) you get the “toxic” workplace, since the worst thing management can be like from the perspective of these employees looking for a paternalistic overarching structure is immature.

I disagree. I’ve worked in and out of the game industry and have seen assholes on both sides. The typical at will employee<->employer relationship means that your employer has a huge amount of power over your life. Whether the employer chooses to abuse that has nothing to do with their level of maturity.

Yup. I spent over a decade working in the print industry, which is a very mature industry in both the age of the industry as a whole, as well as the average age of the workers (somewhere approaching AARP).

It was toxic as hell. The entire industry is simply just a miserable mess that is the worst. All 3 companies I worked at were toxic in some manner.

Going to call bullshit too. Just because, for once, employees are demanding better respect in some areas instead of letting it consume them, as God intended, with all the fallout that implies, doesn’t mean a whole generation has daddy issues.
As people realize there is no golden path for them at the end of history, they’re going to lash out more and more; this is the most sane of them all, but, hey, they can always give up on liberal and democratic values too, if the consensus prefers.

I guess the difference between… I don’t know, the accounting industry, the printing industry or the oil industry (ie. normal jobs) is that people consider them that, jobs. 8 to 5 stuff.
People in the gaming industry enter because is a passion for them, mostly. So you and your workmates and your boss are all together in that, they are all in the company trying to create a game because the passion that everyone has. You are struggling long hours to create an “experience”, to create art, something that people will love, not a accounting excel file.
So in that sense, I could see how the lines between boss and employee are more blurry.

There are countless examples of this type of behavior outside of the game industry, not only from small companies but large ones. Look at reports that have come out from Uber, Tesla, and many others I can’t remember from the top of my head.

A lot of companies of all sizes in all industries are run by egotistical assholes who have built up the political capital to not have consequences for their actions. Trying to make the excuse that it’s caused by passion of the games industry is trying to make an excuse for it.

And, also, don’t all employment ads these days mention how important passionate commitment is for the job, and people should go elsewhere if they don’t have it?

Which of course is utter horseshit, because for most people their job is just that, their job, something to pay the bills. It helps if you like what you do most of the time, but realistically, how many people actually are passionate about their day to day work? Especially if they’re not a principal in the organization and their salary bears no direct relation to the work they do most of the time.

Asking for “passionate” employees to me is just dog whistles for “people who we can exploit into working long hours for no compensation.”

At one company event, a new director of logistics was being introduced and this person started their intorduction by saying “Hi! I’m passionate about logistics processes…” and it took all of my willpower to not yell “Bullshit!”

Heh. And if they WERE passionate about logistics processes…that’s another issue! Seriously, though, I’ll take someone who is competent and reliable even if they find the job hum-drum over someone who is passionate but burns out in a month or whose enthusiasm exceeds their skill.

It’s nice to work on something that maybe does something useful in addition to making rich people richer.

But culty places about the mission are weird and uncomfortable. Had one of those just recently. “(Employer), like, changed my life,” testify the 20something brand drones. Yeah, (employer) like changed my paycheck. Settle down.

Local puff piece on games industry: all upside, no downside:

The good thing about Edmonton is that it gives Minneapolitans a city to look at and scoff, “Lol, who wants to live there?”