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17 August 2011 @ 11:51 pm
Industry Decadence  
I guess this is me venting about work, how it feels overly regimented, under-nurtured, and too corporately psychopathic for its own good. It gets rambly . . . and probably less cohesive.

I've been working in games for five-and-a-half years, at the same company. We started doing crappy mobile stuff (stuff for crappy mobiles, pushing them to nigh-unheard-of limits) and now we do crappy iPhone stuff (for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, which are, in their owns ways, crappy). We always do the best we can, and most of the time it turns out awesome.

When I started, there were only about 12 people. Now there are about 60. We have teams of middle management that no one ever dreamed of, and no one knows what they do all day, except use facebook. I haven't worked on game code in 3 months. I recently became a de facto engine/modules guy, which means I get to make library wrapper code, which works around other people's buggy crap.

The general feeling about my industry (from people within and without) is that it is a privilege to have the opportunity to work in such a wonderful, creative environment. On the other hand, to quote Bernard, and to be more accurate "the pay's not great, but the work is hard."

Background aside, the reason why I decided to post about this is that it seems that society and the business world have gotten into a groove of wrong priorities. An imaginary money market has collapsed, dragging down everyone's imaginary perceptions and confidence with it. Many people appear to getting paid inordinate amounts of money to twiddle their thumbs and look busy.

This is not to say that I can't live on 50K. I totally can, and save for a house at the same time. I would, however, not mind wearing a suit and earning 4 times that, while getting paid for overtime (which is free and expected of me now). But I digress.

Our (first world) society certainly seems to have gotten its priorities confused. If it were a concertedly organisable thing, I daresay games would not be an industry. Games should be crafted by passionate people in their spare time, and if collaboration allows, teams of dedicated artisans. Mass produced everything (even by indies now) just tastes like margarine with no bread. Decadence has led people to believe that they are entitled to be entertained all day long, do very little work, and be paid for the luxury. The games industry is finally eating itself, and oversaturation of games is to blame.

People are being paid too much to do too little, and still expect more for less. It consistently surprises me that stock marketing could ever work. I feel like a fraud, and very ripped off all at the same time. But, I suppose, the cadence must come before the decadence. The wave is cresting now, and it will all crash into foam in the next few years.

Not sure if I made any points (clearly or otherwise). Now is time for sleep.
 
 
 
NSnsanity_au on August 17th, 2011 10:37 pm (UTC)
I remember talking to you about your job a few years ago in the pub near pumpkin patch.

I always found it interesting that you weren't really passionate about games and gaming, and actually just treated it as just a job that paid the bills.

That rolled in with the fact that the Games Industry is downright notorious for poor treatment of its staff and woeful conditions (particularly during "crunch" time leading up to a release). You read stuff like what happened with Team Bondi - http://au.xbox360.ign.com/articles/117/1179020p1.html - and it just shocks you.

Apparently THQ Australia just closed - http://www.smartcompany.com.au/buy-or-sell-a-business/20110811-video-game-industry-hit-as-thq-closes-two-australian-studios.html - which is going to make things even tighter with regards to appropriate remuneration for work done.

Whats really weird is that you're talking about clearly the opposite - that you're not complaining about the conditions and slave like industry. That people are overpaid given their input. I wonder if this is actually true or more like Stockholm Syndrome?

These days in Tech, you can get $50k for walking about fixing people's printers and email problems (Desktop support), to the tune of 15-20 jobs per week.

Maybe sit down and look at the Hays Salary Survey for IT, for 2011 - http://www.hays.com.au/salary/ - yeah you have to sign up, but i'd say that you're being grossly underpaid for your skills. Remember you should always be getting paid for what you know, not what you do. If people underutilise you, that's their problem.
Kazuakikazuaki on August 23rd, 2011 03:59 am (UTC)
Heh, re-reading it does sound a bit backwards. I would be surprised if I found out I'm not being severely underpaid.

Embarrassing working conditions, and everyone being shut down, or bought then shut down, has really helped crystallise my feelings about the industry.

I'll have a look at that salaray survey, thanks for the link :)
the_travthe_trav on August 17th, 2011 11:25 pm (UTC)
Sounds like you're considering a career change.
If that's the case I say go for it, there are better ways to get everything that your job currently gives you.

For the "crafted by passionate people in their spare time" angle check out news sites:
www.tigsource.com
www.lostgarden.com

and case studies:
www.minecraft.net
www.bay12games.com

For salaries and other career advice Geoff's links are pretty good, if you want to get into the java/enterprise consulting style world I'd be happy to help circulate your resume
the_travthe_trav on August 18th, 2011 04:15 am (UTC)
On further reflection, you might want to read up a bit on Stallman, the GNU guy and the open source movement. It's not something that has much penetration into the games industry, but in business programming it's pretty massive and a big departure from conventional corp greed thinking
Kazuakikazuaki on August 23rd, 2011 04:06 am (UTC)
Yeah, I have to actually update my resume, and start looking at what kind of jobs are going now . . . before deciding that I definitely want out :P I have been thinking about it for 2 or 3 years now . . .

Thanks for the offer, I'd certainly love a bit of networking help when I get my shit together :)
ojtinkerbellojtinkerbell on August 18th, 2011 12:20 am (UTC)
I often ponder the inequities of our capitalist pig dog society, and would totally rise up and start a revolution to tear down the highly paid and frequently useless managers who got into their positions....god knows how. Except our society has slipped into a disconnected apathy about reality, partially caused by distractions such as our conversely sanitised and sensationalised news programs and the alternative reality the gaming industry creates for us to disappear into.

I decided to change my career with the view to become my own boss, in part because I despised having managers around me suffering from the irritating head-up-arse syndrome that, while not contagious without a promotion, has symptoms including time-wasting and soul-destroying that only affect people around them.
Kazuaki: Your voice...kazuaki on August 23rd, 2011 04:08 am (UTC)
This.

I just don't know how much harder I have to realise it before I do something about it.
Leighbaconsoap on August 18th, 2011 06:43 am (UTC)
its all gonna crash! hopefully late next year.