Inside the Video Game Industry

workload that virtually everyone making video games experiences. Many of the developers we approached were interested in participating but were too busy, with some apologetically dropping out in the midst of the interview process because of project deadlines, changes in employer, or other workplace issues. Even the interviewees who were able to make it through to the end of the process often required creative and patient scheduling on our part. Game developers, we discovered, are busy regardless of the country or size of the studio in which they work. As we noted earlier, the challenge of the game industry’s many languages and cultures also shaped this book, most notably in the conspicuous absence of interviews with Japanese game developers. Th is was not for lack of trying on our part. Unlike our colleagues Aki Nakamura (Ritsumeikan University) and Bryan Hikari Hartzheim (Reitaku University), for example, whose institutional affi liations and knowledge of the Japanese language and customs have given them considerable access to that country’s game industry, we were unable to move any Japanese developers or their companies through the entire interview process.


1 Introduction

When it comes to its inner workings, the normally voluble video game industry is remarkably silent. Like in a hot dog factory, the fi nished product is everything, while the creative process leading to that product is nothing— or at least nothing to be shared openly with the public. As a result, there is precious little information available to those interested in the business and labor of electronic play. Th is is not to say, however, that there is a paucity of information about getting a job in game development.

On the contrary, seemingly dozens of books are produced each year that purport to proff er insider secrets and commonsense career advice about how to break into the industry, whether one is a programmer, musician, artist, or designer. Almost all of these guides include short interviews, extended pull quotes, or short anecdotes by well-known professionals, and they all directly or indirectly characterize the nature of making games for a living. Such books rarely, however, convey much information about the actual day to-day work of game development, and they say almost nothing at all about how that work is secured, funded, organized, outsourced, iterated, and ultimately either shipped or shut down. Rather, they tend to explain how to gain employment, not what it is like to stay employed.

As a result, potential workers—and people who study games and the creative and corporate environments from which they emerge—have an exceptionally narrow view of Introduction

2 Introduction

this world, with glimpses of its inner workings only when stories such as “EA Spouse” or “Gamergate” hit the mainstream press. The view is obscured further still by the fact that the game industry is supremely competitive. Even the largest companies may have slender profi t margins, making intellectual property protection and its attendant selfimposed silences more doctrine than custom. Readers of this book will almost certainly come to wonder about the necessity of such secrecy.

To us, it remains an open question; not only is the game market rapidly expanding globally—meaning that the zero-sum assumption driving much of this profi t competition is suspect—but there are also signifi cant marketplaces where a hyper-competitive stance is discouraged. Among these more open peers, game developers tend to be quite free in the ways they share corporate resources and information. Th ey compare notes on how quality of life and team structure diff er from company to company, and they exchange ideas and production techniques in ways that would almost certainly trouble their respective public relations and legal department counterparts working in more litigious countries. ….DOWNLOAD



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