A significant portion of games students I have worked with over the last few years, join a games degree with a very blinkered view of the games industry, viewing it as some white, fluffy cloud, utopia. Don’t get me wrong, working in the games industry is great, but as with anything in life, it’s never that straight forward. So cue the wives of Rockstar San Diego employees, who have recently posted a lengthy article on Gamasutra, here outlining their grievances against Rockstart and how their partners are being treated. Some of the accusations are very serious, with claims of employees being diagnosed with depression symptoms and one eomployee even acknowledged to have suicidal tendencies.
To me these accusations are not surprising, and serve to highlight a potential downside to of working in the games industry. These accusations cannot be thrown at every games company, far from it, but for those looking to move into the industry, its worth being aware of.
I’ve experienced long periods of crunch time working in the defence industry, which never seemed to stop, there was a always some new, unexpected deadline. Combine that with, dare I say it, exploitation of employees enthusiasm for the job, in the end, I moved out of the defence industry to preserve my sanity. As much as I loved my job, 14 hr days, 6 day weeks and little recognition, were just too much.
While I cant say if everything in the Gamasutra article is true, judging by the huge number of responses, some by employees of Rockstar, it seems as if Rockstar at least have a case to answer.
IGDA have come out with a very strong response:
“IGDA finds the practice of undisclosed and constant overtime to be deceptive, exploitative, and ultimately harmful not only to developers but to their final product and the industry as a whole.”
You may want to check out http://yourworkplace.biz/ This is a link posted by Emmeline Dobson as a response to the original article. The site allows employees of games companies to rate their companies.
The original Gamasutra article is worth a read through, especially if you are thinking about a job in the games industry. It should not put you off pursuing your dream, just open your eyes a little and make you aware of the bigger picture.