Game Developers' Quality of Life: Why Should Gamers Care?

In this feature, we ask if quality of life at development studios should affect how gamers think about the industry.

by

Blowing the Whistle on Working Conditions

A video game is composed of millions of tiny achievements made by hundreds of people. When combined, their work results in innovative, genre-defining artistic statements like World of Warcraft, Half-Life, Super Mario 64, or Tetris. The fruits of their collective labour are savoured around the world by gamers, a once-exclusive tag that is now, thanks to the burgeoning market of Web-based casual games, embraced by more people than ever before.

Despite the impact that generations of video game developers have had on the medium of interactive entertainment, though, it's easy to forget those millions of tiny achievements when you're embedded deep within virtual worlds like Azeroth, the Black Mesa Research Facility, the Mushroom Kingdom, or a 10-block-wide screen of endlessly descending shapes. Logically, our brains know that none of these worlds can exist without the imagination, artistry, and programming skills of human beings. Yet for many gamers, those who work in the gaming industry are, essentially, faceless purveyors of joy. There are a handful of household names like Shigeru Miyamoto, John Romero, Hideo Kojima, and Will Wright; as for the rest of the names listed in the closing credits and the instruction manual…well, who?

This apparent cognitive failure of gamers to acknowledge the contribution of game developers to our overall well-being is only brought to the fore on rare occasions, when the people behind our gaming pleasure see no option but to go public with their sentiment of systemic discontent. The enduring example of the entire discussion surrounding game developers' quality of life arose in November 2004, when an anonymous blog post by the partner of an EA Games developer working on The Lord of the Rings, The Battle for Middle-earth detailed a studio-wide, 85-hour work week.

"The stress is taking its toll," the blogger wrote. "After a certain number of hours spent working, the eyes start to lose focus; after a certain number of weeks with only one day off, fatigue starts to accrue and accumulate exponentially. There is a reason why there are two days in a weekend--bad things happen to one's physical, emotional, and mental health if these days are cut short. The team is rapidly beginning to introduce as many flaws as they are removing."

The "EA Spouse" saga centered around the overtime working conditions on EA's The Lord of the Rings, The Battle for Middle-earth.

The blog post gained widespread media attention and, later, saw EA settle over US$30 million in overtime to staff at its California studio following three class-action lawsuits. The "EA Spouse" saga, led by blogger Erin Hoffman, shone a spotlight into the dark corners of game development. For the first time, it seemed, gamers were made aware that making video games for a living isn't necessarily as fun as it sounds.

A similar incident in early 2010, ahead of the release of Red Dead Redemption, saw the "Determined Devoted Wives of Rockstar San Diego employees" publish a scathing attack against that studio's management on industry website Gamasutra and threaten legal action if their partners' working conditions were not improved. It is unclear whether that situation was resolved, although it appears that no lawsuits were filed against Rockstar Games. More recently, Team Bondi, the Sydney-based developer of the Rockstar Games-published L.A. Noire, was revealed to have dictated what former employees referred to as an "ominous crunch" (the intensive period before a deadline) that lasted for years, and a revolving-door staff policy that saw over a hundred employees leaving throughout the game's seven-year development.

Those three games--Battle for Middle-earth, Red Dead Redemption, and L.A. Noire--achieved Metacritic ratings of 82, 95, and 89, respectively. Collectively, they were enjoyed by an audience of millions across the PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 platforms. In the grand scheme of things, it's all too easy to sweep a few months--or, in the case of L.A. Noire, years--of long working hours under the rug and bask in the shining glory of the final products. But to do so would be a mistake, argues Kenneth Yeast, who was the engineering development director at Electronic Arts during the Battle for Middle-earth project.

The development team--which consisted of around 100 full-time staff, including management--worked "60-something days straight" until the game shipped in November 2004, says Yeast. Staff were required to be in the office by 9.30 a.m. and would go home typically around 9 p.m.--sometimes, as late as 11 p.m.

"It was insane," he remembers. "[Management] refused to cut any feature, or adjust anything to change the scope of the delivery, in order to fit the deadline. It was rough. I was warned when I was hired that they were expecting to go into crunch. It has its effects. I know I'm getting older, but I felt my eyesight got worse, even during that period of time. It was stressful."

Yeast--who is currently director of engineering at California-based mobile game developer Bad Juju Games--compares game development to a sausage factory.

"You may like to eat sausages," he says, "but you don’t want to see how they're made."

Jason Della Rocca was the executive director of the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) between 2000 and 2009. The "EA Spouse" incident occurred right in the middle of his tenure. Before that event, he says, the industry had a "blind faith," where the prevailing attitude seemed to be, "We have no clue what we're doing, just work harder! If I code more, things will get worked out!" "It came from the lack of maturity of the industry, of the people, of the art form," says Della Rocca. Since then, "things have gotten better on average." The IGDA moved to establish a quality-of-life "special interest group" and began discussions with game development studios regarding employees' working conditions, "but you still end up with these extreme scenarios like on L.A. Noire," he says.

L.A. Noire developer Team Bondi came under fire earlier this year for the negative working conditions of its employees.

Yet smoke and mirrors still dominate a necessarily secretive industry. As tens of millions of dollars are being poured into each AAA title, and as competition for gamers' wallets grows fiercer than ever, studios and publishers have few reasons to embrace transparency. It's a point not lost on Chuck Hoover, chairman of the IGDA's production special interest group and studio production director at Schell Games in Pittsburgh.

"How can we expect a gamer to know which studio to support, and which studio is churning through their staff with 80-hour weeks?" he asks. "What I would love to see is a world where the game industry sheds light on quality of life, so we can educate gamers on these issues. Something like an IGDA 'good studio' seal of approval based on overtime hours, work-life balance, and employee treatment; that's where we need to start."

Why Should Gamers Care?

Seattle-based Tom Buscaglia--the self-proclaimed "game attorney"--has been representing video game developers in all aspects of business and legal matters since 1991. He's also a hardcore gamer. His approach to this topic is logical: "Think of how fewer crappier games you'd buy," he says, if game developers' quality of life was a non-issue. "Think of how fewer games you'd buy and say, 'Oh God, that was a mistake'. I do it," he admits. "I raise my hand. I bought Duke [Nukem Forever]. It was a nostalgia buy! But it was a really sucky game. I wanted Homefront to be a great game, but I bought it and it was terrible. If you look at the background of what was going on at Kaos Studio while the game was being made, people were being treated poorly."

For Buscaglia, the things that cause game studio management to treat employees poorly are "the same sort of mindset that causes a studio to release a game that's not ready to be released. Or that gets a studio to put people into a 'death march' [a long-term crunch to meet a deadline] because they don't care if the game sells--but if it's released in this quarter, they get to book all those sales before the end of the year, so their financials look good, and they don't fail to meet projections that were made by marketing analysts. There's a whole bunch of elements influencing how games are made and when they're released that really don't have anything to do with games," he says. "They have to do with stock prices and publicly traded companies; to do with cooking the books and selling bullshit to suckers."

Next Level Games, developer of Captain America: Super Soldier, believes that "excellent games are made by fostering a healthy, positive, and creative environment."

Buscaglia's assertions strike a chord, as gamers are among the biggest losers in such situations. If the game sucks, those who bought it feel ripped off. So, too, do the developers, who know that the product isn't as good as it could have been had they been allowed a little more time.

"And their families are disappointed," Buscaglia continues, "because 'Daddy was working 80 hours a week. He's cross and irritable, and I haven't seen him in four months because he's been working on a game that was released early and plays badly.' Tell me, who wins in that one?"

The unfortunate reality of discussions surrounding game developers' quality of life is that we tend to hear only about the worst cases. Spouses grow frustrated, or journalists grow curious, and a story becomes part of the public discourse. It's rare that a studio makes the headlines for providing a supportive work environment where both talent and regular working hours are valued and celebrated. Such studios do exist, though. In the UK, Brighton-based Relentless Software proudly proclaims to have "mastered over 100 SKUs [products] and have never crunched, never worked late, and never worked a weekend," according to its website.

Last month, the managing director of Ninja Kiwi, a 15-person Flash and iOS development studio based in Auckland, New Zealand, was moved to comment on a Games.on.net report alleging 120-hour work weeks at Gameloft Auckland.

"One of the most important things to us when we set the company up was ensuring we pretty much stick to a 8.30am-5pm work time," wrote Chris Harris. "Half our team are parents, including myself. Who wants to miss dinner/bedtime with their kids? Life is only so long, and I believe you only get one turn on the merry-go-round." Harris told GameSpot that he and his cofounding brother, Stephen, "never even considered that we were 'taking a stand, righting the wrongs of the industry.' We were just doing what we thought was normal," he says. "Turns out it wasn't."

Harris proudly states that Ninja Kiwi has a monthly research and development budget of NZ$100 per person, which allows staff to be reimbursed for games that they buy--as long as they're prepared to report back on the experience to their colleagues. "I think for people to be really creative, and really useful, as employees, they need to mix in the world. [They need to] have relationships with their friends and family, watch movies, play games. God; so many developers don't even play games," he sighs. "'Too busy...'"

Similarly, the website of Vancouver-based Next Level Games states the studio's philosophy, that "excellent games are made by fostering a healthy, positive, and creative environment. We believe that work is only one component of your life, and that creative minds work more effectively when they're rested." By extension, does Next Level--which is responsible for titles such as Super Mario Strikers and Captain America: Super Soldier--believe that happy developers make better games?

"Absolutely," says Sean Murch, the head of business development. "We see 'happy,' in a work context, as 'being engaged.' That is really the key. Part of that engagement is about providing a fair, safe, and equitable workplace, of course; but all these are in service of the engagement. Think of it as removing the barriers to natural engagement."

Murch stops short of agreeing with the suggestion that gamers should boycott games made by studios that offer unsatisfactory working conditions, though. "There are hundreds of thousands of household products that we buy every day that are manufactured under truly inhumane working conditions," he says. "It's not reasonable to expect that the same consumer should care if a North American or European game developer is working too much overtime and not seeing their middle-class family as often as they would like to. I'm not saying that it's right, but I just don't see that sort of purchasing discretion as being a realistic goal for your average human being today."

Thatgamecompany's Kellee Santiago believes gamers should care about working conditions at development studios.

Still, Murch believes that it is a responsibility of all game development studios to "engage their employees effectively, and to provide an example of how things can be done differently. I believe we have done that consistently at Next Level Games. We consider it part of our corporate responsibility to share our learning and achievements in this area, so that people can really understand and know there is a better way to coach and manage for performance: by treating people with respect and dignity, and constantly challenging and engaging them in their work."

Murch's sentiment is echoed by Kellee Santiago, cofounder of Thatgamecompany, a 12-strong development team based in Los Angeles, which was responsible for the 2006 hit Flow.

"I think gamers should care [about this issue] as much as anyone who supports the arts and/or entertainment should care," she says. "The act of creating anything is, in and of itself, a strenuous process. The better the quality of life developers can have during that process, the better the games are that come out from that process. We have many good games to play today, but what I've learned as a gamer since I've come over to the development side is that these games could be even better. I see the sacrifices in video game experiences that are made because the development team simply couldn't support through their crunching-six-days-a-week-12-hours-a-day-for-9-months-straight development schedule. I see extremely talented game developers who have to quit game development because of burnout. If we, as gamers, support games with more sustainable development processes, we ensure many more better video games in the years to come."

Or, to put it another way, in the blunt words of game attorney Tom Buscaglia: "If gamers think there's a disconnect between the quality of life of the people who make games and the quality of the games they make, they're sadly mistaken."

Discussion

231 comments
vannacut
vannacut

i couldnt get the proportion that makes the games and working conditions better here. longer development time ~ better game ~happier employees? 7 years of development time~ L.A. Noire ~ a class action? yea yea just kidding, one person mentions a hacker not being able to guess the outcome of his action... a hacker? really? (i think i hacked in this now, uhm now what? let me share this with others so they can have pizzas too yayyy!)

punisher41542o
punisher41542o

i all for delays in games. As long as a quality game is released i dont care at all if i have to wait. Please delay the game if u need to work people to the bone just to get it out. It does not matter when a game is released. Gamers will buy good games. No need to destroy the workers.

Ultramarinus
Ultramarinus

Gamespot should make an article about those big publishers who buy studios and close them down after a year as well, now that's what I call being both an enemy of developers and gamers.

diggyman
diggyman

As a Martian, I've discovered that humans are not designed to be satisfied. the concept of "fair" is a fluctuating variable. Therefore, if developers get what they want they will eventually want more. It is my hope, however, that they DO get something, since there is an obvious connection between the quality of games and the quality of a developers working environment. Bleep Bloop Bloop!

rogue81
rogue81

@hogstomp 20 hours of overtime is not something you just throw away. Working for free is tantamount to indentured servitude. Your statement "I work about 60 hours per week and get paid the same if I work 40 or 80.... Life sucks people.... It is how it is" is complete bull. Being made to work that many hours for free is criminal, and you wouldn't be so nonchalant about it if you were. I just got my paycheck for last week. It shows I worked 83 hours over six days. That pretty much left me with enough personal time everyday to sleep, shower and do it over again. I am exhausted, and I'm not doing such a great job of understanding things right now. So if you don't mind, you're going to have to clarify some part of your story. You're either working multiple jobs, a slave, or completely full of it.

LtReviews
LtReviews

@hogstomp You obviously don't work 60 hours, because if you did, you would understand paid overtime is a legal right, and it is illegal to avoid paying employees overtime by skewing how many hours they really worked.

coop36
coop36

I think that we the consumers are partially to blame. We expect everything yesterday and sometimes dont take into account the actual grinding amount of work that goes into most games today. Yeah I know they are payed well and arent forced to do it. But that doesnt mean they should be viewed as expendable worker ants with no lives or outside hobbies or families etc. As with most things in the world it comes down to money. They want to squeeze every drop of work they can out of each individual instead of hiring more people or extending the deadline. How many crummy games would have been better with an extended deadline?

HogStomp
HogStomp

@LTReviews Yeah I work 60+ hours a week all the time and so do a lot of other people I know. You gotta do what you gotta do to take care of the family. At least these guys had a chance.

LtReviews
LtReviews

@HogStomp Really? Ask the people at Team Bundi. Australia doesn't have any big developers. The programmers at Bundi new this was their only shot, and quitting would put their careers in danger. The management also knew this, and took advantage of it. And no, you do not work 60 hours a week and get paid the same. If you have to lie to back up your arguement, then you should drop your point. Also, in the Bundi incident, people who worked on the game were left out of the credits, even though they did commendable work. You think plagiarism is "ok"?

HogStomp
HogStomp

I work about 60 hours per week and get paid the same if I work 40 or 80.... Life sucks people.... It is how it is.

HogStomp
HogStomp

@LTReviews These people know what they signed up for and they can quit anytime.

Bear_in_Action
Bear_in_Action

@supertom221 Hahahaha, I won't even go there, but go ahead and let imagination fly :P

supertom221
supertom221

@Bear_in_Action When you say "Controllers serve DIFFERENT purposes to me", could you please ELABORATE on that...? :P lol jk. And to me as well. Good talking. And yeah we totally did :D

Bear_in_Action
Bear_in_Action

@supertom221 Yeah, controllers and Kinect serve different purposes to me. I still game using controller, I think it's embarrassing when developers try too hard to force Kinect into the core gaming scene yet fail. I cringed when seeing that Kinect would be used in the next Fable. Anyway, it's been a pleasure chatting with you. :) We completely hijacked the comment section, lol.

supertom221
supertom221

@Bear_in_Action Frankly I didn't mean to call you lame. I didn't even realize you were a girl. Not that it matters, but you seem to have a good grasp of the differences between the Eyetoy and Kinect. Still, I prefer the good ol' Controller and Keyboard. I find Gaming a place for relaxation and fun, not stretching myself out like i'm in a gym.

Bear_in_Action
Bear_in_Action

@supertom221 Lol. Well, why not, I don't see it as a "gaming" tool, though, I see it as a separate entertainment tool. I personally enjoy dancing very much, and I guess that alone explains why I already love Kinect. I hate clubbing, I find seeing girls who dress like s***s and dealing with boys with retarded one-liners or whistle blowing very distressing. But if I didn't have an incentive, I wouldn't just start dancing around in the house... that's plain weird. I tried Just Dance on Wii, but it just wasn't challenging enough for me, since it only detects the controller anyway. Technology-wise, it's NOT Eyetoy; Eyetoy is 2D (creates outline of an image.), Kinect is 3D (creates skeleton of your body). While some people don't think it's that big of a difference, it actually is. When full 360 degree of area is workable, it creates something different from when you only have 180 degree to work with; Just think about how different 2D and 3D experiences have been, it's the same idea. Take Dance Central for example, Kinect can tell if your limbs are in the right places, whereas Eyetoy won't be able to do the same. The accuracy is what makes dancing games challenging. While developers haven't thought of a great way to incorporate Kinect into core video gaming, I don't mind; I will stick to my good ol' controller for those. On a major plus side, Kinect Sports is the only thing that seems to get my boyfriend's a** off the chair. Ok, go ahead and call me lame, I can take it :P

supertom221
supertom221

@Bear_in_Action "Wii U seems so gimmick-y, and that's saying a lot coming from a person who approves of Kinect. (Hey, no judging )" "and that's saying a lot coming from a person who approves of Kinect. (Hey, no judging )" "a person who approves of Kinect. (Hey, no judging )" "approves of Kinect. " "KINECT." .... This dicussion is OVER. No, really, why??

Bear_in_Action
Bear_in_Action

@supertom221 Wii U seems so gimmick-y, and that's saying a lot coming from a person who approves of Kinect. (Hey, no judging :P)

supertom221
supertom221

@Bear_in_Action Yup. Human nature. We just suck that way. I bet alot of those big Corporations, when started small, just wanted to entertain people, but money kept stocking and flowing, they were poisoned by it. And I totally agree. Wii U??! SO their "Innovation" is making a tablet screen (iPad with buttons anyone?), and then connecting it to a T.V to have the same thing on TWO screens? Not only is that stupid, but it existed for as long as the PSP existed, Since it does the same. and HD. 6 years after everyone got it. AS always, Nintendo is late for the party, and makes up an excuse for Innovation to make up for it.

Bear_in_Action
Bear_in_Action

@supertom221 I've always wondered why it is that people usually start off good and humble, but as the popularity and fame grow, so does their ego. It is as if no one ever learns the valuable lesson of society backlash from other companies' experiences. I guess us humans are just pathetic that way, greediness will eventually take over when you become a somebody. And seriously, wtf is Wii U?! I swear I tried to understand it, but up until now I still don't see ANY point of it.

The-Longshot
The-Longshot

Well that's plane insane! The workers here to believe it or not are somewhat to blame for not unionizing. What the hell were they thinking? Nobody bothered to stand up for those 100+ people that were booted out the door! and for what, probably failing to be there on time or stay conscious after an 82 hour work week! If they would have banded together and collectively told Rockstar to improve conditions, pi** off, or hire more people, they would have, as much of a revolving door as it might have been, they wouldn't have been willing to lose that large of a dev team. This is an interesting article and poses many questions. The game company's, ROCKSTAR and EA should not be let off the hook, that's just straight bs, even as much as I love Red Dead, no one in there right mind could stand for that type of treatment towards other human beings, its sicking. People should also take time out to note, how many people did it take to make epics long ago like The legend of Zelda? now compare that with the outsourced insanity of EA and the hundred's and sometimes thousands of different people they have making games, does it really make them that much better? or just dilute the final project the original creative vision the person may have had for the game? new gen graphics or not, ill take the simpler game that is more true to the original creators idea, thoughts and design. Thank you, and goodnight.

supertom221
supertom221

@Bear_in_Action LOL Yeah, that we did :P Thing is, MS is a Sell-out and SONY are proud f****s. MS would recruit a convict if it would prove useful and with profit. But Sony? No, for the same reason they chase them down-- they're too damn proud. Even after the CEO died during the outbreak, the new CEO, being the "new guy" could've really fixed the image of Sony, but instead did nothing to change it. And then there's Nintendo- living in their own bubble of illusion, thinking that releasing mediciore a console and then bombarding it with a game collection of nothing but mediciore games and remakes to remakes to remakes of their old classics. oh, and Party games. With the old classics -- Can hold on forever. Well it can't.

Bear_in_Action
Bear_in_Action

@supertom221 Thank you, I do try hard, lol. I haven't bought music in a long time, I also don't download them because seriously, the music we hear now generally hurts my brain that I don't even bother. As for Geohot, he's also one of the greatest hackers I've read about, young and skilled and ambitious. It's unfortunate how Sony handled it. It is always the aftermath that is troublesome, though. Geohot held the root key to PS3 and gave it to the world, but who knows what people with worse intentions would do with it? Geohot wasn't directly responsible for the aftermath, but being as high profile as he is, he was the easiest target. The irony is that punishing him pissed off even more pirates/hackers, and they really gave Sony a hard time. But I did think that stealing customers' credit cards info was way over the line. I think even Geohot didn't see it coming, as he didn't seem at all pleased with their doing. This is one thing I think MS does better than Sony. While MS bans people who pirate games, if they can find the person behind it, they "usually" make peace or recruit them. This is how they became the biggest software company in the world: they know talented programmers when they see them. And if they can, they will use these people to their advantage instead of making them enemies. Everybody knows hackers are the worst enemies one company can have, I guess Sony just had to learn it the hard way. We really did go way off topic, didn't we? :P

gatsbythepig
gatsbythepig

@c_rake Ah, I see. Thanks for the explanation. It is hypocritical that we cannot use the same words we read. I feel that way because I am an adult and capable of expressing myself with both acceptable vernacular and expletives to make my point, just like the author of the article. However, I understand that not all of us are adults here. Knowing that, we shouldn't see swearing from the author or GSs users. . Oh, well, this is not an argument that is possible for me to win so I wil put that to rest. Thanks for altering my posts instead of sending me a violation. I really do appreciate that.

supertom221
supertom221

@Bear_in_Action Hmm, didn't have this good a discussion in a while. You do write your points well. Yes, there is that horrible loop of Copyright goosechase that never ends, fueled by two things: Money, and Pride. probably our biggest weaknesess. And let's be honest, do you really want to pay a dollar for every single 3 min track that uses some sound loops, pieced by vocals? No one pays for songs today, and both corporations and artists know that. And I agree with the last paragraph, also why SONY is so hated from the incident with the PS3. It isn't hated because it want to stop Piracy, it's legitimate. It's hated because of the way they do it and their real goals. All they want is complete and total control over the system YOU bought with YOUR money. The original modding of the console was actually meant to bring back a feature that was originally on the PS3-- Linux. Geohot's CFW didn't even allow Piracy, yet they sue him. Then there was Graf_chocolo, who continued his work on OtherOS+, guess what happened to him? He got his frickin' home raided- Twice- and got sued for 250,000$ . And then people wonder why I hate monopolies. Making frickin' propaganda videos and hiring someone like Kevin Butler to make 'em look awesome when they are just scum who want to rule you.

Bear_in_Action
Bear_in_Action

@supertom221 Lol, I know you aren't the leader. It's also not my intention to attempt to change anyone or anything on this board. I'm more like... chatting, I guess. I know that by the end of the day, people would leave the forums with the same values and opinions they had when they came in. But perhaps with a more open mind if the discussions went without names being thrown around. In my opinion, the whole thing is a chain reaction: Copyrights being there to protect all intellectuals - Corporations abuse Copyrights - Skillful people want to punish corporations so they offer pirating options - People who are just being cheap abuse pirating options on anything available - Developers (both big ones and small) complain to MS or Sony that their products aren't safe on MS/Sony's products - MS/Sony punish all pirates - and loop. I wasn't using piracy for its real definition, though, I was using it to indicate an action that allows people to access/abuse something that isn't meant to be free, like music, movie or games. Piracy is just a word, you can use any other word to describe the same action :) I actually know many pirates/hackers from the industry (now this is when I use the term for its real definition). These people are skilled programmers who mostly just want to challenge themselves to do better, and I very much admire them. You know the guy who hacked ATM machines? He didn't do it for the money, he did it to show that he was great, and that ATM machines were flawed. And I thought he was one of the most bada** people I'd read about. Sadly, piracy has gone sour when bad pirates use it for illegal profits and benefits. I also believe immature kids without rich parents, who still want everything handed to them for free, give piracy a bad name.

c_rakestraw
c_rakestraw moderator moderator

@gatsbythepig - It's 'cause GameSpot has different rules on censoring than we in the community do. Far as I know, though, their standards are to keep all but the first letter of any censored words obscured -- the same rule we in the community are supposed to abide by. Guess that policy just isn't as strongly enforced on the editorial side or something.

supertom221
supertom221

@Bear_in_Action You make a fine point there. However, I should correct myself. The law was there. it's the whole "steal from the big guys" stuff that really got it going. like you said, no one gave a crap. Now, i'm not supporting ripping off the little man by anyway. But you do realize i'm not the leader of the Pirates right? It is not I who choose who to download and who to buy from. That's more related to that personal individual's ideals and motives. If he doesn't mind ripping off poor artist, that's too bad, but not really under my control. All I ever download is AAA titles which I question their quality. I'd never steal another's work. Also, you seem to have missed the point. I was relying on the part where Copyright is abused by Corporations to hunt down Piracy. What you talk about is a whole other thing. It's stealing others' work. I'm pretty sure that when I downloaded certain games no one claimed they made it. It was made pretty clear in fact who made it. So yeah, Licensing Material and Copyright are under the same law and section, but in a different type of manner. Also, you got the Piracy definition wrong Piracy: Information & Data sharing. Call me an idealistic. call me hypocrite. call me "a guy who just pretties up the word for 'thief' ", even though it's not stealing, but I know i'm right.

Bear_in_Action
Bear_in_Action

@supertom221 Copyright Law exists because it protects intellectual properties and those who live on it, not because corporations pay them to do it; corporations aren't the only ones it protects. Government do care about Copyrights (or at least they pretend they do), or less to no intellectual workers would be interested in sharing their work in that country, which means less trades and opportunities. Piracy and software developing are two different things: Software developing = something created from scratch. Piracy = something created from scratch that allows others to use other software for free, hence ripping the original creator off. Like I said, and it is important: it's not the modding itself that is bad, it is the aftermath. Piracy is ONLY bad when it opens opportunities for illegal trades and sales. While you blame corporations, please realize that there are more freelance/small developers/artists, no one gives a crap about their rights but at least they are protected by law. What you think the corporations are doing to "pirates", is pretty much the same thing these "pirates" are doing to independent developers = ripping others off and justifying the means. (I'm not flaming you, btw, just having a discussion. I'm sorry if I sound a bit heated, it's not directed at you. I have had my work stolen when I was younger. At that time I had no clue about licensing and copyrights so I couldn't do a thing. So I believe Copyright Law is there out of good intentions. :))

supertom221
supertom221

@Bear_in_Action You do realize the goverment has no interest in copyright laws? They run the country, not the bank accounts of Corporations. That Copyright Law exists BECAUSE of the corporations shoving money deep into the governments pockets to make them enforce that rule and make it a law. if anything, Software is the more legal method of modding than hardware, when thinking about it.... I mean, Hardware is an existing material, created from resources at a factory. Software, has NOTHING original or owned in it. it's Binary codes consist of updated versions of old ones. I mean, a company like MS or SONY claiming rights over their network rules, you might as well say they own the internet. of course the methods of making software are different, but they all start at the same core- Information and Data transfer. This is what all the tech-savvy and business people don't understand, it's why gaming and DVD movies became a business, and it's why Piracy is being shunned upon, when in reality, Piracy keeps the basic pillars of this idea called software. Irony, is it not?

Bear_in_Action
Bear_in_Action

@supertom221 Actually, it has little to do with these corporation's true color. I don't know if you are aware of it, but software is protected by the Copyright Law. It is a law by government, not by corporations. Corporations include Copyright Law in TOU because it is generally required when they get their software licensed, not because they are anal and know you don't read it. Here's the legal line drawn: If you tamper with "hardware" (like getting a skin makeover), it is usually legal, because hardly any hardware registered its copyright. If you tamper with "software", which is what playing pirated games requires, you are breaking the Copyright Law, the difference is whether you get caught for it or not. The penalty for tampering with software is small to none, because there are too many people doing it. But many people doing it doesn't mean it's any more legal. I hope this doesn't stir any rage, and feel free to correct me if I'm wrong. I believe it's not that tampering with software itself is bad, it's the aftermath that the action may cause. Corporations like MS needs to ban people who mod their software because modding may open opportunities for illegal trades and sales. They don't know if you are the one doing illegal trades, so they get you all. I do think that big corporations are evil, they love ripping small business off and get away with it, but for this particular matter, I think they are just doing what they have to.

EvilTyger
EvilTyger

It's the same in a lot of businesses. Upper management sees workers as a disposable resource. IBM, Aldi's grocery stores, Verizon, and many others have all had to have shake ups to remind them that 'salary pay' =/= legal overtime exemption and 2x40 hour employees for the price of 1.

gatsbythepig
gatsbythepig

Whay is it that GS can write Bulls*** without the dollar sign but I can't? Mod note: Edited the censoring. Hope you don't mind.

gatsbythepig
gatsbythepig

...and this is essentially the problem: . Buscaglia- "They have to do with stock prices and publicly traded companies; to do with cooking the books and selling bulls*** to suckers."

NintendoMan14
NintendoMan14

It is the same in software development, they treat really bad the software developer and expect to give everything and most of the times without recognition or at least paid overtime

supertom221
supertom221

@Bear_in_Action Wouldn't matter. MS doesn't ban whoever plays online with Pirated games. They ban whoever they can detect their XBOX's to be modded. and yes, that is a certain violation of privacy laws by MS, also done by SONy alot in the last couple of months, revealing their true colours. You could say that's questionably legal, but you don't get a say, of course, because they sign you on a TOU no one reads, and when you find aloophole, they force you to sign a new one. Love Monopolies. :|

soulless4now
soulless4now

One reason I would never go into game development: the crazy hours. An 85 hour work week is just crazy. It's like they don't have a life outside of the game they're working on, which is sad.

Bear_in_Action
Bear_in_Action

@Reuwsaat Wow... you know, what you said peaked my interest, so I did a little research and found this (ok, I admit I'm a little bored at the moment :P) http://www.wharton.universia.net/index.cfm?fa=viewArticle&id=814&language=english A very interesting read. The article stated that the loss from piracy in Brazil reached \$519 million annually (this was written in 2004). Aside from that, high taxes mean high production costs, so developers would have to make do with less employees. The combination of both situations may have kept the foreign developers away, meaning a price drop in video gaming isn't very likely. And the Brazilians who are willing to pay for video gaming have to continue putting up with ridiculously high prices. That is really bad cycle indeed. According to the article, Brazil has the potential of becoming one of the largest game market, but the two main factors are making it quite difficult. The only way around it is games that charge monthly fees.

DEEmoneyDEEtox
DEEmoneyDEEtox

woah prety advanced article you brought psychology into this? nice. im gonna go kill something and lvl up my chick now, laters.

cachinscythe
cachinscythe

@zidan4000 As for EA's older business practices, you're absolutely right. That was unacceptable and I'm glad they did something about it. However, we are not in any real position to be able to say what that money gets used for or not. It MIGHT be going into the CEO's pocket, but it might also be getting to the actual developers. We need hard evidence to prove this is happening. And we also have to consider that often a lot of the profits that we ascribe to CEO bonuses are really just revenue, not profit. In addition, though there's usually enough money for a CEO to buy a new boat, a lot of that money actually doesn't stay with them, but gets poured back into the business to fund new projects. If you think about it, given that only about 20% of games turn a profit, it's actually kind of generous that so many games still get funded. But again, the last few sentences are just speculation on my part.

cachinscythe
cachinscythe

@zidan4000 I understand the concern. We all want to be sure the money is used efficiently and those that deserve to get their share do. But let's be honest with ourselves. When we refuse to buy games at $60, it's more than likely because we think the price is too high for OUR wallets, not because we think the companies are going to use the money incorrectly. And we don't buy games like LA Noire at $60 because we want developers to get the money they deserve; we buy them because we want the games more than we want the $60. So really, it's not about the developers when most of us complain; it's about US. Not to say there aren't people who are genuinely concerned about this. Just look at the comments on here. Many people don't like workers getting treated this way. But I don't think most are going to remember stories like this one when they go to a store and buy Brink for $60 and are disgusted with how "bad" it is. (Whether Brink is actually bad is another debate entirely.) (TBC)

Bear_in_Action
Bear_in_Action

I apologize if it seems like I'm raping this board, lol. But I'd like to be back on the topic and give those who are interested in the field a little heads up (it's not a complaint). This job is NOT about gaming, it is mostly about labors and marketing and mostly repetitive communication. You love playing games? Great, it doesn't mean you will survive in the business. You have a passion for art? Good, it will be worn out eventually. On the other hand, you can do well in the business even if you have not played a game in your life, because whether you have gaming experience or not, you will likely be a puppet, not one who decides what makes a game good. A lot of my friends in the business stopped playing games long ago because "gaming" feels like their job. The bright side is, you may be rich one day if you are good at what you do and stick with it for a long time. The downside is, you are highly likely to have absolutely no life, no wife and won't know what to spend your money on, especially if you start the job at young age (This is not a joke, I have seen enough cases to tell you it isn't a myth.) If you think this is absolutely fine since there are worse lives, you will love the field, or you might end up like my bitter lead designer friend who's in his mid 30s, and whines about his empty life all. the. time. Oh, and budget is a pain in the a**, publishers can be ridiculously difficult to deal with :)

Bear_in_Action
Bear_in_Action

@Reuwsaat I absolutely agree, and sorry to hear that. I think it's a bad cycle; like you said, games cost way too much in the first place, therefore people may resort to piracy, and then developers may feel that the profit isn't enough, so they either don't release it at all, or raise the price to increase profit (I think they are depending on the people who will buy it anyway), and then people resort MORE to piracy. Why on earth is gaming so pricy there, anyway?? Do you know? Is it just because they are all imported? While I'm in the developing business (I'm just an artist, though), I have to agree that so many games are too pricy for their lazy efforts. I can even tell that they are lazy from the demo they offer (hello, Duke Nukem). I mean, if you want to fool your customers, at least make the demo good and slack on the rest, gees.

zeno99
zeno99

Reuwsaat, the math is if your father worked 90 hours a week it would be 6 days of 15 hour shifts or 7 days of 13 hour shifts and that sucks. you may get the big pay check but you have no life. been there and done it . you do know that there is only 24 hours in a day?

Bear_in_Action
Bear_in_Action

@supertom221 Well, these friends aren't the brightest gem, to be honest, they are just fun to be with :) I don't remember what happened specifically, but I believe they only played pirated SP games and bought MP games legitimately. They thought they wouldn't get caught this way, but MS got them all eventually, not sure how they did it. I know what you said about western games not being as popular in China and Taiwan (I grew up in Taiwan), so yes, it is a factor. But now the interest is growing larger and I guess it's a bit too late. It's not that difficult to translate English to Chinese, though :) We have plenty of translated novels in Taiwan, and those are definitely harder to do than games. Edited to add: Just asked my friends because I can't remember how they did it. Well, turns out that they did go on Live even when they pirated games. I guess it didn't take MS too much effort catching them.

supertom221
supertom221

@Bear_in_Action I did not say Piracy was pure holiness. But I think we both agree that greedy companies try to scare people from piracy by making up such ridiculous propagandas like we are the Devil & all that is Sinister about the world. And you know that's true. Yes, getting the games easy also kinda ruins the experience of cherishing it. But think of it that way, it's a good penalty to Pirates who don't work for it. :) Also, they logged ON XBL WHILE having modded 360s? Then hell yeah, they deserved to get banned. seriously, you already don't pay for the games, now you want to have it all?. But for me it's meh, I don't really care much for online, i'm from the old-fashioned gamers. SP ALWAYS comes first. MP is a small bonus at best for me. Also, as for Taiwan and China.... they are really bad countries for Games like American ones. it just isn't as accepted there with the masses.. Their games also consist mostly of MMO's and Ero-games, not very favourited by American/European audience. plus, translating games to Chinese and Taiwanese is FREAKIN' HARD!. They are tough languages, Japanese is like kiddy play next to them. And I doubt there are many proffesional Taiwanese/ Chinese translators in the U.S. Not only that, but the languages work in a completely different manner too. You have to know things about the culture that will help understand certain key elements of the language. So it's not only Piracy, you see.

Bear_in_Action
Bear_in_Action

@Masta_Rix Just to be clear, I wasn't judging you or anything. I understand that piracy plays a crucial part in the world and there's not a good enough reason to force a stop on it. I simply asked for a mutual balance where each side can place themselves in others' shoes.

Bear_in_Action
Bear_in_Action

@supertom221 I know my words won't affect a thing. But this is a comment section, so I will say whatever I have to say. Even though I was urging people not to encourage piracy on an open board, I am not going to tell those who do to shut the hell up. If you didn't read my previous comments, I don't need to explain to you where piracy kicked in, fair? :) Some of you can hold your horses, but a lot of others can't. I have some friends who modded their 360s, but ALL of them ended up finishing none of the games due to easy access and distraction. Even when they did love a game, they were already getting their hands on the next one before they could pull out their wallet. Ironically, as opposed to your knowledge, supertom221, my friends ARE the rich ones from rich families, they were just being cheap. (It often seems that way with my race) My friends were all later banned by Microsoft. They decided it was too much of a trouble, so they started buying games legitimately, and that's when they started cherishing and finishing the games. So when you think we are all high and mighty, try to see that there ARE different sides of the story when it comes to piracy. And you know the extreme case of it? Look at China and Taiwan, incredibly high flow of piracy, leading to where most developers aren't willing to distribute their games there, leading to where many great games aren't translated unless modders do it them themselves. Tell me again that piracy hurts absolutely no one.

Masta_Rix
Masta_Rix

@bear_in_action In that case nvm, heh. I guess I can agree with that last statement. Never had a chance to work with any of the smaller studios, I'll take your word for it.

zeno99
zeno99

well i guess it comes to the question of does the end justify the means?