The Video Game Industry is Broken: Tales of a Retired Game Dev

Love playing video games? Got lots of original ideas? Think you can make a better video game than what’s out there? Want to get a job as a video game designer, artist or programmer?

That was me about 12 years ago before I started working in the video game industry. A few years later, disillusioned, I left the industry and started working for myself.

Video games are a huge part of our culture and naturally, lots of people want to get involved.

Before you take the plunge, think long and hard before you jump into the glamorous cesspool known as the video game industry. And getting a job isn’t a sure thing, it takes talent, passion, hard work and maybe some connections. Once you land a job, then reality hits you like a ton of bricks.

Video game job listings are full of ridiculous demands because they are always looking for “rockstars.” Pro Tip: rockstars = slaves who are expected to do almost anything to be a part of the industry. The truth is that most video game companies will lie to you and promise you a good healthy work/life balance.

Prepare to have NO life whatsoever outside of your job. Prepare to work 16 hours a day for perpetual crunch because of the incompetence of management and producers. Prepare never to see your loved ones. Get used to sleeping on the floor in your cube. Prepare to see your health decline as you eat bad food and stop exercising. If you don’t like any of that, just realize there’s a line-up of hundreds of naive fools standing right behind you that will gladly replace you and sell their souls to be part of the video game sausage factory.

If all of that isn’t bad enough, then realize you must cheerfully believe and regurgitate all of the politically correct social justice indoctrination that is being propagated at almost every modern video game studio. These hypocrites preach social justice for the world but treat their own employees like scum. Not only does the video game company own your body, they now own your soul.

Don’t take my word for it, take the word of an anonymous ex-game dev who recently posted his experiences on Reddit’s Kotaku In Action forum. I have received permission from the author to reprint what you are about to read.

Of course not every studio is evil and not every job in the video game industry is horrific, but there are enough stories like the following to give any reasonable person cause to pause when considering a career in this highly flawed and competitive industry.

Tales of a retired game dev from KotakuInAction

Conclusion

The video game industry is broken. Look for opportunities elsewhere. Most video game devs are like caged hens that exist in intolerable conditions. But even the free range devs at indie studios are plagued by political correctness, egos, and office politics. Talent is secondary as low skilled groupthink obsessed brown nosing sycophants seem to always rise to the top.

The state of the video game industry is a symptom of our progressive culture and an example of the worst excesses of capitalism.

One way for the industry to change is if the people at the top decide to change them. But they are too busy virtue signaling to care. They care more about fair trade coffee and the condition of workers in a far away country than they do their own employees. They care more about the diversity of fake characters in their video games than they do the people that actually work for them.

Gamers need to start demanding that video game companies start treating their employees with dignity and respect. Better working conditions along with higher wages and fewer hours are needed. Video game companies need to start labeling their video games much like the food industry has done with labels that denote fair wages, healthy work/life balance, a politics free environment, etc. All things being equal, I’d rather support a company that treats its workers fairly than one that doesn’t.

However, I think it will take a big technological change to change the industry in the same way Napster and digital distribution changed the corrupt music industry. In many ways, the music industry is much like the video game industry. It’s an industry that takes advantage of the enthusiasm and hard work of many creative people and rewards only a few at the top. Hopefully, at some point in the future, the technology that is used to create video games will become easier to use much like how digital audio workstations have democratized and revolutionized the recording industry.

Until that day comes, the video game industry is broken and like the author of this Reddit post, I’m not even sure if it’s worth saving.

-Woflshead

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