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Maverick3d
03-24-2005, 03:42 PM
Gamasutra has an article up regarding the unionization of the game industry.
http://www.gamasutra.com/features/20050322/hyman_01.shtml

It's a few days old but I haven't seen it mentioned yet.

Thoughts?

bentllama
03-24-2005, 04:49 PM
dear god, no.

the last thing the industry needs is more whining and primadonnas.

CGmonkey
03-24-2005, 05:06 PM
The game industry would collapse. It doesn't work like that.

Look at Japan, as far as I know, there are no unions over there, and they produce 70% of all quality AAA-games out there.

Reepoman
03-24-2005, 05:23 PM
Gamasutra has an article up regarding the unionization of the game industry.
http://www.gamasutra.com/features/20050322/hyman_01.shtml

It's a few days old but I haven't seen it mentioned yet.

Thoughts?

Well nobody wants it, but EA is 'asking' for it in the way they behave. I think only EA employees should have a union, just because the company is so big.

Lyr
03-24-2005, 05:30 PM
Unions are not saviors. They can end up bieng more opressive and tryanical than the employers they were organized against. At the very least it is one more authority you have to answer to in the workplace. Check out this site: http://www.nrtw.org/ and ask yourself if you want to risk the game industry to face the kinds of issues workers on that site are facing.

Shaderhacker
03-24-2005, 06:50 PM
Well nobody wants it, but EA is 'asking' for it in the way they behave. I think only EA employees should have a union, just because the company is so big.

I agree here, but what's so bad about a Union though? Even for small gaming houses?

-M

NanoGator
03-24-2005, 07:05 PM
dear god, no.

the last thing the industry needs is more whining and primadonnas.

Yeah, slavedriving is much much better.

halo
03-24-2005, 07:22 PM
dear god, no.

the last thing the industry needs is more whining and primadonnas.

is that meant to be ironic?



anyway...personally i think unions are a double edged sword, they fill up the vacuum left by poor or loose employment legislation but in the end the only thing that becomes empowered is the union itself and power all to easily corrupts.

In London in the late 70s unions were black booking studios, if you didnt join they pressured their union shops not to give you work...it didnt matter if you were for the union or even if your employees were for or against the union, they wanted your subs and vote and didnt care how they were going to get it or what they did with it.

In the end a lot of the unions were smashed when it was basically shown they were obstructing progress into changing and developing markets.

There does need to be good employee regulation in the industry...those who say its whining are normally the ones who are willing to do anything in order to keep their place...part of the problem in the first place, the insecure and willingly exploited.

Ask yourself this, why is it often that the games industry is the lowest paid, longest hours and has a lowest talent threshold compared to other creative industries?

caflop
03-24-2005, 08:24 PM
It seems there are too few people on this forum that believe unionization is the way to go. Let me ask you guys? What kind of knowledge do you have of labor history? Were your parents or grandparents union workers?

Labor unions are often very corrupt, racist, and inefficient. Here in NYC, much of the organized-labor in the construction field is mob run. But these problems don't exist because of the idea of unionization. They exist because the corruption is often rooted in the fact that the labor leaders sell their fellow workers out and side with management.

From what I understand (and as stated above), the teamsters in the film industry are corrupt. But they work in a field in which producers won't make a film unless they are guarenteed a HUGE profit, the directors are constantly catered to, and the actors and actressed need to have someone wipe their asses for them. In otherwords, corruption runs very deep in Hollywood. Does that make teamster corruption okay? Of course not. But if anything, they are at the bottom of the barrel.

Unions have given a voice to workers and have allowed them to negotiate a fair wage and working conditions. The gaming industry (and the CG and design industry in general) would benifit from this.

bentllama
03-24-2005, 08:49 PM
is that meant to be ironic?

in my honest personal opinion, unions would just add more complaint and pretention to an industy in which it is already abundant...overflowing even...

we already have employers and employees dishing out both whine and pomp, why add a third party for an even greater headache?

whine x3
pomp x3
_______

no thanks

Lunatique
03-25-2005, 07:57 AM
in my honest personal opinion, unions would just add more complaint and pretention to an industy in which it is already abundant...overflowing even...

we already have employers and employees dishing out both whine and pomp, why add a third party for an even greater headache?

whine x3
pomp x3
_______

no thanks

Well, you have to remember, not everyone is as fortunate as you are, working for a company that treats you well. Also, not everyone has the guts to stand up to employee abuse--most just take it in order to get that paycheck and stay employed in the game industry--particularly true of fresh blood that dreamed of working in games since they were kids. Some companies are more than happy to exploit fresh blood like that.

halo
03-25-2005, 12:53 PM
in my honest personal opinion, unions would just add more complaint and pretention to an industy in which it is already abundant...overflowing even...

we already have employers and employees dishing out both whine and pomp, why add a third party for an even greater headache?

whine x3
pomp x3
_______

no thanks

right, so now we have the flippant remark stage over and we're discussing the issue...:)

you say there's a lot of moaning, well, people will moan yes, but if a lot of people are moaning about the same thing then surely theres a slim possibility that their complaint is legitimate. Also, I'll bet you that despite the level of complaint that you see, hear or read the amount the employer receives directly is tiny. ...people tend to bitch to their collegues, friends and associates a lot more than they will directly to their employer, sometimes because their complaint isn't entirely well founded and other times because they are scared of losing their job. Unions can give a barrier of representation of employee gripes without having to point the finger at who made the complaint.

erik2003
03-25-2005, 01:01 PM
For slave driving you need 2 things:

#1 a slave driver
#2 a slave being driven

I argue that in both these cases you are there yourself making the choice, either working for a slave driver or allowing yourself to be driven as a slave : both are in fact choices.

Stop acting like a victim. If you are not happy with your situation: act! You have the freedom of choice.

E.

NanoGator
03-25-2005, 03:34 PM
For slave driving you need 2 things:

#1 a slave driver
#2 a slave being driven

I argue that in both these cases you are there yourself making the choice, either working for a slave driver or allowing yourself to be driven as a slave : both are in fact choices.

Stop acting like a victim. If you are not happy with your situation: act! You have the freedom of choice.

E.

You should send a mass-email over to EA. ;)

clockwerkz
03-25-2005, 04:06 PM
In my work, we have union representation. I can tell you from experience that a union is basically a political entity with it's own motives. Don't automatically assume that by having one, they'll go out and solve all one's work problems. They have their own agenda.

Also, the statement that complaining to a union may provide anonymity(sp?) may not be correct. There is always a record on who files a greivance. And, from my experience, our bosses will look out to see who the problem childs are. Fortunately for us, I work as a civil servant, so we can't be canned very easily. Dunno how this'll apply to the corporate world, but I'm very interested to see how this all develops, since I'm hoping to one day switch over.

cW

Shaderhacker
03-25-2005, 04:23 PM
Ask yourself this, why is it often that the games industry is the lowest paid, longest hours and has a lowest talent threshold compared to other creative industries?

Interesting that you put it this way. There is a thread over in General about film industry vs. gaming industry work environments.

I tend to agree, I think as a whole film industry employees get paid more and work less.

-M

Shaderhacker
03-25-2005, 04:30 PM
we already have employers and employees dishing out both whine and pomp, why add a third party for an even greater headache?

whine x3
pomp x3
_______

no thanks

So basically you think that an employee that complains about working more than 10 hours/day is whining? Or someone who works under the pretention that they can work N hours and only get paid for K hours (where N > K)?

-M

DefGeoff256
03-25-2005, 04:56 PM
I think Unions would serve as a double edged sword for 3 reasons:

1) Unions have the potential to raise wages and living conditions in an industry that still struggles with fairness. Example, EA emplyees would begin to see the fruits of their labor as EA's revenues FAR outway their costs in terms of Art Development and QA (the redheaded step children of the industry). Artists could benefit form an organization much like the ones Graphic Designers enjoy, the AIGA.

2) The down side would be that Unions would most definitely lower job opportunities as wages become garaunteed because gaming houses (and maybe VFX as well) would want to offset production costs by outsourcing their development - just look at the competition in places like France, Eastern Europe, Thailand, New Zealand etc... can you honestly tell me that a garunteed minimum wage of even 35K a year wouldn't result in at least a marginal amount of outsourcing?

3) Quality Control - quality could also see a drop if a Union seriously persued Aritists' job security. Look at education in CA as an example (having grown up here, I think I know a thig or two about this). Having moved from Minnesota to Marin County (a rich county) I didn't have to learn anything new for 2 years... 2 YEARS! In 8th grade in MN, I knew more about History, Algebra, Spanish, and Grammar than a Sophomore in Highschool because the quality of teaching was horrendous. I see the same thing happening, over an extended period of time, in the gaming industry. What entry level Artist is going to care about quality if they won't get fired anyway...? Just a thought.

In sum, the ide aof a Union is a nice idea. But seeing as the profit motive for the CEOs of these companies far outways the needs of the workforce. CEOs now make on average of 100x what the lowest paid employee makes, if a Union were to address issues like that, I'd be all for it. But if the Union's sole purpose would be to garauntee wages and ensure fair business practices I think that gaming houses would rather hire the guy in Romania who doesn't gripe and is satisfied with $500 a month.

:shrug: Just a thought
Geoff

halo
03-25-2005, 06:08 PM
For slave driving you need 2 things:

#1 a slave driver
#2 a slave being driven

I argue that in both these cases you are there yourself making the choice, either working for a slave driver or allowing yourself to be driven as a slave : both are in fact choices.

Stop acting like a victim. If you are not happy with your situation: act! You have the freedom of choice.

E.

thats fine if there is a choice, but there are situations where people have been in a perfectly good situation only to have it ruined by an employment aspect (like a new bad manager) and the alternatives are either narrow or worse due to cirumstance. Opportunity and choice favours the young, but people with families can't be expect to jump around the lands just to find a job that doesn't exploit them. Your right, you do have a choice, but sometimes the alternative is to stop working in games...funnily enough its a choice that a lot of people take, look around your studio...where do you see all the ground level staff in 10-15...are there enough positions higher up to support them? if not, are they expected to work the same hours for the same pay for the next decade?

I dont like unions much either, I think there needs to be better legislation...an illustration of this in the UK is that if an employer breaks their existing contract with you, changes it without your approval to make you work under conditions that you dont agree with or are unworkable then by continuing working you are deemed to accept the new conditions...you actually have to resign and then sue for forced resignation compensation to get anywhere.

So, if you get told that, even though you've just been given a contract saying you would be working 40 hours, you will be working 80 with no extra benefits you have to leave (therefore removing your entitlement to state benefits), and sue (off your own back and pocket) the company (which maybe the only one in town) to get back the money you lost by leaving your job (which you can no longer work for), meanwhile the company can fight it hire some keen muppet to do the job.
Even if they lose there are limits to the compensation and its argued sometimes that the compensation can be outwieghed by the benefits the company can receive in making their staff work under conditions more favourable to the company.

Yeh, you always have a choice...so does the company...

bentllama
03-25-2005, 06:32 PM
whine and pomp defined:

when i mentioned that there is enough whine and pomp on both sides of the fence in this industry it comes from the folllowing observations.

employees in general bitch among themselves and rarely to thier employer. whining till your gums bleed is not the way to get things done or initiate change. boost morale with your peers by being more proactive about the situation. unions on the other hand could help alleviate a little bit of this but more often than not the union is just as whiny and not as proactive about the situation than the actual employee can be who is witnessing the trauma first hand. unions too deal with legal matters that take up more time and effort than personal conversations directly with your employer. employees that whine just because it is fashionable make me ill. be proactive.

as for employee pomp, more and more we are seeing employees think they are worth more in thier own eyes than the eyes of the company. they think they deserve huge amounts of extras and special treatment. sometimes they do. however, they do not deserve to be overworked.

employer whining stems from profits and power tripping. they like to whine in the press and to thier people to try and generate sympatahy screens while they do evil things in the background. employer whining has no spec of true emotion behind it. it is simply a ruse and a thread to pull along the issue long enough that it either gets forgott.en or given up. adding a union as another antagonist of the employer could make things worse. it could create more contention between employers and workers because now instead of one enemy employers have two. employers get ugly when they feel outnumbered.

employer pomp is the biggest misfortune to the industry. employers stand behind thier profits and fame foretting one key item - it is the people around you that make you great. if you treat your employees like crap and make them feel like your are mightier than them, there will be dissent and your community will start to erode. god complexes are too frequent among employers and among heads of unions. when the two gods collide prepare for an epic battle of mules where neither will budge. events like that put the workers right in the line of fire and fires of hate. not a favourable position to be in...

all in all I am for workers standing up for thier rights, but IMO a union is not always the answer.

have some self respect and stand up for yourself.
stop whispering to your neigbour and start yelling to the sky...

richcz3
03-25-2005, 09:06 PM
....all in all I am for workers standing up for thier rights, but IMO a union is not always the answer....
Unions were an answer in the states in the early 1930's after the Great Depression.
Laws and legistlation need to be written up to address the modern era of digital work. Union organizations are not fleet of foot so they are as beurocratic as the government. There is No need to inject log jams into creative production which keeps work from getting done. Ultimately it will cost more money to produce and force more companies to close or move offshore.

Remmers
03-25-2005, 09:45 PM
[QUOTE=DefGeoff2563)
In sum, the ide aof a Union is a nice idea. But seeing as the profit motive for the CEOs of these companies far outways the needs of the workforce. CEOs now make on average of 100x what the lowest paid employee makes, if a Union were to address issues like that, I'd be all for it. But if the Union's sole purpose would be to garauntee wages and ensure fair business practices I think that gaming houses would rather hire the guy in Romania who doesn't gripe and is satisfied with $500 a month.
[/QUOTE]

I agree I haven't even started working yet so I don't have any experiance of unions but I just don't feel its a good ide to put artists in a union. How would the future look if there is no need for artists to refine the quality of their work?

EvilGnome
03-25-2005, 11:34 PM
This might be the wrong place to post this, but it seems to me that this industry will forever be a place for single young people with no permanent ties unless something changes.
Many experienced digital artists who "grew up" with the industry are having families and it impacts upon them(us) and their flexibility, both in work hours and moving around to get the next job.
When you have a family your perspective changes, the "you have a choice" factor is much reduced when you have a responsibility to provide for others.

It'd be bad to lose experienced people because employers will only employ hungry 20somethings who will work for little, do extended hours for no additional charge and be easily replacable when they burn out, and not ask for their rights.(not a good situation for anyone)

Long hours and unreasonable crunch times seem to be the norm in this industry, and I wonder whats really to blame for this? Poor client relations? Poor management? Employees spending all their time on forums or making their next CG Talk Challenge entry instead of working? ;-)

I'm not saying unionism is the answer, and I know this is really a rant against the way our dollar driven society functions, but *something* needs to be done when companies treat employees badly when the industry is tough enough already.

When you're doing those long hours etc. try to think ahead 10 years and see if you still want to be working 60hrs a week?

beaker
03-26-2005, 12:03 AM
I think people should look at the Animation Guild MPSC 839 that Disney, Dreamworks, Warner, Universal, Nick, etc... all work under. IMHO it is the right kind of union that works properly. All they do is:

1. set minimum pay for different positions at different levels(no maximums).
2. Set defined hours for overtime (above 8hrs a day is 1.5x, above 12 hrs a day is 2x, sat is auto 1.5x and sun is auto 2x).
2. provide a universal healthcare plan that is very high quality because they can pool employees from many different companies in order to get a very good plan for the price.
3. provide banked benefits based on the amount of hours you work that can be extended up to 18 months after you leave a union gig.
4. 401k
5. credit union
6. discounts at locals schools and additional free training for people that want to improve their skills.

plus a bunch of other stuff I can't even think of.

They do not:
1. strike
2. prevent you from working at non union gigs
3. prevent non union people from getting a job at a union house. If a person gets a gig at a union house, they get a union membership, no red tape.
4. make it hard to fire people for lazyness or not doing their job. They do not protect bad employees.

http://www.mpsc839.org/

Ryan-B
03-26-2005, 12:13 AM
Long hours and unreasonable crunch times seem to be the norm in this industry, and I wonder whats really to blame for this? Poor client relations? Poor management? Employees spending all their time on forums or making their next CG Talk Challenge entry instead of working? ;-)


A lack of project management is the root cause of the long hours in the game industry.

richcz3
03-26-2005, 12:17 AM
Here's why unionization won't work.
I've been doing this for many years now and I come to work with a game plan on what I want to accomplish. My own wish list is often compromised by any number of technical or creative lapses that happen.

Creativety doesn't have realizable guages or measures in which standards can be set and enforced. I can't say I want to make 5 tetxture maps and 5 UV maps for 5 items in 5 hours day in day out. Anyone who would suggest that is kidding themselves. Now put two equaly skilled artists together and try the same task. You'll get widely ranging results on any given day. The creative industries are not like making cars or jets in factories that build x amount of product in x amount of hours for x amount of dollars.

As for the industry being a magnet to the 20 somethings, there is some merrit to that assesment. For the reasons mentioned above, time is almost always working against you.
For anyone who is climbing the age gap of 30 on up, if you want to settle down you may want to evaluate your long term goals. Can you see yourself doing this when you're 40 or 50 years old? The animation markets whether 2D or 3D will always be volatile. Unions, will only make it more so.

halo
03-26-2005, 12:44 AM
A lack of project management is the root cause of the long hours in the game industry.

Actually i think thats a symptom rather than the cause...I think the cause is trying to tie a very young and inexperienced creative industry to a commercial market where enormous amounts of money are ventured. You can't expect everyone to get it right all the time while the market is still being defined.

The film industry has established its working practices for decades and despite the hiccup that digital has meant to certain sectors and their upheaval, its pretty much working in the same manner and markets as it always has, whereas 30 years ago there just wasn't a "games" industry, and the big uptake has really only been in the last 10-15 years...thats not even the length of an indvidual's working life, the industry is still being born, so its important to establish the practices now.

dmaas
03-26-2005, 01:14 AM
If game/CG employees unionize, it will raise the cost of running game/CG businesses, and they will look to oursourcing overseas even more intensely than they do now. Look at how film productions left LA and NYC for Canada due to high costs (and now they are even fleeing Canada for Australia and New Zealand! :) )

beaker
03-26-2005, 01:33 AM
If game/CG employees unionize, it will raise the cost of running game/CG businesses, and they will look to oursourcing overseas even more intensely than they do now. Look at how film productions left LA and NYC for Canada due to high costs (and now they are even fleeing Canada for Australia and New Zealand! :) )I have to disagree here. When you say NZ are you talking about weta? Over 75% of weta's employees are from the US and the EU and they pay US/london rates, so the only cost savings are on housing. Same with Austrailian and Canadian ones, they all have to hire outside people because there aren't enough qualified artists in the Au/Canada, and again, they have to pay US rates to get people over there. The number of qualified artists with film experience is still really small and most countries working on big vfx projects end up having to import many of their employees from all over which costs a lot of money. The savings of doing vfx outside the US is greatly exaggerated. I can think of dozens of examples where this is true.

richcz3
03-26-2005, 01:39 AM
dmaas. Yup that has happened in other industries as well.

On the bright side folks. This isn't a prediction but a reality.
There really is a sea of talent out there scrapping for the title/envy employment jobs. That in my opinion is short sighted.

Content production for original works and material for commercials, shorts, and shows could empower small studio start ups of 1,2, or 3 people in the coming years. In an ever expanding video world the biggest companies can't cover all the bases and more and more work will be assigned/delegated to new upstarts. Telecom companies are already gearing for orginal content over the web partly because Cable is stalking into phone service here in the states.
The next 5 years should be very interesting.

danielh68
03-26-2005, 01:55 AM
Thanks Beaker for the link and info...very informative.

Magnusv
03-26-2005, 02:08 AM
whine and pomp defined:

when i mentioned that there is enough whine and pomp on both sides of the fence in this industry it comes from the folllowing observations.

employees in general bitch among themselves and rarely to thier employer. whining till your gums bleed is not the way to get things done or initiate change. boost morale with your peers by being more proactive about the situation. unions on the other hand could help alleviate a little bit of this but more often than not the union is just as whiny and not as proactive about the situation than the actual employee can be who is witnessing the trauma first hand. unions too deal with legal matters that take up more time and effort than personal conversations directly with your employer. employees that whine just because it is fashionable make me ill. be proactive.

as for employee pomp, more and more we are seeing employees think they are worth more in thier own eyes than the eyes of the company. they think they deserve huge amounts of extras and special treatment. sometimes they do. however, they do not deserve to be overworked.

employer whining stems from profits and power tripping. they like to whine in the press and to thier people to try and generate sympatahy screens while they do evil things in the background. employer whining has no spec of true emotion behind it. it is simply a ruse and a thread to pull along the issue long enough that it either gets forgott.en or given up. adding a union as another antagonist of the employer could make things worse. it could create more contention between employers and workers because now instead of one enemy employers have two. employers get ugly when they feel outnumbered.

employer pomp is the biggest misfortune to the industry. employers stand behind thier profits and fame foretting one key item - it is the people around you that make you great. if you treat your employees like crap and make them feel like your are mightier than them, there will be dissent and your community will start to erode. god complexes are too frequent among employers and among heads of unions. when the two gods collide prepare for an epic battle of mules where neither will budge. events like that put the workers right in the line of fire and fires of hate. not a favourable position to be in...

all in all I am for workers standing up for thier rights, but IMO a union is not always the answer.

have some self respect and stand up for yourself.
stop whispering to your neigbour and start yelling to the sky...


Very well said.I totally agree with this.Bravo!:thumbsup:

dmaas
03-26-2005, 02:35 AM
Beaker - interseting note about labor rates overseas. I did not know many studios were "re-importing" US talent at US prices. Though there may be other, offsetting savings from not operating in the US, like costs for health insurance and complying with US business laws. (if it were truly less expensive to operate here, you wouldn't see so many overseas productions, right?)

I predict another growth area for overseas will be "low-end" and "mid-range" work, like animation for TV series and low-budget films. I think the very best work will still be done in the US, UK, Japan, and Europe for some time to come, but other places will eat away at projects where budget is more important than quality. It is not THAT hard to train someone to crank out flying logos and low-quality character animation.

Look for booths of outsourced animation companies at SIGGRAPH this year. I had never seen such a thing at the show before last year (though I wasn't really looking). Last year I counted three companies (one from India and two from Eastern Europe). Bet there will be at least three this year :)

beaker
03-26-2005, 03:09 AM
Actually what is even funnier is that I know of a few Canadian and Au companies right at this moment that are paying rates 20% or so higher than LA rates and end up covering the person's housing and rental car plus a rush ticket for going to AU from the EU or US is like 2-5k during their summer.

You mentioned health care though, which most places don't offer unless your permanent staff in the US. 80% of the work in LA and Sanfran is Project hire, ie no health care. Also most countries only have a 35 hr work work week before you get overtime, where the US is 40 and Canada 35-44hrs depends the province (Ontario recently moved to 44).

I do agree though that many low-medium work like cartoons is going to be in Asia like it has been for cell animated movies forever. I was really comparing the costs of Canada/Au, which are slightly cheaper, but not by as much as everyone thinks. A lot of that money is hidden behind foreign government tax write offs for doing animation in that country. The company paying for the work is seeing that write off but not the vfx company in that country.

I forgot to add that currently the US dollars worth has gone down quite a bit in the last year so things done overseas aren't quite as cheap for US companies anymore.

Dirtystimpy
03-26-2005, 03:31 AM
You mentioned health care though, which most places don't offer unless your permanent staff in the US. 80% of the work in LA and Sanfran is Project hire, ie no health care.

which really sucks, espcially when your expecting a baby!

Great info deke, thanks.

speaking of the benefits, anyone know of any plans good for artists besides cobra?

Bonedaddy
03-26-2005, 05:08 AM
I'd just like to add that on all the projects I've been on where some of it has been outsourced, the process and result have been crushingly awful, and the clients involved generally started thinking twice about outsourcing by the end of it.

That's just my personal experience, but it's enough to make me not overly concerned about outsourcing, at least in the feature film VFX industry.

bentllama
03-26-2005, 05:25 AM
beaker, thanks for your post on that particular union. it opened up my eyes a little bit.

thanks.

beaker
03-26-2005, 08:08 AM
speaking of the benefits, anyone know of any plans good for artists besides cobra?Blue cross blue shield and Kaiser offers pretty inexpensive plans for individuals(100-250/mo) that you can sign up for on their website. No idea how much it is if you have a family or if your high risk though.

Lunatique
03-26-2005, 09:37 AM
have some self respect and stand up for yourself.
stop whispering to your neigbour and start yelling to the sky...

I'm sorry, but you are still assuming everyone's brain work like yours, and every employer is a benevolent and kind person. Let's look at this hypothetical situation:

Let's say there's a game artist who we will call Paul Lee ("poly," get it? Heheheh).

Paul has been unhappy that the crunch time keeps getting extended, and the company's been demanding that everyone stays late to make the milestone. He hasn't been home to eat dinner with his wife and two daughters for weeks now, and he kept breaking one promise after another to his daughters to go take them to the zoo on weekends, because he's been at work trying to finish the latest playable level for the upcoming milestone.

Eventually, Paul decides that enough is enough--he has to voice his concerns so that the higher ups know this cannot continue, that he's putting his foot down. So Paul goes to talk to the boss and they have a nice, civilized talk, and the boss says that he understands and will try to do something about it. Encouraged by Paul's example, his co-workers all gather up their courage to also speak up about their dissatisfaction with the current situation.

Next week, a new guy is hired, straight out of one of the CG/game design schools that's been popping up everywhere. This new kids is young, full of enthusiasm, has a great portfolio that oozes talent, willing to sleep under his desk, live on cold pizza and Mountain Dew, and accepts a salary that's practically 50% of what Paul is getting--all this, just to live the dream of working in games--a dream he's had since he was a little boy playing his Playstation. The week after that, a few more young guns are hired, all bright-eyed and bushy tailed.

Paul and his co-workers spends the next few weeks bringing the newcomers up to speed on the company production pipeline, how to use proprietary softwares, and other nitty gritty that they need to know.

Then, Paul and his co-workers are laid off. They are no longer needed. They aren't willing to work the long hours required to make the milestones. The publisher sure the hell aren't going to allow the impossible schedule to slide--as the company orignally out-bidded the other developers because they quoted lower production cost and faster delivery time. The company can't let up on the neck-breaking pace, because to do so will piss off the publisher--who has no time for developer's sob-stories. They also can't risk pissing off the existing employees, who have already expressed unhappiness with the ways things are, and will probably walk if the company kept the crunch time up. Of course, having the dev team walk out on you during next crunch would probably mean the end of the company, so they did the only thing that made sense--and that is to replace these current employees with young, energetic, and easily controlled young guys who have no family, lives/breathes games, and only asking for half of salary of the current employees. The company can then work these new guys for a number of years before they too, get burned out, married..etc.

Now, all of you that has read this hypothetical story--how many of you has seen this happen with your own eyes? I sure the hell have. All of my peers in the game industry have.

Does it make sense now why it is very dangerous for people to speak out?

bentllama
03-26-2005, 05:22 PM
re: Luna's previous post

I am not assuming anything. I am expelling my personal opinion in an open forum of debate.

Luna, that is the same rhetoric you have posted on a similar topic in the past and it is an appropriate example for the current topic.

It is true that I do have a great gig and my bosses are a delight to work for, however, I have been on the other side of the fence. Industry turmoil is what got me to my current pleasant situation. I have not forgotten that.

In your example, I feel the crux of the issue you outlined boiled down to one strong point.
Publishers are at the top of the food chain, spreading tyranny and fear throughout the masses. Pomp and power are corrupting the industry, a point I made earlier in this thread. It is hard for employers and employees to work and co-exist under an unmbrella of fear.

I am excited however by a growing trend in games development. Dev houses are developing amazing proof of concepts and near final games and then shopping them to publishers. When so much of the game already works extremely well, publisher involvement can be ease off the backs of developers. This is nothing new, but it is a production method that seemed widely on hiatus.

I am glad to see a resurgence of this type of freethought. This kind of proactive behavior from developers along with the developer distribution model that Steam is trailblazing, is something I can see influencing a happier future for games development.

Hugh-Jass
03-26-2005, 05:37 PM
Blue cross blue shield and Kaiser offers pretty inexpensive plans for individuals(100-250/mo) that you can sign up for on their website. No idea how much it is if you have a family or if your high risk though.

be careful with these lower cost plans

if you read the fine print they often don't cover much or only allow limited office visits a year (no joke...I saw one plan ...only allow 2 visits a year)

usually no prescription coverage and fairly high co-pays...

Dirtystimpy
03-26-2005, 06:24 PM
be careful with these lower cost plans

if you read the fine print they often don't cover much or only allow limited office visits a year (no joke...I saw one plan ...only allow 2 visits a year)

usually no prescription coverage and fairly high co-pays...

yeah, I'll have to look into that. The problem is having a baby due, if not, I'm sure we could do one of those smaller plans. The problem isn't having the benefits now, (my wife works at a studio up here as well, gets all the benefits) its just when she has the baby, and I'm still a contract worker.


I apologize if it seems like I'm hijacking this thread, just curious about a point made up.

rakmaya
03-26-2005, 06:43 PM
Don't know about Designing section, but in Programming, there is enough competetion because of the number of prof programmers available. However, all my life I haven't seen people laying off higly experienced to hire new comers in Programming corners. When a newcomer is very talented then only the experienced ones are sent away.

In coding section, the only thing it matters is your skill and knowledge of various platforms. Week ones fail and Strong ones succeed. That is something I strongly believe in. If you have talent, then one way or another, you should be back in the job in less than 2 weeks if you get laid off for other reasons than your lack of skills.

I don't like Unions becuase from a production point of view, you want to hire the best for the least. Even if I am an employee, I think that is necessary here. UNlike other working places, Game Industry is a confined industry. Here you can easily point out who got skills and who doesn't in just first 8 hours.

Even if you were working for 10 years in the same company, you shouldn't get any extra shield from new comers. This is one reason Game industry has grown faster than any other industry. People can hire the best people with very little restriction. Unlimately, the company's aim is to produce the finest product, not just a cheap product. So in Game Insdustry, you are garanteed that companies will hire the best people (even if it cost them more or less). This will force those idle, sleeping seniors to keep up with everything.

beaker
03-27-2005, 08:27 AM
Unlimately, the company's aim is to produce the finest product, not just a cheap product. So in Game Insdustry, you are garanteed that companies will hire the best people (even if it cost them more or less). This will force those idle, sleeping seniors to keep up with everything.Please don't fool yourself, not all companies work this way. There are plenty of companies out there to produce fast selling, cheap and crappy games. Guaranteed to hire the best people? Right, only in a perfect world. Not every game company has EA budgets and hire only the best. There are plenty of companies out there that only exist to exploit young cheap(enthusiastic) talent.

rakmaya
03-27-2005, 01:07 PM
Yes defenitly. There are companies that does this. And like you said their aim is to create cheap game fast. These are the companies that come up with those rediculous stupidest games in the market.

If I understand that I am in the middle of such a situation, I would quit myself and look for a better one.

When a company hires you are a game programmer (not sure of the designing section), they want you to be enthusiastic about games. If I find myself working for a Project Lead who is not as enthusuastic as I am, I tell them openly what is wrong and get myself out of there. I understand that most people have family and financial issues to worry about especially, this time when economy is not as robust as it used to be. But like you said, this is real world. I don't have much trouble finding another job if situation force me to. I only work to create robust engines and games. If they ask me to do it in 6 months, I'll do it. If they as me to do it in 1 month, I'll tell them to do it themselves. And I am not afraid to tell that either ( I have done it before as well).

Also, I don't like the idea that a person should be kept in the company just because he is a snior. I don't like to work for such a company either. If a young programmer is better than me, then he deserves my position to make the game better.

Like you said beaker, this is real world. So I take risks as well if I am in such a situation. But I don't think Unions will ever solve that. I come from a country where Unions have gone so far that the people take advantages of the benefits to create crisis in the long run. I have been to those situations and I don't want that hapenning to game industry.

rwijaya
03-27-2005, 05:14 PM
game artist become union in USA means, outsourcing works to non union country.
then comes more whinning and ranting.

just my opinion is, union will work if the company they go againts is a huge company, not if the company just laid their egg on the basket.

BoydLake
03-28-2005, 08:08 AM
Awww man! First the never-ending Poser yip-yap and now the Union threads. But somehow it's not that bad knowing the future competition is a lot of card carrying Union artists that like using Poser. ;)

mummey
03-28-2005, 01:08 PM
game artist become union in USA means, outsourcing works to non union country.
then comes more whinning and ranting.

just my opinion is, union will work if the company they go againts is a huge company, not if the company just laid their egg on the basket.

Using that logic, we should just unionize, since the jobs are getting outsourced anyways... :rolleyes:

DefGeoff256
03-28-2005, 04:33 PM
It seems like everyone is aware that our Gaming companies seem to be following the bigger trend of cheaper labor, cheaper podcuts, phatter renvenues. And it's almost become common knowledge that everyone wants to jump on a bandwagon once it gets rolling (thanks EA:thumbsup:). But thinking of the future, as many higher ups in the industry ask me and us to do, what would a CG Union provide? Personally, I'd LOVE to see some healthcare, free training, etc. But what 20 something here can actually afford to pay dues that would enable a union to do this? I know that I'm already having trouble paying rent, let alone paying dues to my union.

All the sentiments voiced in this forum scream the same thing - "things a re F'd up, I'm under paid, management sucks, and the only reason I work as hard as I do is because someone else out there will one up me for less money and get my job if I don't bust my butt." So I understand the call for unionization, though I feel that this solution is much too short sighted. The profit motives our companies thrive off of are not tied to employee happiness, in fact they almost always run contrary to employee's interests - not to mention consumer interests. What I think we should realize is that as a CG community we are facing a critical time, one that has seen the emmergence of Video-games as a wildly profitable industry (thanks again, EA:thumbsup:). Now we find ourselves and our jobs threatened by newcomers world wide, a floundering economy, profit motives gone awry, and a shrinking job opportunities. I think only a Union that encompassed ALL game developers (Art Directors, Programmers, Quality Assurance, and all the oter underlings that actually drive the industry) would have even the slightest chance of succeeding in bringing our concerns to development houses.

I'm talking a Video-Game Union, not just CG. Make no mistake, now is the time when trends will be set, bandwagons will possee up and make their rounds. I hope to be on the filled to overflowing Video-Game bandwagon that gives us a lift to reasonable equity (hopefully not too many will die of dissentary, and we can eat something more than meager rations on our way to Chimney Rock:)).

dmaas
03-28-2005, 11:06 PM
Well said!

Reminds me of the saying "worse is better." The industry is becoming commoditized. Instead of most work going to a few really expensive studios doing lots of proprietary research and development, it now goes to legions of mid-range small studios mostly using off-the-shelf tools (and dare I say, off-the-shelf artists?). It must be a paradise for film producers - THIS is why they all exclaim about the wonders of CG techology - great graphics for cheap! But it's hell if you are actually trying to make a profit supplying the graphics.

beaker
03-29-2005, 02:53 PM
Personally, I'd LOVE to see some healthcare, free training, etc. But what 20 something here can actually afford to pay dues that would enable a union to do this? I know that I'm already having trouble paying rent, let alone paying dues to my union. Union dues are pretty cheap(refering 839, not sure about local16 which ILM is part of). The big one is the first two weeks paycheck, but that is your entry fee into the union and you never have to pay that ever again no matter who else you goto work for. The union dues are something like $400 every 6 months, which is nothing(if you can't afford that then your seriously getting screwed on pay). I forgot to mention that you also get a retirement pension under the union.

pogonip
03-29-2005, 07:02 PM
I do believe unions have a major downside but how else do you solve the problem of a major company like EA treating there employees like they are lucky to even have a job . I really don't think educated,talented people should be treated that way . It's more of a problem of supply and demand . If there was more demand on there side they would be forced to treat people better or face short comings in productivity . However they have 1000's of people who apply there every year they know they can fill seats if they need to fire someone for any given reason .

I think a lot of people point out bad unions and say " noooo " but look at the sports industry . Those people are entertainers just like we are to an extent . There unions have done them a lot of good . They are treated very well and payed VERY well and if they are let go they are given a nice severence package . It's a slippery slope but I think it's going to come to the day when we will need one because companies like EA give people no choice .

sundialsvc4
03-29-2005, 07:36 PM
I think that I agree with the earlier post: lack of project management is the root cause of the game industry's labor problems.

It is not possible to build a company, and to deliver high-quality products on-time on-budget, if you are "constantly in crunch mode" and are flogging your workers. Eventually they will tell you to stuff-it and leave, but long before that happens the quality of their work-product will turn to crap. If you find that your projects are "crunching," and especially if they are doing so routinely, then you are not forecasting your time/labor requirements correctly! It's as simple as that.

In the long run, the cost of a few dozen more laborers is not going to make or break the project, but the cost of piss-poor project management will. The world's full of hot-shot ex-programmers who were promoted to the ranks of Middle Management, where they tried to apply their "Jolt Cola technique" to the roomful of programmers now under their command, and... it doesn't work. It will never work.

The world's also full of books on the software-development process that are talking about these issues. Maybe they ought to be read. You are not the first.

dudeguy
03-30-2005, 08:43 AM
"This is not just an EA thing," he says. "As word slowly gets out that regardless where you work, the conditions are all miserable, how easy do you think it's going to be for our industry to attract new talent? When people start avoiding us because they believe us to be a bunch of slave drivers, that's got long-term, industry-wide implications. That's why the IGDA sees this as a very serious issue."

Last year, the association did an informal survey of game designers which revealed that about 30 percent of the respondents didn't intend to be in the industry within five years; more than 50 percent said they will be gone in 10.

"That is a huge number," says Della Rocca. "Imagine if half the people in Hollywood left every 10 years. What kind of experience would remain? Where would the talent come from?" I found this part of the article highly interesting and very close to truth of what I'm seeing in the industry, including my personal thoughts.

A lack of project management is the root cause of the long hours in the game industry. This about sums it up in my opinion.

It comes down to poor scheduling, simple as that.

Places like to give the impression that there is never enough time, or time is running out. Truth of the matter is, there is plenty of time, we are making games and movies, if we don't finish on time, life goes on, we are not doctors and we are not curing diseases. People will live if Half-Life 2 doesn't ship on time and if they don't, they need to a get a life.

Boone
03-30-2005, 06:25 PM
I agree on Unions being 6-of-one-and-half-a-dozen-of-the-other.

From what I hear outside the games industry( haven't got in yet, so my opinion is suspect... ), many employees are being ordered to work overtime or face the chop. THAT is definetly unfair if that little guy doesn't have a contract that allows it. In that case it is simply abuse and the worker needs to know their rights according to the law. And before anyone says "well! They should know their rights before signing the contract!" - go watch Judge Judy! :wip:

I think a Union could be good if they gave their members good advice when needed...but then, you may not need a Union - just an industry watchdog. :lightbulb

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