Where We Stand

It has been quite a while. A month even. The articles I had lined up currently are sitting in a unrevised state, and thanks to a lack of time, they’ll probably stay that way for a little while longer.

This post however, is different.

I opened my email to find a post on Facebook from a major advocate of supporting the games industry mentioning a particular someone I think the Melbourne games industry is relatively familiar with. This particular someone has become known as a trouble maker, to say the least, in the games industry and an example of what not to do when hoping to make a difference. I’m not naming names or writing this to deface who ever that person may be. I’m writing this because, I’m a little bit saddened by it all. Well, it was more like bashing my head into the desk at first and now reflectively, I’m saddened by it. From the time I remember it beginning, the rumors, the people directly and indirectly effected by the actions taken, it still continues, and is equally frustrating to figure out why it still is.

Forgive me if what I’m about to write is seemingly obvious in the grand scheme of it all but I feel that the obvious needs to be said, because sometimes the most obvious things are sometimes the most overlooked. Remembering all the moments where face palming was the only thing you could do has forced my hand into saying what I believe.

You have to admire a person who is persistent, passionate, never gives up and sticks to what they thinks best. And the games industry is filled with them, all capable and with their own individual flair. Going from the people to the studios, they are all looking to make a difference where they can and when they can. A living, breathing, continuously moving definition of the word passion all focused on the subject of games.

In the last few years we’ve watched developers we’ve known from their infancy grow up and become glorious enterprises. We’ve also seen a few admit to problems and work to resolve them. We’ve watched as many close down or lay-off employees leaving thousands of game developers jobless. And watched the eager new comers, students, and hidden talent unable to get their foot in the door to use their talents to help grow the games industry and themselves as game developers.

But in light of all the bad news that we seem to drag along. There is hope. Excuse the cliche sentiment, but there is. It is all still moving forward. New studios are popping up in place of old ones. Students are coming together to make games. Veterans and professionals are doing what they can to improve the standards in development. New and exciting resources are being made available all the time without blowing budgets. Developers are experimenting with ideas they could only dream of before. And groups of communities are their to help it stay in touch and move along nicely.

So to be clear, we as an industry are doing everything we can to move forward and make the industry better. Taking the mistakes and problems of the past and doing something better with it when we can. Which is awesome.

But not everyone seems to be thinking that way. There have been a few cases where the intentions are good, but have all the hallmarks of similar problems that as an industry we are trying to move away from. I guess you can say pursue through more mature and realistic means. I’ll admit, passion can delude you sometimes. Having expectations to make sacrifices because what you feel and believe needs to be done should be done, bit realistically it shouldn’t. In those cases it’s a matter of having the self control to say, no we can’t do that, but how can I get there doing it professionally and with a level of maturity.

I guess this is where the person in question who is triggering all this writing comes into it. But just so we know, it’s not just this person doing it. It’s a story I hear all the time and am personally all to familiar with.

Starting a company is a big deal, and is not something anyone should just do. Because lets face it, it’s a lot of damn work. But if you’re trying to start a company on the banner of “we’re going to make the game industry better”, you’re only stating something that every game developer and studio is already trying to do. If you’re hiring people right out of school or vulnerable thanks to a turbulent time, exploiting their talents and saying “we’ll pay you at the end of the project if it makes money”, you’re not only wasting time, but your making it difficult to trust you as a company. People can’t make a living on “free experience” no matter what you give them as “compensation” and it can only lead to more problems. You’re not only not learning from past mistakes but you’re moving in the wrong direction. If you flame, exploit, insult, threaten, damage or have intent to sue people or companies (without a good reason), your damaging the reputation of the very industry you are trying to make better. No one in their right mind will respect or trust you if that’s what you think needs to be done to make things better, especially if you’re potentially putting those people out of their jobs. The sum of it all is that time and money is wasted, and in an industry where the main problem is the lack of funding, having the intention of “making it better” through these means, is to say the least, not the right way to go about it.

If you really want to make a difference, prepare yourself. Sacrifice a little, control your passion and commit. If you got a vision of something you want to bring to the industry. Do some research, pace yourself, do everything you possibly can on your own or as a team where everyone is in it together. Know where you stand and then make your moves. Don’t just go shooting from the hip running blindly because the only thing people are going to think is “what the hell is that person even trying to shoot at and where are they running to”. Not only is it unwise but it’s destined for failure. If something isn’t working, re-evaluate, think about it and figure out why something is going wrong, and try again. Don’t just ignore it, or not “take a hint”, you won’t get anywhere if you don’t listen to feedback. And put your egos aside, if you want to be taken seriously and I’m going to put this as bluntly and succinctly as I can, don’t be a dick about it. I don’t mean that in an immature naive kind of way, I mean that in the true aussie sense of the word on doing things with dignity and respect for not only yourself, but the game industry and it’s people.

And all that is just the surface of it all, it doesn’t stop there!

I guess the take away from this is ask yourself what is it you really doing as part of the games industry? Is what you’re doing going to make a difference? How? And how realistic is doing it that way? If your idea is to put down the games industry, and jump in the middle of the traffic that is trying to move forwards, you might want to think things over again. But if what you want to make games, and you also have a vision of where you’d like things to go in the future for you and the people you meet along the way, you’re on the right track. Just don’t get ahead of yourself.

As game developers we are not alone in how we feel about how things are in the games industry. At times it does suck, but not always. As individuals, we all have our own talents and want to bring something to the industry. We all want to leave a mark to inspire more people through the ideas and the means we do it in. We are not heroes trying to save the industry from where it might end up going. Some of us may be able to do more then others, and some might not be able to do anything at all. But in some way or another, we are all doing what we can, when we can for something we love doing. From that the intention is clear, we all want to move the games industry forward in the hope of making it better, and it is stupid for anyone to say or believe otherwise.

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