“Press Reset. How the gaming industry destroys careers and gives second chances” by Jason Schreyer / Habr

“Press Reset. How the gaming industry destroys careers and gives second chances” by Jason Schreyer / Habr

We have already written about Jason Schreier in the previous article dedicated to Blood, Sweat and Pixels. Let us remind you in two words that the author is a game journalist. He devoted the first book about the reversal of the video game industry to ten cases, nine of which turned out to be successful and ended with the release of the finished product on the market. The second one, which follows it, already tells about much more dramatic things – failures of tens of millions of dollars, left over from projects of ashes and people, who were scattered all over the world by the not the most successful case of game developers.

And if in the first case, while reading, you seem to surf on the waves of the plot and catch motivation, then with the second book, you are more likely to swing on an emotional swing and, perhaps, you will experience heartache if you burn out at least once or jump from the project without your own will on the project.

In the title it is written about a second chance, but we bet, the author invented it in order to soften the impression in advance and not to accidentally frighten the potential reader. Yes, there are stories in the book marked “reset” – about specialists who managed to start from scratch, but these are only fragments of the general mosaic of fate. There seems to be more sweat and blood in this part of the conditional dilogy.

The cover is marked “hard and honest about gamedev”. We confirm here: the author did not deceive and spoke in considerable detail about the dark side, which “the big guys don’t really like to talk about in quarterly earnings reports or E3-type conferences.”

It will not work to reduce the impression to one non-trivial conclusion: there are too many determinants. And you don’t have to try to do it: every quote from a developer, designer, artist is like a piece of the mosaic mentioned above. Of course, the author himself repeats himself and summarizes that creating games is a giant business in which it is not so easy. However, we will try to focus on what conclusions from all this can benefit the current generation of developers who are working on creating games here and now.

As always, here are some quotes to get you started and try to convince you that this book is worth reading.

The whole truth about the illusion of employment

Comparing game development to the film industry, Jason Schreier raises the following issue: “Unlike Hollywood, where people work on a contract basis from film to film, the game industry sells the illusion of full-time employment. Job listings from major publishers like Take-Two and EA promise a career, not a part-time job. If a developer isn’t hired on a temporary contract, they expect to be able to move on to the next game once they’re done with the current game. It is quite logical for an employer to retain employees for a long time. Video game creation tools are becoming more complex and unique. In addition, once a developer masters them, he becomes a more valuable and effective employee than newcomers. And the chemistry developed over the years of joint work is priceless – this can be confirmed by anyone who has worked on a team creative project (or a group scientific experiment). So why should people who make financial decisions in the gaming industry give a shit about this?”

And then, in all nine chapters, he gives answers that sometimes (and quite often) top managers, who dispose of funding, arrive cynically and close projects purely based on mathematical calculations. However, even behind the virtue of the founder, sometimes a gross mistake can be hidden. Headed by the eerily titled “Bloody Leggings,” the author tells the story of 38 Studios and legendary baseball player Curt Schilling, who, after retiring from the sport, prepared to hit a perfect curveball, only to hit a strikeout. “He promised to create a killer World of Warcraft – the best MMORPG on the market with advanced graphics and a deep story that will impress even the most experienced gamers,” we read at the beginning. And this story ends with a completely different account: 38 Studios died, and Curt Schilling, who became famous for his will to win, turned into an Internet troll in the spirit of the “South Park” joke.

Perhaps the arrogance, lack of managerial experience, and projection of his baseball background onto gamedev played a cruel joke on Schilling and his team. In any case, he once found money for the project, investors allocated funding, there were attempts to stop the locomotive, which had not yet accelerated, from the outside – yes, there were. And this led not only to failure, but also to huge debts. Moreover, even some employees should remain – read it, there is an interesting thing about the fine print in the contract.

“Ask any seasoned video game developer what they dislike about the industry and you’re bound to hear variations of the same answer: treating people poorly”

There is a quote in the subtitle.

After her, the author adds that “the industry chews people up and spits them out, leaving nothing but cartilage and bones.” After such metaphors, you yourself, at least, will feel like a lemon that was not made into lemonade.

However, Jason Schreier follows this with a merciless telling of the story of Joe Folstick, who once started his career as a tester at Atari and… was quickly downsized. Then this guy’s personal life was almost destroyed by Irrational crunches. After that he had to go to Microsoft. He then tried his luck as a producer at 2K. But all the time he was forced to change jobs and move from one place to another, but not at his own will, but because of the insidious features of the industry. As a result, Joe left the video game industry and started doing good old fashioned web development and building. “It wasn’t as prestigious as making games, but it paid more and the work-life balance was much better,” Folstick told the author. This is an exciting wargame or adventure game. But also as a result of “reset”, peace and tranquility and an office with livers and a gym.

What can be done

If you read the book in its entirety, you will find dozens of stories similar to the one we told above. “I can’t even imagine how to live in the world of opportunities open to me and at the same time not start all over again with each new place of work,” the author quotes the words of artist Liz Edwards, who worked in top studios in Great Britain and Canada. The question arises: “Eternal “reset” is the norm?”. If so, why do robots that give players a lot of vivid experiences end up without a lifeline and overboard?

Jason Schreier does not give exact answers about how to change everything, but gives hope that it is possible to do without sacrifices. For example, the company 38 Studios could not hide the problems until the moment of complete collapse, when there was no money left even for the payroll – then ordinary developers got nothing but problems and a black line on the resume. “In other words, the majority of 38 Studios employees would probably rather quit in March with two months of severance than come to work in May and find out they’re not going to get paid anymore,” explains Schreyer. And such alternative solutions can be pushed by trade unions, with which in some countries the collective has to defend something.

In this material, we have given only a few particularly striking examples. Maybe you’re already tired of Curt Schilling’s sensational story, but there are eight more cases in the book that we haven’t mentioned here. So, before drawing conclusions, we recommend that you open the table of contents, the introduction and decide for yourself whether you will be interested in adding this book to your shelf or not.

Useful from Online Patent:

→ What is the Register of domestic software?

→ Free online search of Rospatent and Madrid System databases (available after registration).

→ Can a foreign company enter its program into the Register of domestic software?

→ How IT companies can maintain zero VAT and enter the Register of domestic software

→ How to patent a technology?

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