You Know What's Wrong With The Industry?

Shannon Drake | 13 Oct 2006 10:10
Op-Ed - RSS 2.0

This seems to be popping up a lot lately.

I spotted this article on Gamasutra today and, while I don't understand most of the big words, what I did get from it was this: The way the industry operates now is pretty broken, or, at least, dysfunctional compared to the way the rest of the business world operates. He said something that sounded pretty familiar...

Game production companies do not maintain multiple offices or a large staff. In its down time, a game production company consists of 3-5 key people, mostly executive producers with significant experience in concrete disciplines in a small office. This is because projects can take months or even years to get off the ground.

I've heard of a company like that. And the reason Wideload is effective with that method is right there in the Gamasutra piece:

On-site control is an illusion, and while the camaraderie of a large office space is nice, it is also the least financially efficient way of getting production work done in an age of broadband. A development company spends $5,000 dollars and more per month per desk in wages, rent and other costs. A production company uses a roster of professionals charging professional rate fees who work from home or their outsourcing firm. These professionals are hired based on work available, so the production company pays on material rather than time.

So, is Wideload the wave of the future? It's hard to say. It does make financial sense, but then again, the idea of a company made up of telecommuters is still very suspicious to traditional management. There's this sneaking suspicion that people won't actually work if left to their own devices.

It's ironic that the cutting edge of labor in this regard is, apparently, the federal government. While cutting-edge technology companies where everyone uses cellphones, IM software, broadband, etc., still stagger along doing things the old-fashioned way, the federal government(!) is actually encouraging its employees to work from home.

My point, such as it is, is that we're seeing more and more signs that the industry needs to change and is going to, whether we like it or not. I think Jason Della Rocca's article for us was the first I saw of it. Now, the "GAME DEVELOPMENT ISN'T SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT" crowd seems to be convinced the way they're doing things now is the only way to do things. The question is "Can the industry sustain it?" I think it's becoming clear that it can't.

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