IGDA Responds to Rockstar Wives

IGDA Responds to Rockstar Wives

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The International Game Developers Association has responded to the "Rockstar Wives" controversy, saying that excessive, undisclosed overtime is "deceptive, exploitative and ultimately harmful" to developers, their products and the industry as a whole.

A group calling itself the "Determined Devoted Wives of Rockstar San Diego Employees" published an open letter on Gamasutra earlier this week, alleging that the studio has been in an unending "crunch mode" since March 2009 that's beginning to take a physical toll on the overworked, undervalued employees. Management, according to the writers, cares little for their plight, opting instead to enrich itself while maintaining the unfair status quo.

The IGDA, which maintains a "Quality of Life" special interest group to help address related issues in the industry, has now weighed in on the matter with an open letter of its own. It says little about the Rockstar San Diego matter directly, but notes that its December 2009 survey of more than 3300 developers revealed that while more than half felt they needed "more time for themselves and their families," a majority also said that their studios rarely crunch and do what they can to avoid it.

"Events like these raise the awareness of quality of life issues in the industry and among the public," the IGDA said in its response. "The IGDA has made clear its stance on excessive uncompensated overtime, and this instance represents an opportunity for reflection across the industry. Particularly with the stresses imposed by the declining economy, game studios, like other independent businesses, are under increased pressure and therefore are more susceptible to production concerns."

"The Board of the IGDA and the IGDA's Quality of Life Special Interest Group extend their support to the developers at Rockstar San Diego and their families, and wish them the best in resolving their concerns," it continued. "The IGDA's Quality of Life Special Interest Group has issued an open invitation to Rockstar developers, studio heads, and corporate officers offering consultation to bridge overtime gaps on the basis of their common interest in producing the best game product possible."

It's not exactly a hard-hitting condemnation of the conditions at the studio but as IGDA board member Erin Hoffman noted, there are limits to what the association can do. "No one from Rockstar has ever contacted [the IGDA] nor, to my knowledge, sought advice from the IGDA on this issue at all," she wrote on Gamasutra. "I have individually spoken with multiple Rockstar San Diego developers over the years and have known that this was brewing, but until someone was willing to do something about it, there was nothing to be done from the outside."

Rockstar San Diego is currently at work on Red Dead Redemption, which is scheduled for release in April. Separate from the Wives controversy, however, some sources are saying the game has "huge problems" and even if it does ship, may never be profitable.

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Crunchtime: A curse upon game designers and their signifigant others.

Well, they looks like they are getting more and more publicity to the cause. If it will actually do anything is another matter but its nice to see some attention is been grabbed

I find this ironic since it seems like stories of this sort exist to make a counterpoint to what I (and a few others) have been alleging about "Celebrity Game developers", with points about how with budgets in the tens or hundreds of millions of dollars, where does all the money go when your pretty much dealing with money that goes towards labour.

It seems that now we're hearing about the "poor, oppressed, code monkey", but I still have to ask where all that money is going. Honestly I think I know the answer, and I SUSPECT schticks like this are intended to deflect that answer.

Basically the price tag of games is justified by the "huge development budgets they require". An issue when some are still screaming "foul play" over corrupt industry price setting that lead to a $10.00 price hike, when some people in the industry seem to want to try and squeeze even more money out of people in the base price, despite the insanity going on over DLC released at the same time as the game and such.

When you take something like the half a billion dollars that a game like Modern Warfare 2 cost, and then divide it evenly among even ten thousand coders and advertisers, your looking at what amounts to crazy bank. Oh sure that doesn't allow for the renting of office space, buying computers, etc... but even if you subtract a bit of money from each "cut" to cover that your still dealing with insanity.

Now people allege the coders don't get paychecks anything like this implies, rather it's the graphics people, who claim the exact same thing. In the end though the money is going somewhere. What's more it's not like a lot of these games are doing much that is actually seriously new. Modern Warfare 2 is a GOOD Game, but in the end it's just a decent FPS like many others before it. The Ads were okay, but nothing stupendous compared to other gamers meriting that cut of the money. Where did all of this go? Well the rising costs are doubtlessly due to people demanding more money (despire how it seems) and I also imagine this is also why companies like EA are cycling their employees.

So basically, when I hear about this bit at Rockstar all I can say is "cry me a river" since even allowing for "Crunch Time" these guys are probably carrying away so much money from these projects that it's ridiculous. I think it's either propaganda to try and counter "where does the money go?" questions, or maybe a sign that Rockstar employees are unusually stupid and despite other companies laying people off to save money, they figure they should be able to not only demand the massive fees, but also pressure the company for less work.

-

I'll also point out that there have been shows and such over the years about "nerd communities" for programmers and such. "Silicon Valley" sort of being the ancient stereotype. It isn't just hip hop artists and such that get to show off their places on "Cribs" and such. This is one of the reasons why I am so critical.

Truthfully I wouldn't be surprised if at some point we see even more anonymous "programmers" and "software developers" on shows like this. For all the whining some of the people involved here probably live in private communities, with pimped out sportscars, and all the other trappings we "knew" those computer nerds were going to get as their payoff despite being picked on a couple of decades ago. :P

I'm a big fan of capitolism and so on. People are welcome to what they can earn. However there is such a thing as responsibility and there is a point at which I feel it gets kind of ridiculous. Really, I think the industy as a whole is just getting too greedy and that starts with the coders and what they are doubtlessly demanding/getting.

I would imagine the lion's share goes to monolithic publishers who use it to recoup some of the loss from unsuccessful products and make massive, ridiculous purchases to become even bigger.

Therumancer:
**Snipped*

Not all coders are John Carmacks. In fact most coders are average employees just like any other. The only reason there are very wealthy coders is because they are most likely considered as being some of the best. Whether or not that's true doesn't matter.

It`s also very very rare to see famous coders rise up these days.

I'd also like to note that coders like Gabe Newell and Carmack actually own (or partially own) their respective companies which also gives them quite a bit of income...

SuperFriendBFG:

Therumancer:
**Snipped*

Not all coders are John Carmacks. In fact most coders are average employees just like any other. The only reason there are very wealthy coders is because they are most likely considered as being some of the best. Whether or not that's true doesn't matter.

It`s also very very rare to see famous coders rise up these days.

I'd also like to note that coders like Gabe Newell and Carmack actually own (or partially own) their respective companies which also gives them quite a bit of income...

I ramble, and have trouble being concise.

My problem with what your saying is simply that it makes no sense. Where are all of these massive piles of money going then? When your dealing with tens or hundreds of millions of dollars it's not all being eaten up by renting some cubicle space and buying a bunch of computers. A lot of the actual coding is already done in most games due to using engines like "Unreal" or whatever as the basis, and even if getting the rights to use those engines is expensive, it's not that expensive.

Basically since the only real "expense" is the employees, it means that all of that money is getting divvied up somehow between the coders, graphic artists, and everyone else. Nobody, including the artists is doing anything that I think justifies the amount of money they are being paid.

When questioned about game prices and such people in the industry ramble on about the number of employees and such, but even when dealing with a couple thousand people the budgets here are so overwhelmingly massive that the only possible solution to where that money is going is into the pockets of those human resources (which is pretty much what they say anyway).

Okay granted, maybe there is some fat cat at the top that is like say pocketing 50% off the top or something, but it doesn't seem likely, and even so that comes back to "how do we justify him pocketing this much, and passing the bill on to me?".

At any rate to finish the rambling, think of it this way. Someone budgets Modern Warfare 2. They spend a couple million dollars on renting cubicle space and buying a bunch of computers. Then they take the OTHER 498 million dollars and send it somewhere. Let's say you've got a thousand people in development, and a thousand people in marketing (both sides which had half the money)... the costs here might be high but not in proportion to THAT cash mountain, so it's all going into someone's pockets.

Even if you put a "mere" hundred million on each side to pay the people involved your still talking about each person walking off with a hundred thousand dollars sticking out of their back pocket... and that's less than half the bloody budget so chances are they are getting more than that.

I think the game took two years, so we're basically talking about these "poor oppressed employees" making $50k a year to write lines of code.

Not a proper analysis, but I mean think about stuff like this. Capitolism is fine, and I'm sure everyone wants to be paid as much as possible, but as a certain point I as the consumer am going to look at the price and go "WTF" since I'm the one they are expecting to cover this.

I think it's hard for anyone to take the IGDA seriously when they have an asshat like Tim Langdell sitting on their board.

Tim Langdell is no longer on the board.

And Therumancer, while wage scales in the game industry are by no means starvation-level, almost everyone involved could make more money doing something else (e.g., programmers could be working for banks, artists could be doing animation for TV commercials, etc).

2008 game developer salary survey here:
http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=23264

ike42:
I think it's hard for anyone to take the IGDA seriously when they have an asshat like Tim Langdell sitting on their board.

Exactly what I was thinking. I know that he's not on the board anymore, but the fact that he was tolerated for so long means I just can't take them seriously.

Therumancer:
I find this ironic since it seems like stories of this sort exist to make a counterpoint to what I (and a few others) have been alleging about "Celebrity Game developers", with points about how with budgets in the tens or hundreds of millions of dollars, where does all the money go when your pretty much dealing with money that goes towards labour.

It seems that now we're hearing about the "poor, oppressed, code monkey", but I still have to ask where all that money is going. Honestly I think I know the answer, and I SUSPECT schticks like this are intended to deflect that answer.

Basically the price tag of games is justified by the "huge development budgets they require". An issue when some are still screaming "foul play" over corrupt industry price setting that lead to a $10.00 price hike, when some people in the industry seem to want to try and squeeze even more money out of people in the base price, despite the insanity going on over DLC released at the same time as the game and such.

When you take something like the half a billion dollars that a game like Modern Warfare 2 cost, and then divide it evenly among even ten thousand coders and advertisers, your looking at what amounts to crazy bank. Oh sure that doesn't allow for the renting of office space, buying computers, etc... but even if you subtract a bit of money from each "cut" to cover that your still dealing with insanity.

Now people allege the coders don't get paychecks anything like this implies, rather it's the graphics people, who claim the exact same thing. In the end though the money is going somewhere. What's more it's not like a lot of these games are doing much that is actually seriously new. Modern Warfare 2 is a GOOD Game, but in the end it's just a decent FPS like many others before it. The Ads were okay, but nothing stupendous compared to other gamers meriting that cut of the money. Where did all of this go? Well the rising costs are doubtlessly due to people demanding more money (despire how it seems) and I also imagine this is also why companies like EA are cycling their employees.

So basically, when I hear about this bit at Rockstar all I can say is "cry me a river" since even allowing for "Crunch Time" these guys are probably carrying away so much money from these projects that it's ridiculous. I think it's either propaganda to try and counter "where does the money go?" questions, or maybe a sign that Rockstar employees are unusually stupid and despite other companies laying people off to save money, they figure they should be able to not only demand the massive fees, but also pressure the company for less work.

-

I'll also point out that there have been shows and such over the years about "nerd communities" for programmers and such. "Silicon Valley" sort of being the ancient stereotype. It isn't just hip hop artists and such that get to show off their places on "Cribs" and such. This is one of the reasons why I am so critical.

Truthfully I wouldn't be surprised if at some point we see even more anonymous "programmers" and "software developers" on shows like this. For all the whining some of the people involved here probably live in private communities, with pimped out sportscars, and all the other trappings we "knew" those computer nerds were going to get as their payoff despite being picked on a couple of decades ago. :P

I'm a big fan of capitolism and so on. People are welcome to what they can earn. However there is such a thing as responsibility and there is a point at which I feel it gets kind of ridiculous. Really, I think the industy as a whole is just getting too greedy and that starts with the coders and what they are doubtlessly demanding/getting.

The money doesn't go to ANY of the producition team, it goes to the executives. Bet your ass. Take a look at any other large corporation screwing us.

Therumancer:

SuperFriendBFG:

Therumancer:
**Snipped*

Not all coders are John Carmacks. In fact most coders are average employees just like any other. The only reason there are very wealthy coders is because they are most likely considered as being some of the best. Whether or not that's true doesn't matter.

It`s also very very rare to see famous coders rise up these days.

I'd also like to note that coders like Gabe Newell and Carmack actually own (or partially own) their respective companies which also gives them quite a bit of income...

I ramble, and have trouble being concise.

My problem with what your saying is simply that it makes no sense. Where are all of these massive piles of money going then? When your dealing with tens or hundreds of millions of dollars it's not all being eaten up by renting some cubicle space and buying a bunch of computers. A lot of the actual coding is already done in most games due to using engines like "Unreal" or whatever as the basis, and even if getting the rights to use those engines is expensive, it's not that expensive.

Basically since the only real "expense" is the employees, it means that all of that money is getting divvied up somehow between the coders, graphic artists, and everyone else. Nobody, including the artists is doing anything that I think justifies the amount of money they are being paid.

When questioned about game prices and such people in the industry ramble on about the number of employees and such, but even when dealing with a couple thousand people the budgets here are so overwhelmingly massive that the only possible solution to where that money is going is into the pockets of those human resources (which is pretty much what they say anyway).

Okay granted, maybe there is some fat cat at the top that is like say pocketing 50% off the top or something, but it doesn't seem likely, and even so that comes back to "how do we justify him pocketing this much, and passing the bill on to me?".

At any rate to finish the rambling, think of it this way. Someone budgets Modern Warfare 2. They spend a couple million dollars on renting cubicle space and buying a bunch of computers. Then they take the OTHER 498 million dollars and send it somewhere. Let's say you've got a thousand people in development, and a thousand people in marketing (both sides which had half the money)... the costs here might be high but not in proportion to THAT cash mountain, so it's all going into someone's pockets.

Even if you put a "mere" hundred million on each side to pay the people involved your still talking about each person walking off with a hundred thousand dollars sticking out of their back pocket... and that's less than half the bloody budget so chances are they are getting more than that.

I think the game took two years, so we're basically talking about these "poor oppressed employees" making $50k a year to write lines of code.

Not a proper analysis, but I mean think about stuff like this. Capitolism is fine, and I'm sure everyone wants to be paid as much as possible, but as a certain point I as the consumer am going to look at the price and go "WTF" since I'm the one they are expecting to cover this.

Ahem. let's have a look at this claim you're making...
Most expensive game I know of:

GTA 4. - It cost $100 million to make.
http://ve3d.ign.com/articles/news/38395/GTA-4-Cost-100M-To-Make

Here's a list of the complete credits for everyone that worked on it:
http://www.mobygames.com/game/windows/grand-theft-auto-iv/credits

Now, a quick estimate of that list shows at a rough guess 400 or so people.
The other article I linked to says 1000.
About half of these are actors and/or the credits for music in the game (and it's already well established how bad the music and acting professions can get with money.)

I'd say a huge chunk of the budget goes just to all the voice actors and licensed music.

But, even then, consider, 100,000,000 among 1000 people averages 100,000 per person, over however long it took to make.
Considering that it most likely took more than 1 year to make, it could be a lot less than that.

Edit:Oh, and before I forget, for a typical contract, the game development company will only get 10% of the profits from their publisher, and the development cost is given as an 'advance'.

That means, if you develop a game and it earns, say, $20 million, you get $2 million out of it.
But only after you've paid back the publisher whatever they gave you in advance.
If that was $2 million, you get nothing extra, even though the publisher gained $18 million from it...

Is that a lot? Yes it is. But in context, it should be remembered that 70 work weeks are 'normal' in the game development industy. the 'crunch' mode people talk about is when it gets into the 90 to 120 hours or more a week...

Then there is the undeniable fact that whatever you think of it, game industry workers are underpaid for their profession.
They typically earn only 70% of the wages in a comparable job working for say, a bank, normal software developer, advertising company, film special effects company, etc.

Taking this in conjunction with the hours they work, it'd be very callous to say to someone working much longer hours, and earning less than their counterparts in related industries that they themselves could be working in if they chose to, that they are overpaid.

What's your line of work?
How much do you get for it?

How would you feel if you knew that you worked almost twice as many hours, for 70% of the pay of someone with the same skills as you, and were then told that you don't deserve even that?

I had to laugh last time someone argued your position. I doubt it was you, but it was funny to hear someone say they were a lawyer, and then argue that game developers were overpaid...

TsunamiWombat:

Therumancer:
*snip*

The money doesn't go to ANY of the producition team, it goes to the executives. Bet your ass. Take a look at any other large corporation screwing us.

This. In most corporations it's the executives who get the most of the money, not the ones who put the work in to develop the products.

 

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