It's very well say to say that identifying the core issues will help, but I honestly think this has been gone over to death. People have said a lot on this (and frankly, the IGDA's inability to get a QoL document out there speaks volumes to me), the time to stop worrying about before-the-fact buy in from studio heads compared with going ahead and making the company has to come.
I'm pretty sure you're thinking of Best Buy here (well, maybe Netflix
does it, but I know BB is the poster child). They call it a
"results-only work environment" and wrote about it in the book Why Work
Sucks and How To Fix It. It works as you describe and was a great read:
There's also a pair of books by Ricardo Semler. He was the CEO of Semco,
a manufacturing firm in Brazil that has diversified into a number of
areas. Employees are given very direct control over their work days
(even extending to assembly-line employees choosing their schedules) and
overall company direction.
I got a lot about work-life balance out of these two books. I have
personally seen how flexible hours and telecommuting can work well for
creative professionals (eg. designers, coders) but had assumed that work
that had hourly staffing requirements (eg. customer support) would have
to have traditional management and scheduling. After Semler's book, I
think it's at least worth an experiment: make sure employees have the
data management would themselves use in scheduling and understand how
their performance will be measured and judged. And then take your hands
off, let employees pick their hours and practices. I'm not sure it would
work, but now I think it's worth the experiment.
There is a real difference between choosing or advocating a style of management & operation than basic standards for treatment of workers.
If you are proposing a business structure for your own studio and want comments, that is very different from challenging the IGDA's Quality of Life activities (or lack thereof).
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The IGDA has been really looking at it in what I consider a very
hopeful (and perhaps naive) "if we build it, then they will come" kind
of way, by assuming that if they invent some guidelines that would
benefit workers then this will be gradually adopted.
Why would that ever happen?
If the workers could go around happily adopting such things, why would
they need to wait for the IGDA to come along and tell them what to
I applauded the efforts, and hoped they'd work, and that I was being
too judgemental and negative. It seems not, at least for now.
I've spent a lot of time talking with people over the past 3 years who
preach a highly optimistic view of organizational culture and mutual
respect between individuals; the problem I saw over and over again was
that there wasn't enough in it for the company for any company (bar
the occasional very rare exception) to adopt it.
And the biggest problem with that is one that I think many of us have
seen: if the company culture is incompatible with a new incoming
management team, it's generally the culture that loses; the CEO
doesn't usually send round an email one day saying:
"Hey, guys, you're all nuts, and I don't really benefit enough
personally from your culture, so rather than try to impose something
on you all, I'm just going to hand in my resignation today, and let
you get on with your happy lives".
So ... I've been looking for overall systems for a company that both
"encompass" the code of conduct stuff but also "depend upon" it. It's
a lot harder to destroy a culture if it's intimately wound in to how
and what the company does.
(obviously, many cultures are already wound in like that - but it's
rarely made explicit WHERE and HOW the culture and company intertwine)
> If you are proposing a business structure for your own studio and want comments, that is very different from challenging the IGDA's Quality of Life activities (or lack thereof).
I'm not sure I understand what you're saying here. To my mind, this
advances the QoL stuff, by saying: OK, let's stop talking about this
stuff (because the IGDA's talk so far has failed even to persuade it's
own board members) and just go out and do it, and everyone can see
what happens, rather than arguing over what might happen.
To my mind, this advances the QoL stuff, by saying: OK, let's stop talking about this stuff (because the IGDA's talk so far has failed even to persuade it's own board members) and just go out and do it, and everyone can see what happens, rather than arguing over what might happen.
Yes, I particularly liked your point about how showing the working
would make it a lot more digestible for a lot of people.
> we need to keep in mind the audience we're doing this work for.
> Nobody in this group, as far as I know, is of the "fuck 'em if they
> can't work 60+ hours per week" camp, so we shouldn't be writing this
> for ourselves. The people we need to be writing this for are people
I think there's several different audiences, and I'm not sure if we
need a separate doc for each.
From the many comments so far, it seems that a lot of people would
like to know a lot more about the reasoning. Logically, this is the
first step. But ... presentationally, I suspect it's still the
secondary, lesser step.
Certainly, talking to investors, I would expect to (and in some small
cases already have) just show them the final doc and say "any
objections?" to which the answers were "no, that looks cool (as much
as I care to read it)". NB: I was using a much simplified version then
as well, essentially just the section headings, with most of the
bullet points missing.
I fear that this is turning in to a two sided battle: Employer vs
Employee. I however think that there is a third and more important
side to it: Creativity.
Back in the day the Directors Guild had fought the studios to always
have the director credit up front at the beginning of the film, and
not stuck at the end when everyone had left the theater. Back when
George Lucas was making star wars, He didn't want any credits to
disrupt the start of the film, so he got in to a dispute with the DGA
and in the end was forced to pay a 10.000$ fine and subsequently left
the guild. The people who had set up rules to protect directors, ended
up invading their creativity.
Normally leaving the guild would mean you wouldn't work again, but
there was one thing that assured that George would work again: Star
Wars. He was able to fund and produce sequels all by him self, and
even if he wouldn't have been he was showered with offers. (Lucas
later remarked that the only way to direct a film and be able to be
home at 6 to be with his kids was, to fund it out of his own pocket)
I dislike corporate over lords, crazy hours, dick producers, market
researchers, and companies controlled by quarter reports just as much
as the next guy. But you know what? Life is too short to argue with
them. If your life sucks do something about it, quit, or stop being
bothered by it. Don't accept the premise of their argument: that game
development is a business. To them it may be, but to you its your
Personally I'm taking control over the situation. I'm making my own
game and no one can tell me what or how to do it. If i succeed i will
be able to start my own studio and do things my way. Is it hard? Sure
it is (Lucas had a mild heart attack during the making of Star wars),
but its my choice. I would rather take control over the situation then
battle with people who don't share my vision at some company.
In a way i do respect the companies who are doing all that, because
that's what they want to do. They want to be money making machines. I
don't, but they should be free to do what they want. Knowing how hard
it is to do something from scratch they have earned the right to do it
their way, as long as they don't hurt bystanders. You cant join Lucas
film and tell Lucas he shouldn't do Jar-Jar because you will loose
that argument. Its his dream not yours. Did you get a heart attack
during the making of starwars? No? then I guess we will have some
Lucas film is completely non-unionized, yet people would kill to get a
job there. In fact many similar "outside the system" shops have popped
up in the film industry, like Pixar, Robert Rodriguez troublemaker
studios, Peter Jackson or wingnut films / Weta. The funny thing of
course is that the Hollywood guilds are not being challenged by
capitalists, but by artists who see them as anti creativity.
If you take a job at a company you are signing an agreement, If you
don't like the agreement have it changed or don't sign it. Remember
that you shouldn't audition for a job as much much as they should
audition as an employer. I have a little bit of a hard time feeling
sorry for people bitching about a job, they have signed on to, that
they can leave at any time and hoards of people would kill for. If
there is something i cant stand where i work, i go talk to them about
it, if they are not willing to change then ill quit, I don't think I
will be pointing to some union manifesto that i didn't write, wasn't
written with my particular situation in mind and is full of stuff i
don't care about.
Treating each other right is important, but all relations in the game
industry are volontary, i have no interest in "the the industry
growing up", there are lots of grown up industries to join if you
want. I want to work in a place that isn't rigid. If they are employer
made rules or employee made rules that make the industry rigid doesn't
matter that much.
Erik Bethke posted a response (about perceived illegality of the core
principles, but read the comments), but at the end made a good point
"At the end of the day, like anything this is a marketing problem.
You need to find someone with the cash to fund the company who
believes that they will make more money by sharing this manifesto."
For a long time I fretted about "what would happen if investors found
out?", but ultimately I realised it was the same issue as "what would
happen if potential staff found out?".
They would either see that this works for me, and go along with it, or
feel it would be against them, and walk away.
Which, in fact, is perfect. Of all the problems that cause budding
startups to fail, "acrimony among the staff" / "fundamental
disagreements between shareholders and executives" are two of the most
lethal, hardest to deal with - and yet sadly all too common.
I've heard it said many times that you should choose your co-founders
in a startup more carefully than you choose your spouse: for the next
few years you'll be spending more time with them and trusting them
with more of your life (finances, legal liabilities, external
representation, etc) than you would the person you marry. If that's
even vaguely true (IME it's a damn good idea, but it's also extremely
difficult to do) then you should be as up-front as possible with each
of shareholders, employees, managers, etc.
All of this talk of business investors understanding / not understanding what is going on with the businesses they invest in really makes me wonder why people just settle with investors that have no knowledge of what they're investing in. I mean, to me it makes sense to find an investor that understands the gaming industry, the desire to be creative or even revolutionary in your drive and, while maybe not being completely hands off, will submit to the company to have the control necessary to make great games and not just ride the coattails of other ideas from successful companies.
Hopefully we can all admit that the gaming industry at large needs some reform in many areas, a lot of which fall in the design aspect. There need to be new ideas, ideas that actually differ from cash cows like World of Warcraft and similar 800 lb gorillas. Problem is, very few people want to put their money in ideas that go against the grain. Innovation and revolution is stifled in this aspect and to me, if I'm reading the last few messages correctly, that stifling begins with taking money from people who A: don't understand what's going on in the gaming industry and B: want total control over all aspects including the creative design aspects so the produced games function like the current money makers.
We need to get away from investors like that. We need funding from somewhere that doesn't need their fingers dipped in the creative process, where innovation can thrive and new things can be designed and released. It may not work the first time or the second time, but eventually new ideas will win people over and new games will be designed that get off the track of just following those who've made money in the past.
No one will make another WoW. Not even Blizzard. There HAS to be something new and innovative. Unfortunately, few people have the balls to accept failure before success.