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Working in the Gaming Industry (Part I)

The following is a series of anonymous feature blogs which have been written by a former member of the sports video games industry who wishes to remain anonymous. We have verified proof this individual is who they say they were and did work at a major publisher.

 

So you want to work in the video game industry?

Working in the video games industry is the goal of a lot of gamers, casual and hardcore alike. What seems better than turning your passion into a paycheck?

This was my mindset, and even though I had very little industry experience, I was determined to find a way in at a full-time capacity. I figured in an industry worth over $10 billion, and there had to be room for me.

I had been gaming since the days of the Atari 2600, and game as much today as I did back in the days of  Pitfall and River Raid. As one gets older, the idea of turning one’s passion into gainful employment is an opportunity that rarely presents itself. You have to network and create relationships, and perseverance will need to become a lifestyle, not just an attribute one possesses inside.

There is a multitude of ways that one can work in the industry, from developer, to designer, marketing and advertisement, the amount of jobs the gaming industry creates is a vast one, but video games still one of the hardest industries to be a part of. Do you want to work for a publisher, a developer, a marketing company? The choices seem endless, and one needs to truly understand where their talents lie, and then choose a path that offers the best chance at success.

I chose the field I felt best suited my talents and experience, and proceeded to accept a position with a large company. As you can imagine, my level of excitement was through the roof and I was ready to revolutionize the industry. The excitement lasted for about 2 weeks, as I realized that my job responsibility was less about what I wanted to do and was seemingly brought on to do, and more about doing what I was told to do, so it would reflect upon the company in a positive way.


"While toeing the company line is not necessarily a bad thing, it can be a very hard thing to follow through on when you know the customer base is the group being neglected..."

I had heard stories before I joined the industry about the level of corporate involvement, and how it will almost always supersede that of  employee creativity, well I am here to tell you, those stories are true. While my expression of ideas were never frowned upon, it was always about keeping the investors happy and most decisions were based off of that singular idea.  

While toeing the company line is not necessarily a bad thing, it can be a very hard thing to follow through on when you know the customer base is the group being neglected by some of your decisions. It’s even harder when the “gamer” in you still lives, and you remember what it was like on the other side in the world of retail consumption and expectation.  It wasn’t just myself who had these feelings, and I feel comfortable saying the majority of people I worked with felt the same. People who make these games are passionate and dedicated, they are just bit by hard reality when the time comes to plan out how to maximize investor dollars.

While I am not trying to give the impression that corporate suits sit around the conference table tapping their fingers together, and discuss world domination, it’s not far from that imagery when you really get down to it. It was not very long before I started to understand the inner workings of a major publisher and developer and its minds, which led to continued conflict within me both personally and with my peers.

Part II of this series is coming soon!


Member Comments
# 1 ubernoob @ 04/09/13 09:48 AM
Looking forward to the series. Enjoyable read and thanks for the sharing. Curious as to how you will say lines up with what some of my other friends say.
 
# 2 DGMikeBarker @ 04/09/13 10:56 AM
Can't wait for part II
 
# 3 JayMizzle @ 04/09/13 11:05 AM
Sounds like its not a walk in the park for employees thus far.
 
# 4 onac22 @ 04/09/13 11:57 AM
Corporate A**HOles are ruingin all business. A forklift driver is monitored and given time limits to accomplish moves in a warehouse while the suit monitors even bathroom breaks. Dr's are now told by "administrators" how many patients they have to see a day. Corporate administrators for profit are ruining the American workers rights. "businesspeople" that only have degrees in business, don't see the people involved because they are never tought ethics or morals anymore. Those values are seen as weak. Corporations have ruined America.
We are now the "United States of America inc. property Halliburton co."
 
# 5 Craigsca @ 04/09/13 12:05 PM
"it can be a very hard thing to follow through on when you know the customer base is the group being neglected by some of your decisions. It’s even harder when the “gamer” in you still lives, and you remember what it was like on the other side in the world of retail consumption and expectation."

So, can you give an example of this? If you're still working for the company I can understand the need to be less than specific, but can you give us an idea of a particular instance where you had to neglect the customer base?

Not to cast aspersions, but the first installment doesn't really SAY anything. Frankly, it sounds more like a brief overview of what's been heard before. I'd love to hear what really is happening behind closed doors.
 
# 6 Bengals28 @ 04/09/13 12:57 PM
Ian Cummings is that you?
 
# 7 Bamanutt @ 04/09/13 01:50 PM
Not really a surprise.

Really interested in seeing how this plays out though as I'm that guy too. I still own all 3 Atari's, sega's & much more, & have often thought about how I could turn my passion for games & gaming into $$$, without returning to school.
 
# 8 Trick13 @ 04/09/13 03:57 PM
Interesting, not surprising at all, but it does confirm what many have postulated for years. I just wonder if those same suits were somehow exposed to the gripes and complaints of message boards like OS, would anything change.
If I owned stock in a gaming company, I would want them focused on customer satisfaction because the bottom line will almost always follow "suit".
Madden, for instance, is becoming a dead game with my peer group. I am 36 and most of the guys who used to play frequently do not even buy the game anymore. Maybe just maybe, we as gamers need to form an investment group and turn this on its head...
 
# 9 chi_hawks @ 04/09/13 04:10 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bengals28
Ian Cummings is that you?
My thoughts exactly!
 
# 10 Feldman011teen @ 04/09/13 06:15 PM
In June 2011, I applied for examiner.com to be a video game journalist with no experience other than putting up reviews on metacritic and having an espn blog. I got paid very little based on hits, but used my resourses such as N4G and reddit and other social networking to build a following. After about six months, I started reaching out to PR companies about review copies of games. The first free game I received was NCAA 13. Could not believe it. Soon Madden, and others followed. I was hired for gamingtruth.com about a month ago to contribute there as well. You just have to follow through and be dedicated, no matter how slow it starts. Eventually, you can amount to something if you're good at what you do. It helps I know how to write, however I have crappy grammar at times.
 
# 11 martinez4723 @ 04/09/13 07:21 PM
sweet article. I wish I could contribute to the video game world.
 
# 12 Jimbo614 @ 04/09/13 07:25 PM
I appreciate this article. However, so far, we could be talking about ANY occupation where creative personel come into conflict with the suits in corporate.. Just go watch" Private Parts".. perfect example.
 
# 13 SloeyEZ @ 04/09/13 07:28 PM
I know who it is.
 
# 14 BreaksoftheGame @ 04/09/13 08:12 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimbo614
I appreciate this article. However, so far, we could be talking about ANY occupation where creative personel come into conflict with the suits in corporate.. Just go watch" Private Parts".. perfect example.
Agreed. The stock market rules us all, every occupation.
 
# 15 wisdom less13 @ 04/09/13 09:05 PM
Let me get a job.
 
# 16 TreyIM2 @ 04/10/13 06:29 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trick13
Interesting, not surprising at all, but it does confirm what many have postulated for years. I just wonder if those same suits were somehow exposed to the gripes and complaints of message boards like OS, would anything change.
If I owned stock in a gaming company, I would want them focused on customer satisfaction because the bottom line will almost always follow "suit".
Madden, for instance, is becoming a dead game with my peer group. I am 36 and most of the guys who used to play frequently do not even buy the game anymore. Maybe just maybe, we as gamers need to form an investment group and turn this on its head...
That's what I started to write up here yesterday. It seems to be very easy for suits to lose a connection with the consumer, if they ever really had it to begin with. There's a lot to what goes on between the top of a company, the bottom of a company and the consumer. Sometimes things get "lost in translation" (oooh, Scar Jo, I love u! Heh).
I think EA, as an example (Ian, Ian?), is finally starting to get it. 2K has taken what EA started and run with it. They may have had to bag a few franchises (bottomlines can do that to u) but the blue print of being true to the sport your recreating comes first and foremost then throw in a ton of the little things satisfies the sports gaming consumer.
 
# 17 KANE699 @ 04/10/13 05:58 PM
You know its weird, for you it only took 2 weeks for me it took about 2 years for me to really get to a point of discontent.

There are a lot of things that can make the job enjoyable and then there are the company politics or general this person playing favorites over that person stuff that just causes a real bad taste in your mouth, I still want to work on the stuff I love but I just wonder if there is a company out there that will let me help them without screwing me over.
 
# 18 Valdarez @ 04/26/13 08:58 PM
This is supposedly an older person who is somehow surprised at the idea that the business is driven by monetary concern? Business exist for one reason, and one reason only, to make money. That's true for every business, even gaming ones.
 

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