Because We’re reaching a point where digital game development is at least 40 years and counting – 60 years if you count Spacewar! – I think it’s time to acknowledge that the games industry can no longer be considered to be young.
An argument that I hear quite a bit when it comes to game development is that it is unreasonable to make demands on it, because it such a “young” industry. This pops up when I criticize the lack of production frameworks or when there are no processes in the place to deal with aspects of development. We can’t expect game devs to just work like any other job! It’s such a young industry!.
I beg to differ. What it is though, is an immature industry.
I’m speculating now, naturally, but part of that I believe comes from the very male dominated origins of the games industry. We deal both with technology, which is an area of industry that men have gatekept fervently, and games, which is also an area of industry that men have laid claim on and are very eager to keep to themselves.
There’s also this gung ho, lawless attitude that makes it hard to impose any kind of structure on game development. I’m not entirely certain where it comes from but I believe it may have to do with the belief that you can’t be creative on demand, and that “fencing creativity in” by placing it within a framework and a process will kill it.
The freedom to create, garage development, doing what you want, being a rockstar, a ninja, a superstar, all those aspects of game development clash against a structured and organised way of working.
The general attitude of working with an audience of one – oneself – is also not very helpful in this context. “Making games for me” means that a definition of done is fluid. How do I know when something is done? I’ll know it when I see it.
Considering that many other industries, both creative and not, are capable of using processes to their advantage, I don’t see why game dev shouldn’t. But I do see – on a daily basis for 22 years now – a reluctance to use any tools that would help make game dev a more efficient process. No thank you! We are rebels! Game dev is hard! We don’t need no stinking documentation! It only gets in the way. A definition of done? No, we’ll know it when we see it. Focusing on player segments? No, I’m the player!
To be honest I find it somewhat unprofessional and as I said previously, immature.
We can do so much better.
The question is, why aren’t we?