My co-workers and former colleagues can attest to the fact that I often go on rants about the games industry. This is not because I dislike the industry or want to cancel games or because I have a feminist agenda with everything I do (although I do). I go on rants because I think we can do so much better.
Project managemen? Yes, we can do better. We can look at other software producing industries and adapt to more modern ways of doing things. Those of you who believe that we’re unable to adapt, to you I say “nonsense”. I’m pretty sure we could adopt good frameworks and stable production processes. If we wanted to.
There is however still this idea floating around that games are “special” and that frameworks and processes hamper the creative geniuses working in the industry. I believe the opposite. I believe that frameworks and processes help in aiding creativity.
What they do hem in though, is random ideas, derailing production because someone had a “burst of creativity” and now want to change the entire game, as well as random pivots based on the latest game releases from competing studios. Process and framework protects us, especially it protects those of us working on the ground level, who are unable to protect ourselves from the “next big idea”.
Another aspect of game development that I often rant about are the promotion ceilings that seem to hit women as soon as they reach the level of senior. Instead of raising women up, companies stall them. I know this is probably just as true for other marginalised groups within gaming, and honestly this is one of the more sucky aspects of development.
Maybe they’re right about me specifically, maybe I’m not good enough, but they’re not right about all of us.
I know truly competent people who have stalled out at senior, and I know less competent people who have schmoozed their way upwards. Guess gender and ethnicity?
Inclusion and diversity is still miserably bad in this industry and even if companies keep promising improvements, I feel we are stalled. The industry needs people, and yet…
My recommendation would be to start hiring people from outside the industry. We don’t know everything, living inside it. One of the biggest changes for me when starting at my current company was the lack of old industry fiends on my team. This is what I’ve noticed in connection with this:
- An openness to fixing things that do not work instead of relying on “tried and tested” methods and resigning to awkward workflows.
- A willingness to increase efficiency by building reusable systems.
- Questioning tools and engines. The tools we have are lagging behind other industries, possibly because we tend to focus on the wrong things.
- Using data to design. Many game devs in triple-A have a tendency to only make games for themselves. Mobile is further ahead in this area.
- None of the elitism game devs often display.
- None of the built in contempt agains women. Yes, it’s a thing.
We need fresh eyes. We need clear ideas and we need a renewal or triple-A won’t survive. We can become more efficient. I know it. The question is – are we willing to try?