Stability in the game industry worry

polycounter lvl 6
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aajohnny polycounter lvl 6
Hey,
I was just looking at the post on "Buy or rent a house" and somebody posted this article http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18406129/ns/technology_and_science-games/t/sure-its-cool-job-do-games-pay/

I read it and I did notice 2007 was the date of the article, but I still hear the same things today like "You'll get sick of the industry" "You work all the time and have no time for family" "You may get paid decent, but the cost of living is a lot" and it kind of worries me.

I am only 18, but I tend to think ahead, and get paranoid, but I have been doing 3d art for years now and I tend to model sometimes even 10-17 hrs a day (in the summer) without pay.The only thing that worries me is the stability. I always hear stories of people getting booted out he door and artists staying at studios for 3-4 years then finding a new one. I will just be worried about my family, but I guess I gotta do what I gotta do if thats the case.

Before you say "This industry isn't for you" your wrong, because I love doing what I do and I feel I am being called to do this, but what advice is there for a backup plan that can make some money? I am majoring in graphic design, so I guess that could be my backup.

Here are my questions (sorry for the long read above)

- Is the industry really that unstable?
- Are paying indie studios more stable then large AAA studios?
- Is the cost of living really low, because of the area?
- Are the hours really that bad that I can't spend much with my family?

Once again, sorry about the long text above, but I wanted to give as much information as I could so you could get a better grasp on the situation, and maybe someone else here is going through the same thing.

Thanks

Replies

  • slipsius
    from the looks of it, smaller studios are more stable. kids studios are even more so. so as long as you dont mind working on kids games, you`re set. that being said, EVERY industry has lay offs. and always will.

    The best thing you could do is save while you have a job for the times when you might not. also, you could try your hand at freelance. get a good enough rep and you`ll be fiiiine
  • glenatron
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    glenatron polycounter lvl 7
    There seems to be a trend of larger companies exploding into loads of small startup studios recently, so jobs are appearing as much as disappearing.

    Some places are mega expensive to live, because most studios try to set up in catchment areas, around large cities, but wages are good once youv'e gone through the obligatory few years of graduate/junior pay.

    And hours are wierd, it seems like some people work bitch-loads, like 60+ a week, maybe more when they crunch, and then others (myself included) do normal office hours (35-40) a week, and don't seem to crunch. I guess it's all about where you end up.
  • [HP]
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    [HP] polycounter lvl 10
    Dude, you're young. Just do what you're enjoy doing, and pursue your dreams. The industry as it stands today, maybe be totally different in 10 years do don't be paranoid over this stuff.

    And yes, it depends on the studio and yourself.
  • SHEPEIRO
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    SHEPEIRO polycounter lvl 10
    I am only 18...tits and beer...tits and beer....tits and beer

    and yes the industry will change and it alll depends on what you make of it
  • Mark Dygert
    I've been at the same place since 2006, super stable, great pay and we hardly work over a 40hr week and crunch is a few days every 3-6mo. I've got a wife and a daughter and the job doesn't impact the time I spend with my family at all. But then again I'd give up the industry if it became unstable for me.

    I'd go back to doing what I did before joining the industry, working in print. I'd do this in my spare time and love it. There certainly is more creative freedom is doing this as a hobby. Even on giant AAA titles the work needs to get done and there will be things you have to do on deadlines you don't like, that's just how it goes.
  • System
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    System admin
    I really like that final paragraph, vig! <3
  • aajohnny
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    aajohnny polycounter lvl 6
    Thanks guys that does make me feel better.
  • JDinges
    Don't worry! I have 3 kids, make good money and love my job. Yes this industry can be hell sometimes - layoffs and crunch. But ultimately it's a viable career, you just have to work hard at it.

    The cost of living of some industry areas is too high, California for example, which is why I've never looked for a job there. But then you have some VERY affordable areas like Texas and to a lesser degree Washington.

    I have 3 kids, I work a lot. I learn to balance family and work. Just be disciplined in both.

    Enjoy life :)
  • JacqueChoi
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    JacqueChoi greentooth
    It's the tech industry.

    In someways its unstable, or you could simply say in some ways its ever-evolving.

    If you keep up with the times, then you're stable. If your skills and knowledge become an obsolete, chances are you won't last long.
  • Justin Meisse
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    Justin Meisse polycounter lvl 13
    the cost of living in Austin is pretty low :)
  • Wahlgren
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    Wahlgren polycounter lvl 10
    DUde. Do whatever the hell makes you happy. So what if the industry goes tits up. You were having awesome fun all the way to the end. Do you wanna live your life bored out of your skull? :(

    There's always something else you can do if it doesnt work out! :)


    As for Shepeiro he raises an interesting point. Tits and beer!
  • danshewan
    Stability in any industry, aside from some government positions and agencies, is an illusion. Shit, even the Japanese abandoned the notion of corporate loyalty years ago.

    Don't worry about it. Also, tits and beer.
  • Mark Dygert
    Hey hey, just because you get older doesn't mean you give up the tits and beer. The only difference is you get a "live in" pair of tits that brings you beer as you get older...
  • Jeremy Lindstrom
    <-- I didn't want to move for jobs every couple years. I know too many people that have continously moved for the jobs in the industry. I want to set down roots, so I went back to IT. I now play games purely for my enjoyment and do art in my free time.

    I guess, you can say I was one of those that couldn't hack it.. I got burnt out creating and trying to pull my team along, we had poor management, artists that didn't want to pull their weight and it was all pulling me down, and here in Dallas their aren't many other oppurtunities for games, so I went back to IT.

    Your mileage may vary, but the last article I remember reading there's a good reason the average video game employee lasts about 5 years in the industry.
  • Target_Renegade
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    Target_Renegade polycounter
    You don't have to do 3D in just the games industry, there are many other industries. Broaden in skills that are related and keep going.
  • seforin
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    seforin polycounter lvl 10
    I hate to come in here and be "that guy" But I'll just say that this industry isnt all sunshine and rainbows and it will knock you down if your not strong enough to stand for yourself.


    I rather not go into it for the "polycount is not your blog" excuse. But I'll just say the worries you are having your age are the worries I have now at the age of 26....I hear it gets better though so im roughing it out myself...state of mind, goes a long way
  • cman2k
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    cman2k polycounter lvl 11
    tits and beer and wives and kids and games and KICKASS!

    You'll never be happy unless you are pursuing your dreams man. Unless your dreams change, you don't really have much of a choice. Don't let yourself end up in a position where you regret never having tried to reach your goals and live your dream.

    There's been a ton of great advice here already. There are good stories and bad stories. No one can tell you what your story is going to be, you gotta find out for yourself. So take a deep breath and dive in, dude.
  • [HP]
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    [HP] polycounter lvl 10
    Hey hey, just because you get older doesn't mean you give up the tits and beer. The only difference is you get a "live in" pair of tits that brings you beer as you get older...

    ah ah ah, i need to put this on a tshirt
  • Jason Young
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    Jason Young polycounter lvl 8
    The better you are, the more stable it is.
  • dejawolf
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    dejawolf polycounter lvl 11
    been at my job since 2003. working for a small company(less than 10 employees)
    the pay is decent, and i get to work whenever i want.
  • Autocon
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    Autocon polycounter lvl 9
    If you want stability in your job, aim for a company working on a project that seems annualizable. :)
  • Kwramm
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    Kwramm greentooth
    aajohnny wrote: »
    Here are my questions (sorry for the long read above)

    - Is the industry really that unstable?
    - Are paying indie studios more stable then large AAA studios?
    - Is the cost of living really low, because of the area?
    - Are the hours really that bad that I can't spend much with my family?

    My personal experience:
    1) not more unstable than many other jobs offered by big corps who treat people as human "resources" and not as human beings. There's many other industries where it's similar.

    2) depends on the studio and their projects

    4) depends on the studio, your position, the work ethic in your country/area, your luck. The crunch horror stories I hear seem to come mostly from US based people. But maybe that's just because most studios are in the US. Personally I've always been lucky and had regular work times.

    Then again, the games industry is not the only industry where you can have long hours. You can hear whining from engineers, architects, people in ad agencies, etc. We tend to think it's only us, the people in games, because we mostly hear from other people in games, but the truth is, there's many jobs with "crunch".
  • Jeremy Lindstrom
    There fixed if for you.. oh and cool man nice to meet ya.. nice they got some more teachers at IADT, got my BFA from there and wasn't worth the 80k+ I spent on it. :poly118: Terrible, terrible school. I hope you are changing things up over there. :poly121: I was trying to change things while I was a student but they just wanted asses in the seats they didn't care about anything else.
    JMYoung wrote: »
    The better you are, the more stable it is if you are in a state/location where there are plenty of jobs, if not you will just be putting out resume's against veterans with 5+ years experience from other companies that have already closed shop and let their staff go.
  • Joshua Stubbles
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    Joshua Stubbles polycounter lvl 12
    I've been at this for 10yrs and it's always been back and forth. It's just been a little worse since our market tumbled. If you want security, aim for a smaller studio with a lot of successful shipped product. Even still, the stability is an illusion. You or the studio can drop at any time.

    If you're in this industry, you have to roll with the punches as they're given. You don't always get the chance to plan ahead.
  • aajohnny
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    aajohnny polycounter lvl 6
    Thanks for the kind answers and advice guys :)
  • Progg
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    Progg polycounter lvl 8
    + 1 for Justin's comment. Austin is a fantastic city and the rent isn't bad at all. The pay is great too.
  • aajohnny
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    aajohnny polycounter lvl 6
    What studios are in Austin other then Bioware?
  • Progg
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    Progg polycounter lvl 8
    Vigil Games, Edge of Reality, Retro, Red Fly, Junction Point, Certain Affinity
  • Dudestein
    There inlies the potential problem with Texas. Yeah cost of living is low, but there aren't many studios there either. People always rattle off the same half dozen company names when the question gets asked. California COL is pretty gnarly, especially in the industry hubs (LA and San Fran), but there are a grip of companies, so you have more options and if you get laid off your chances of having to move for the next job are lower. Just something to bear in mind.

    When you consider that most people don't love what they do for a living, that they aren't challenged at work, and that they don't actually CARE about what they're making...I think that's a much more bleak and frightening prospect than putting in a little OT from time to time.

    The sheer amount of drive, passion, comradery, and fun that this industry is both founded on and perpetuates as a byproduct is extremely rare in the workforce.
  • aajohnny
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    aajohnny polycounter lvl 6
    Oh, well you guys are right. I have time and like a lot of you said the industry can be different in a few years and maybe more studios can form by then.
  • Mark Dygert
    Kwramm wrote: »
    Then again, the games industry is not the only industry where you can have long hours. You can hear whining from engineers, architects, people in ad agencies, etc. We tend to think it's only us, the people in games, because we mostly hear from other people in games, but the truth is, there's many jobs with "crunch".
    Yea I completely agree when I was working in print we had weekly deadlines, monthly deadlines and quarterly deadlines we where always bumping up against some deadline and we where also dependent on authors, editors, photographers and 6 dozen other middle men who constantly ate into our time to do our job. It was nutty but manageable if everyone kept a level head especially management.

    With this industry you're much more self contained and typically have months between deadlines. As long as management doesn't have its head up its ass and people are competent, things should go pretty smoothly.

    Working people that hard is counterproductive and can lead to more bugs and more errors and more time spent fixing that stuff. Things always seem to go better if you're moving at a pace that you can plan out your next few moves. If the entire company culture is set up so that everyone is running around like a rat in a maze trying to escape mustard gas then you're going to have a lot of casualties and a broken game...

    I also agree with Autocon, the places that have a "what next" plan lined up and aren't only focused on getting their dream baby out the door, are the places that tend to work smartly and provide a long lasting job. Which is also good to try and ferret out in interviews, if you can, sometimes studios are cagey about telling "outsiders" about their future plans. Which can also be a good test of how well your fitting in...
  • Jeremy Lindstrom
    I think this is about everything you need from the article.
    Some developers “age out,” tired of the long hours, the constant pressure and the ever-present fear of the pink slip. Which is why it’s so important, says Duffy, for young people looking at games as a career to know what they’re in for — and have a backup plan. “You’re very likely to get fed up with the game industry,” she says.
  • chrismaddox3d
  • Progg
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    Progg polycounter lvl 8
    There inlies the potential problem with Texas. Yeah cost of living is low, but there aren't many studios there either. People always rattle off the same half dozen company names when the question gets asked. California COL is pretty gnarly, especially in the industry hubs (LA and San Fran), but there are a grip of companies, so you have more options and if you get laid off your chances of having to move for the next job are lower. Just something to bear in mind.

    When you consider that most people don't love what they do for a living, that they aren't challenged at work, and that they don't actually CARE about what they're making...I think that's a much more bleak and frightening prospect than putting in a little OT from time to time.

    The sheer amount of drive, passion, comradery, and fun that this industry is both founded on and perpetuates as a byproduct is extremely rare in the workforce.

    He asked for Austin, not Texas. Texas has many more studios in Dallas and Houston. Those are only the more well known studios anyways. If you mention any city there's only a few half dozen of the "well-known" companies minus LA or San Fran which has a few more. There's plenty more of the smaller studios around, I just didn't mention them.
  • passerby
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    passerby polycounter lvl 7
    just do what you love to do.

    and the crunches and huge amounts of overtime aren't just in 3d.

    3d is my hobby but i work in post-production and music production and when we got a deadline for a screening of a film or a EP i don't even get time to go home and usually end up sleeping in the studio for the whole week, and i had way too many gf's break up with me for not being around enough.

    But im still there doing the work cause i love it.

    We got kinda a running joke at the Studio that haveing a passion for this kinda work is a disease, we all cant hold a normal job without wanting to kill ourselfs but what we love to do completely fucks or social lives, has us working retarded amounts of overtime when there is a crunch and than were struggling to make ends meet when there is a lull in business.

    But we all seem to have to itch that draws us to it.
  • chrismaddox3d
    My wife works and does international taxes and brings home work all the time.
    They give them a free laptop so they can bring the work home and keep it safe.
    I even catch her looking at work on the weekends sometimes.
    After dinner last night was up till nearly 11pm doing some work.
    They work on salary as well,so every industry has there moments.
  • Calabi
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    Calabi polycounter lvl 7
    Its not surprising its unreliable though. The industrys income is bases on the unreliable desires of the public.

    If a company is able to succesfully sustainable survive then they are genius's or geniusii? Apple seem to be good at monetizing and knowing what the public want.

    It could be why games havent come as far as I think they should. These companys dont build a good solid base of expertise. When failure arrives they just get rid, instead of allowing to learn.

    It'll never be that stable, if it is either a company has perfected that game, and no one needs to play any other or we've all been turned into mindless drones.
  • Slum
    When you consider that most people don't love what they do for a living, that they aren't challenged at work, and that they don't actually CARE about what they're making...I think that's a much more bleak and frightening prospect than putting in a little OT from time to time.

    This is an issue of finding the right team that fits. The people I work with are the opposite of that. I could never work on a team setting where nobody cared and everyone was doing the bare minimum.
  • aajohnny
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    aajohnny polycounter lvl 6
    chrismaddox3d - Thanks for that site its awesome.
  • chrismaddox3d
    aajohnny wrote: »
    chrismaddox3d - Thanks for that site its awesome.

    No problem
    Its a good place to start when looking for a job.
  • Richard Kain
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    Richard Kain polycounter lvl 12
    It is quite true that the game industry is a bit unstable at the moment, and this trend is probably going to continue growing over the course of the next few years.

    The game industry has been growing in a specific direction for the past decade and a half. But recent changes and opportunities in the games market are causing a rather substantial shift in the way that games are created, sold, marketed, and even played. An already young industry is facing another major shift, and everything is still in flux. This is what is largely responsible for the current instability.

    The standardized mega-publisher/developer model that had become prevalent in the games industry is being shaken by a flawed retail model and the expansion of digital distribution. The hardware platform holder paradigm is becoming less relevant in an age where platform ubiquity and on-line services are gaining ground. This has resulted in a lot of layoffs, canceled projects, and studio closures. At the same time, we've seen a larger number of smaller studios starting up to take advantage of new marketplaces.

    For a determined and talented developer/artist, there should be ample opportunity available. It just might be harder to find. You might need to dig a little deeper, and ask more questions about potential opportunities.
  • jarrede
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    jarrede polycounter lvl 6
    I've bounced around from film to game houses for a while now, it's about as stable as it's ever been. I'd like to move away from LA, but this stupid city keeps sucking me back in.

    Having a family can be rough at times, sometimes I wished I had a "normal" 9 to 6 job like everyone else, but I love what I'm doing, and my wife understands that.

    Still its hard missing the one in a lifetime moments with my daughter :(

    Were looking at moving to Japan, and for my wife, she's going home to family so it will be easier on her, but for me, I'll have to integrate into a different part of the industry...but thats a whole different story,

    I guess, whats kept me afloat these years, is having fun with the people I work with, being open to new tools and techniques, and learning how to learn :)
  • chrismaddox3d
    How stable is freelance market for most of you out there?
    I have had many tell me its pretty stable in having work to do.
  • Rick_D
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    Rick_D polycounter lvl 10
    i have worked in a lot of different areas, from shitty manual labour to skilled labour to data entry to IT. and i gotta be honest nothing compares to this industry, it's great.

    all your concerns are something i have never really had to face.

    the worst thing about this industry is the audience. i hate people who play games and talk about them on the internet more and more each day. it's just as well that i get pleasure from my work or i would have quit by now.

    does anyone else feel like they are wasting their lives though? like maybe we should be doing something productive...
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