game industry!? :( Tell me the truth.

polycounter lvl 6
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toxic_h2o polycounter lvl 6
I have been reading/hearing a bunch of negative things about the game industry on here and other sites recently. For the past few years I have been looking forward to graduating so I could finally get to do what I have always wanted, to work on a game. All I want, is to be able to make awesome things and provide a means for my family one day.

I'm a student who will be graduating in about a year and half. I am already very nervous about whether or not my portfolio will even be good enough to get an entry level position somewhere (Also I live in Ohio so I have that against me).

But no worries! I will work super hard, sacrifice everything and land that awesome job I have been constantly dreaming about for the past few years right?

Tell me am I ignorant for thinking the video game industry can be a fun place to work? Are these rumors I hear true? All this stuff about crappy working conditions, crazy hours and what not is making me worried. I don't want to slave away, sell my soul and realize its all been a false hope. :( I'm not dumb, I don't expect to get paid to have Nerf gun fights. I guess I just want to be able to say at the end of the day that I enjoy my job.

So tell me, does anyone have any good experiences working in this field? Can someone tell a student who knows nothing about the inner workings of this industry, what they should expect? Are my future kids going to grow up fatherless because I was forced to spend all my time in the studio?



  • ceebee
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    ceebee polycounter lvl 8
    Ya, it's kinda like prison.
  • Kwramm
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    Kwramm greentooth
    The studios I worked often looked more than the lower pictures. But that doesn't mean you had to work crazy hours or were treated badly.

    Thing is, the lower level jobs in our industry are often factory like - you've being told what to do and you deliver on time, then rinse, repeat. Again, this doesn't have to mean it cannot be fun. If you enjoy what you do and if you get different concepts it can be quite fun.

    The studios I worked in had proper hardware, decent bosses and most often a plan of what they wanted to do. There were people who were married, people who had kids and family. What gave me a bit to think though was that almost nobody was over 40. The oldest guy we had was 50, in a studio of 300 people.

    If you're good you can also see a bit of the world, if you desire - I love that about my job.
  • JDinges
    top picture, just a lot more crowded.
  • cholden
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    cholden polycounter lvl 13
    It's a job. Yes, it's a cushy job because you get to sit in a chair in front of the internet watching movies, listening to music and out of your mind all day, but it's still work. And there are plenty of good, family men in this industry.

    Right now, your portfolio is a tree. Get on that. Skill is a sacrifice.

    Working in games is fun if you're passionate about games. I get emotional playing games, new builds are exciting, Traveling to game shows is great because I get to see all my pals from previous companies and the internet. The horror stories are real. Crunch in a dirty room full of smelly dudes falling asleep at your desk to wake up painting promotional garbage only to show up at E3 with a screen saver lopping old screen shots. The ups and downs are extremes of adventure and emotions. If that's the ride you're looking for, hop on. These days, most of the people around me are kids fresh out of school. While the industry is small, it's growing fast.
  • ceebee
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    ceebee polycounter lvl 8
    ^^^ Oh yeh and watch this guys crunchcast, there's some good info ^^^
  • eld
  • Reverenddevil
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    Reverenddevil polycounter lvl 9
    Hey man, it is pretty much where you're working. It is just another thing in life. There is good and bad and some gray areas in between. I have been in the industry since 96 and had some horror stories, some super awesome stories and times.
    Understand that although it is work, if you are passionate about making games then it will definitely not feel like work. You are the one who is making the choice to get into this industry, no one is forcing you. Look for studios you want to help make games for and try to do their art or better and if you get hired by them, then you are hundreds of steps beyond most people and loving what you do.
    If you are at a studio and you feel your face melting off then quit or look for something else. No one is ever forcing you to stay at a job. I know as we go on in life we get strapped with responsibilities just try to see the bigger picture at all times.
    WORK ON YOUR PORTFOLIO NOW!!! Having the mindset from the get go of making yourself better than people you see on polycount is priority 1. You are not only competing with those super awesome artists at your school, you are competing with everyone on this board plus more on all the other sites and people currently at studios. As long as you have a strong portfolio and do not smell of douche, or act like a slam pig, you will always be able to find work..

    Good luck and remember work and life are what you make of them. Cry and whine and you will never hear or see clearly behind your whaling and those tears in your eyes.
  • Poribo
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    Poribo polycounter lvl 6
    eld wrote: »
    ahhh haha! When I saw the thread title, I was intending to post this.
  • danr
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    danr polycounter lvl 13
    whats so good about the first pic? There's some smug little cunt with no shoes on a scooter. If he came past me in an office i'd be forced to hit him
  • crazyfingers
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    crazyfingers polycounter lvl 8
    The secret's out, black women are beginning to dominate this industry.
  • nordahl154
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    nordahl154 polycounter lvl 7
    You don't wanna know what happens when you drop the soap. Trust me.
  • [HP]
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    [HP] polycounter lvl 10
    People spend too much time dwelling on what's right or wrong for them, instead of pursuing their own dreams and ambitions.
  • TortillaChips
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    TortillaChips polycounter lvl 8
    Thing is I wouldn't say there's been a lot of negative stuff around recently. There always seems to be this amount of stuff happening.
  • Farfarer
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    Farfarer Polycount Sponsor
    When it's good, it's really good. When it's bad it sucks your soul. And donkeys.

    Really, though, it depends on the company and the project.
  • PogoP
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    PogoP polycounter lvl 7
    You will always hear about bad companies, because bad working conditions and having a shit time makes people want to write about it on the internet! Not many people make a thread for 'How awesome it is to work at *****'.

    For every bad studio, there must be 10/20 good ones. Get a good folio and find a good one.
  • Snefer
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    Snefer polycounter lvl 10
    Its fucking awesome.
  • Perfectblue
    This thread with average working hours may shed additional information.
  • Gannon
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    Gannon polycounter lvl 8
    @ snefer ^ wasn't bribed or paid to said that^ lol
  • osman
    It's both. Depends on where you're at.
  • Saman
  • Acr0
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    Acr0 polycounter lvl 5
    Really depends on management. Don't expect zany colour walls and scooter travel wherever you go. The rooms where actual production teams work in Bioware for example is pretty much like the bottom picture. Pop Cap in Seattle however, is more like the top. Every studio is different.

    The game industry isn't a school, it's a company that can invest 10's of millions of dollars into a product. It's very serious business at the higher levels. Your leads are making multi-million dollar decisions, that can effect entire deadlines. If I told people i am a lead of one of the departments at a game company, they would shrug it off. If i told them I am a lead of a department on a 40 million dollar product development, they would sit up and take notice.

    Game development is a business. They want to make money. But it is a creative business, and quite a few companies try to support an environment that fosters creativity. I think we are approaching a shift in managers though. We are such a young industry. We have people now with 10-15+ year of production experience, that can soon replace these out of industry managers. We are currently seeing too many decisions being made by people that have not done thier trail by fire in a production team. It can only get better.
  • Alberto Rdrgz
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    Alberto Rdrgz polycounter lvl 8
    I really could careless... but i remember going to my teacher;s studio in pittsburgh.. (shell games) and it looked like a toy factory. A lot like the first picture. But i really don't care how it is I could sit in front of a computer getting whipped by a small Asian lady with a whistle. It doesn't matter I love 3d modeling and it is a job i don't expect wonderland just want to get paid to do what i love.:)
  • Firebert
    I really could careless...

    oh no u didn't!
  • Serp
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    Serp polycounter lvl 11
    PogoP wrote: »
    You will always hear about bad companies, because bad working conditions and having a shit time makes people want to write about it on the internet! Not many people make a thread for 'How awesome it is to work at *****'.

    For every bad studio, there must be 10/20 good ones. Get a good folio and find a good one.

    Yeah this. I've worked in two studios for about 3 years total and it's been great.
  • Richard Kain
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    Richard Kain polycounter lvl 12
    It's true that a lot of game companies have gotten increasingly more corporately-focused and abusive toward their employees over the past decade. However, it's also worth pointing out that there is a very obvious reason why they've been able to get away with it.

    Some people simply love making games so much, that they are willing to put up with the abuse just so they can make games for a living. If you get into this career and like it, there is a good chance that you will do almost anything to keep working in games.

    It's just unfortunate that some corporate douches are willing to take advantage of their employees passion just to squeeze a few extra dollars.
  • Minos
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    Minos polycounter lvl 9
    You can check out this site before applying to a company, just to have a rough idea of how it is to work there:
  • MissMaddyTaylor
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    MissMaddyTaylor polycounter lvl 8
    It is a job, so there won't always be time to run around and have fun on scooters. It also depends on the studio you end up working for, more lower end studios can't afford free pizza for everyone.

    If you don't like working long hours at times, then crunch time might get stressful. Unless you're a super-mega-3d-modeling-speed-concepting-coffee-making-ninja-robot-thing.
  • Bigjohn
    You know what's annoying? Every time I get up to stretch my legs, the guy with the black trench-coat yells through the bullhorn "Worker number 74! Return to your spot immediately!". That gets old after a while, but he's just doing his job. If he didn't, then they'd have to send the dogs after me. So really I'm thankful for the crackdown.

    But the dementors... man oh man, the dementors... they'll take your soul.
  • ae.
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    ae. ngon master
    I love working at Digital Extremes! its awesome everyone is talented and both management and leads are great to work with :)

    Yeah sure it wont always be amazing when you have to work long hours sometimes to hit a milestone, but your reconized for you hard work after a big milestone its not out of the ordinary to get a day or two off work to let you relax. its like any other studio but like 100x better.

    oh and the parties there pretty amazing!
  • alexk
  • ErichWK
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    ErichWK polycounter lvl 7
    Depends where you work. Insomniac was one of the greatest experiences of my life and had some really rad management a leads that kept the boat cruisin smoothly for the most part and knew how to inspire it's workers. High Moon is also a really cool place. Different style but I'm just as content and excited for the projects. If you aren't happy wherever you work, then man..don't settle. find something better

    Working at a Studio is kind of like being in a relationship,, is the way I like to think about it
  • danr
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    danr polycounter lvl 13
    when i was deep in crunch a few years back - working really late, and on my birthday of all days - a lobster arrived, addressed to me.

    thats all, really
  • Mark Dygert
    The truth is, its like every other office job, only you don't have to shave your neckbeard and you are allowed to clutter your desk up with as much "flare" as your desk can reasonably hold before collapsing.

    If you want a company that has a scooter or a segway for each person to use so they don't have to walk to get coffee then you probably need to start that company up. Most of those places spend more money on decorations and the office then on the staff and promptly go tits up when the cash advances run dry.

    Personally I work very reasonable hours and we hardly ever crunch. I have a lot of creative freedom and the projects I work on are short and varied so I'm never really bored of feel stuck in a rut. My bills are always paid and I have enough extra cash to do the things I love. I can't imagine working at a place where everyone has dark circles around their eyes and gets by on raman and stale coffee, no thanks there are easier ways to make the same kind of cash in other industries. I've been there, I would go back if anyone ever tried to put my balls in a vice.

    People need to realize that they need you more than you need them.
  • Justin Meisse
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    Justin Meisse polycounter lvl 13
    I used to have a home-made nerf gun sitting next to me at Mythic, it was basically a pneumatic potato gun that shot nerf darts - I'd probably get arrested trying to bring that into a "regular" job.
  • DeeKei
    Also, if you enjoy modelling for quite a long period in a day, then I don't see why you'd hate it. But yeah, once you are in the zone time really just flies by, so only experience can tell you whether you like it or not. I mean, I haven't actually been working in the industry yet, but I did a few projects and they have their own problems and crunch time so I'm hoping its similar.
  • toxic_h2o
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    toxic_h2o polycounter lvl 6
    Wow guys thanks for all the comments. I really appreciate it. I makes me feel a bit better(except for Bigjohns comment which has me scared shitless). I have been slaving away all summer trying to play catch up (since the program at my state school is a joke). I pretty much work all day everyday so I'm guessing this might be what its like during crunch with a bit less stress of course(I get to work in my underwear if I want too).

    For me I give it my all when I work on something. I take it seriously and try to get it as close to perfection as my abilities and knowledge will allow. That's why I love this forum and you guys, because I found a bunch of people with my general mindset and passion. Well most members at least, there are a few on here which I'm not sure what they are thinking (not naming any names).

    We give it our all when we do our work or at least most of us do. So we should be rewarded with a fun and inspiring work environment. I guess I was curious to know if most companies take advantage of their employees or if there are still some cool companies out there that strive for an environment like this.

    @Reverenddevil: thanks for the lengthy response I agree with everything you said. Definitely makes me think about a few things.

    @Acr0: Insightful, I hope for everyone that things do in fact only get better!

    @Snefer: I wanna be you when I grow up.

    @Alberto Rdrgz: I know what you mean, at this point I would suffer anything to do what I love especially when getting paid for it, but I'm wondering if a environment can change that? I cant see myself hating what I do but I wonder if its possible.

    ok enough about the negative side what are some of the coolest things that have happened to you because of the game industry? or what are some of your best moments while working in the industry? Brag and excite a ambitious student. :D
  • Mcejn
    From your site:
    I want to work at one of the B's (Blizzard, Bungie, Blur or Bethesda).
    in addition:
    Valve or Epic would be cool too.

    Since I am determined to work at one of these awesome places I am going to work on at least one model a day so I can get better and faster.

    Work hard.

    There are countless kids with the same exact dreams.

    But yeah, once you get into a good studio, it's awesome.

  • David-J
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    David-J polycounter lvl 9
    Adding to all that has being said. there are good and bad studios like any other industry just try to avoid the bad ones. While your enthusiasm is very good don't let the whole "I will sacrifice anything" attitude get you into one of those bad studios just because they offered you a job.

    Other than that good luck and post a lot of WIP's on polycount. You learn a lot here.
  • Allan-p
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    Allan-p polycounter lvl 7
    I'd say shop around, do a few tours around local places and see first hand. I never broke into the game industry but I'm slowly moving away from that dream as I love getting up, outside, moving about and enjoying more manual labour jobs rather than a sedentary job. I just recently got my second machine shop job and I'm loving it.

    All the best in your future!
  • RobStites
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    RobStites polycounter lvl 8
    I work at EA Redwood Shores and we have nerf fights pretty regularly. There are also a few of those scooters around, but not as many on my current team. As far as I've seen here as long as you get your work done and you're not a jerk you'll do fine.

    My only real gripe about working here is that I've been contracting here for like 2 years now and I'm still not regular full time, but considering the job market in the Bay Area right now I'm pretty happy.

  • Em.
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    Em. polycounter lvl 10
    I fucking love my job. Even the bad days don't compare to bad days in say, retail, construction, house cleaning, working in a call center, etc(All of which I've done).

    I think a lot of it is perspective. I have known kids that were lucky enough to have game dev as their first working experience in the real world who were utterly shocked by deadlines and adapting to working with others.

    It's hard work, but it's generally fun and fulfilling and being around so many people with common interests is just bonus.
  • David-J
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    David-J polycounter lvl 9
    RobStites wrote: »
    I work at EA Redwood Shores and we have nerf fights pretty regularly. There are also a few of those scooters around, but not as many on my current team. As far as I've seen here as long as you get your work done and you're not a jerk you'll do fine.

    My only real gripe about working here is that I've been contracting here for like 2 years now and I'm still not regular full time, but considering the job market in the Bay Area right now I'm pretty happy.


    Most important thing in the world in bold letters.

    Hi Rob, we are neighbors.

    I am on the same boat as him, still contractor at EA.
  • marks
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    marks polycounter lvl 9
    Snefer wrote: »
    Its fucking awesome.
  • Autocon
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    Autocon polycounter lvl 9
    I honestly think I enjoyed my job at Chuck E Cheese back in high school more.
  • ErichWK
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    ErichWK polycounter lvl 7
    I imagine you being overly snarky to all those children, Anthony.
  • Rick_D
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    Rick_D polycounter lvl 10
    [HP] wrote: »
    People spend too much time dwelling on what's right or wrong for them, instead of pursuing their own dreams and ambitions.

  • Lonewolf
    im a freelancer for about 10 years, never worked in an actual studio before but i look like the bottom picture atleast 10 hours a day lol
  • .polygon
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    .polygon polycounter lvl 7
  • slipsius
    I work in my bosses basement. basically looks like a LAN party. with a cat roaming around, and a leaky foundation that floods only my work area (im in the corner) during heavy rain and snow melting in the spring. I work 9 - 5, monday to friday. no OT so far. we work. we joke around. and half the office plays minecraft constantly.

    i AM looking for something alittle more hardcore though. a bigger studio,which im sure would result in OT and stricter deadlines. which is fine. its what i want. bigger gamessss
  • Xenobond
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    Xenobond polycounter lvl 11
    Any job that doesn't involve interacting with actual customers is a win in my book.
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