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I'm thinking 3rd party ought to be treated better, an article worth reading in troubling times.

interpolator
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NikhilR interpolator
https://www.rankandfile.ca/video-game-working-conditions/?fbclid=IwAR1oXZ7hVCJVQXzhX4p1tvN7MI7YgF9ZnHwgb1_lyKTAb22x-dXByk063aQ

This article details how many 3rd party contract and on call workers (QA/art/localisation and art) are having to risk their lives to meet 1st party deadlines because they are considered a liability when it comes to being responsible with what they are testing should they be working from home.

Now it isn't entirely clear who is more accountable in this, the 1st party developer or the 3rd party QA company that has to negotiate to allow such a possibility (working from home) or risk losing its client.
From what I'm aware its a bit of both, but 3rd party is beholden to a clients wishes as that is the way the business model is set up. And while I do understand its reasoning, I do believe there is a better way.

Why do we work like this? Why not delay a game for the sake of the health of all people involved especially if the government is willing to support your business with grants and tax credits? 
Don't know about you but if I was working 1st party and my company couldn't let some faceless 3rd party contractors work from home for the sake of their health I'd feel pretty guilty about the way things are given the "privilege" to work from home.

I mean no amount of making these people top tier ninja rockstar samuria gundams is likely to change their situation. I mean unless they use their psycho frame ability to activate additional shields and dormant new type abilities in "Destroy mode"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9qE_UMethK0 ||Gundam unicorn: spoiler warning||

What's needed is a change is how the games business functions as a whole, perhaps horribly this virus is that cure to that.

This forum topic continues from the one I made previously about whether NDA's are actually necessary given the liability of work from home arrangements.
https://polycount.com/discussion/218387/do-ndas-really-matter-given-the-remote-work-situation-many-developers-are-facing-right-now#latest


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  • Alex Javor
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    Alex Javor insane polycounter
    Many people have no savings and live paycheck to paycheck. If they stop working, they will be homeless soon.

    This extends to businesses, and even economies at a macro scale. Most people and many business are operating in emergency mode, all the time.

    The only way you'll start seeing businesses treat their employees more fairly and more humanely is if it is demonstrated that it is more profitable to do so, or if culture as a whole changes what it values.


  • NikhilR
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    NikhilR interpolator
    Many people have no savings and live paycheck to paycheck. If they stop working, they will be homeless soon.

    This extends to businesses, and even economies at a macro scale. Most people and many business are operating in emergency mode, all the time.

    The only way you'll start seeing businesses treat their employees more fairly and more humanely is if it is demonstrated that it is more profitable to do so, or if culture as a whole changes what it values.


    Well we have a bunch here that feels that following an NDA is more important the general health and well being of your colleagues so we have a long way to go.
  • Alex Javor
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    Alex Javor insane polycounter
    I don't know about that. Probably if they run a risk assessment they see the short term risk not outweighing the long term consequence of losing a job. Whatever the case is though, if you are working towards some type of change it won't happen in one violent revolution. It takes baby steps.
  • NikhilR
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    NikhilR interpolator
    It takes baby steps.
    Kinda like the spread of the virus eh?
  • Alex Javor
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    Alex Javor insane polycounter
    If you want to understand why humans are terrible at dealing with large scale things like pandemics and global economies, you only need to study history.

    Here's plenty of good reading:

    There you can learn how in just a few generations humans destroyed nearly all of the megafauna populations in austrailia without even realizing it.

    If you cannot make the connection, you are probably overthinking things.

  • Alex Javor
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    Alex Javor insane polycounter
    And because I know that nobody will actually read articles like that, let me break it down barney style:

    Business problems stem from people problems. So if you want to solve a problem, you have to understand the variables involved. Which is people. 

    So it's useless to be discussing numbers and proposing solutions if we don't even understand the basis of where the problem is coming from. In 2020, humans need to be getting introspective and taking personal responsibility for our actions. Stop repeating the dumb cycle of blaming others and start developing solutions that address our real problems.

    The best way to solve a crisis of leadership is to develop yourself as a leader and then act. Then you can show other people exactly what to do. And if you are right it will be almost impossible to ignore what you are doing.


  • sacboi
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    sacboi ngon master
    Actually perused your link and sadly my country is also responsible for 50% of worldwide mammal extinction rate, since colonisation too our eternal collective shame.

    As to this thread's topic, change will only happen via external legislative pressure, which trillion dollar tech conglomerates have felt in the last 5yr period alone however more work is needed to effect an equitable result for those toiling at the coalface. Higherups will take notice if their profit spreadsheet bleeds red, in my opinion. 
  • NikhilR
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    NikhilR interpolator
    Well as far as Quebec goes, government has ordered a general shut down of all non essential businesses for three weeks.
     Not sure how this affects work from home arrangements since even that requires atleast a skeleton crew to manage servers and operations in office.
     Will keep everyone updated on how this affects 3rd party contract workers.

    Update: They're having to take up Employment insurance while they wait for operations to start again. 

  • PixelMasher
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    PixelMasher high dynamic range
    yea dude i am in total agreement that everyone who has the ability to work from home should be able to. When I mentioned it's a privilege not a right, I mean more along the lines that there are a ton of people who are gonna be playing animal crossing and doom when they should be working a and need to realize that it's going to show in their lack of output, and not to be shocked if that comes back to bite them in the ass eventually. it's going to be hard for studios to say some people can work from home and others can't just because they cant control themselves and actually work, little billy will point his finger and cry unfair treatment, which is why studios tend to either offer it across the board or not at all in normal times. 

    It's a something everyone should have access to in our industry, but a lot of people are going to straight up abuse it or not be able to transition smoothly due to their own lack of self discipline or bad habits that creep in, like taking video game breaks that get longer and longer, or suddenly having to run errands every single day during their normal work hours. 

    The push for remote work was something I have been chasing and championing for ages, that's why I made the leap to counterplay, leaving the safety and security of a big studio like WB. I even told them about 3-4x in my exit interviews that being open to more people working remotely would be a huge boost in recruiting and retention, especially as remote work options will slowly become more common over the coming years, the current situation not withstanding. once this CV passes, for sure huge corporations are going to bring everyone back on site, and cut off remote options, which is dumb in my opinion but that's their business model. 

    change is slow, there has been a big shakeup lately which is awesome to see companies transitioning and trying new things to keep production going instead of firing everyone in a panic, but this is not going to be the new norm once things get back to the way they are. it's not just the game industry, most industries are super resistant to work from home setups because most management is from the older generation and thinks if they cant keep their eyes on their workers, they will slack off, which again, is probably true for 30-50% of people.  

    in terms of the health and safety of everyone, it is a huge concern for most companies.  I saw that article about keywords  posted on fb as well, and a huge majority of the comments were from former employees saying they were not surprised and ripping the company to shreds, same for glassdoor, which is unfortunate. 

    the kicker is 90% of people in the studios here in montreal are probably totally unaware their studio even works with keywords, I had never  heard of the studio before reading that article, even though they have probably worked directly with UBI and WB for years, simply because it is never communicated to the overall team, at least not the art departments. QA is usually pretty separate from the rest of the production floor at most studios, which isn't great as they are an integral part of the team tbh. 

    in that specific situation its hard to know if it really is the 1st party devs not allowing it, or keywords being run by people who would rather risk peoples health and safety by using that excuse and taking the short term pain because they are afraid of a leak ruining the studio's reputation. a lot of 3rd party companies are terrified of something happening that would have their clients abandon them, vs a first party where it wouldn't have as much of an impact as one of their direct income streams being cut off completely. 

    will there be game delays? for sure there is going to be a wave of them, once companies finally wake up and see how long this is going to go on for, but at the same time, they are currently trying to keep everyone busy and employed, actually working etc. if they announce a 6 month delay and everyone is working from home, half the staff are going to just chill and coast. as a lot of people mentioned in those other threads, only about 50% of the work force likes working from home or would prefer it. but these days anything that can keep people's income up is a good thing and should be embraced for sure. When it comes to dollars on the line, eventually most companies will cave to it in the short term or risk going belly up. 

    if we look at the big picture of the employment situation in canada at the moment not just our industry, there is a huge chunk of the population being laid off or getting pushed onto EI. it's the reality of this lockdown, and it is going to have huge, long term economic effects :/ 



  • Biomag
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    Biomag polycounter
    OK so this whole thing came up because of Keywords Studio's situation in Montreal? I've just read the first two articles that came up in google one being form forbes and one www.gamesindustry.biz (also linking to a story where 3rd party QA testers are being sued for leaking Fortnite infos). Don't get me wrong, as much as I would prefer knowing that as many people as possible are working from home, you are going to have a very hard time to achieve a change where a company is actually complying to the law - no matter how poorly.

    The real reaction should be that people should get an exit plan and leave that studio. It sounds like Keywords Montreal is a bad place to work for QAs. But this shouldn't be tackled by lowering standards for NDAs (ironically as stated above QAs were the two leaks). It just means that higher standards for hygiene and health security should be demanded from the studio to ensure the safety for proper operations. Don't forget how many other people have to work regular jobs during this crisis as well and are only getting shut down right now.

    I do see here a big risk for security and if I would be working with a 3rd party QA as a studio I would probably not accept them switching to home office with my project for reasons mentioned in the other thread. I would understand if they say they don't want to proceed working from the office, so that the contract would be suspended. I would on the other hand be pissed if I hear that they are not respecting the health risks for their employees and thus the general public. As a business partner you can mention that, but hardly enforce it as all you can do is to threat to take your business elsewhere (once the co-operation contract finishes because you are bound by it as well), but I doubt that is putting the testers in a better spot, right?

    I'm sorry to say, but contractors/outsource studio employees are (in general) a much bigger security risk than employees in your own company so they can't be treated the same way. Again I've worked at an outsource studio and have friends working there. That's not directed at them. But you do have lower hiring standards (since you are smaller name studios than the big ones, you simply can't afford to have the same ones) and you have a lot of people who work there for a year or less - which comes with less loyalty to your studio, less ties to the industry and you probably don't know them as well either. So while I'd not be worried at all about those people that work longterm in outsource studios or want to stay within the industry, I'd worry about jobs that require just a low qualification and don't have tenure, thus not risk having them work from home on my project. Exceptions would only be possible if its a stable team I've been working with for a long time.

    But again none of that is new. Its the same thing why most freelancers for AAA studios are seniors with ties to the studios. Its about mitigating risks.

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