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  1. #1
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    Artists slaves to the video game industry?

    So, I'm interested in being an artist in the games industry as many many, many other young artists are i'm sure.
    I have two family members who have worked in the video game industry, one as a tester, one as an artist. I also have a teacher who has worked in both the video game industry as well as special effects for movies. Talking with all of them I heard the same thing. All of them said that working in the video game industry is tempting, but they were driven to leave because of the work conditions.

    They all had similar stories about un-announced overtime, projects being revamped on short notice with little or no additional time being allotted for redoing assets and lots and lots of dead time while the programmers did their thing. While they said that long vacation times were typically given on a projects completion, they claimed it wasn't enough to justify the lack of stability/efficiency in the production process.

    Now in the case of the game tester, who is paid an hourly wage and is contracted to work for a specified period of time (at least in the case of the person I talked to) it may not pose as much of a problem (thats a big may but i don't want to get into that aspect of things,) But for the artist who is typically paid a fixed salary and who is responsible for the quality of the work they do, this seems quite, quite unacceptable. Overtime on a fixed salary, means less money per hour and from what i heard that hourly wage got down pretty low on certain projects. Maintaining a personal life of any kind is difficult to impossible when you're at work 14 hours a day 6 days a week. I also don't see how artists are expected to maintain quality when an asset list that had taken, say, 3 months to do is revamped and must now be largely redone in 1 month to stay on schedule.
    As it was described to me, many of the artistic staff felt conditions were unreasonable but the mentalities of the companies were that it was such an honor to make games for a living that the artist should just have to deal. That seems unfair to me.

    Now I understand it's a different story for work done freelance,and I understand that the idea of a "Game Artists Union" might be somewhat of a radical step. However, it sounds to me like maybe there is some abuse that has been adopted as the norm and the industry might be using the flood of enthusiastic "new blood" in this rapidly growing field to replace their burnt out staff as opposed to actually giving them a reasonable work environment.

    Electronic Arts was sued a short time ago by a group of it's employees over similar issues regarding unpaid overtime (an article on the topic is here: http://ea-spouse.livejournal.com/274.html) I was told that EA lost and actually ended up paying out a lot of money to current and past employees. I'm curious if this has caused any changes in the way EA and other game companies treat their staff?

    I know alot of people on this site don't work in the video game industry, but a number of people do and I just wanted to start a discussion.
    Is there a possibility for a sustainable career as a game artist? Is game art something you do for just a short while when you're young? If you want a balanced, arguable healthy life, should you look to another profession?

    I'm not looking for perfect answers, I just wanted to hear some more thoughts on the topic. Sorry for the long post.

    Rock on!
    Last edited by Mute; May 9th, 2009 at 05:05 AM.
    ...my humble and uneducated opinion.

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  4. #2
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    i'm interested in hearing how this situation plays out in other artistic fields too, like architecture etc

    but good post, not what i was expecting
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    ok my friend. I have limited experience in the games industry, the only experience being college and the part time games job i do whilst at college.

    Where i work isnt really a pro games company though, its more a guy with a bunch of money throwing it at people he thinks know what they are doing and expecting a game to just poof into existance, but hey its money.... The work conditions there arent too bad concidering, but the worst thing about there is that they also teach high school kids 3d there, so it is so fustrating having to listen to thier lame jokes all day long. (not to mention half of them dont seem to understand the concept of soap and deoderant).

    That aside, i think you will find it depends heavily on the company you work at. Some will be awesome and you will have a ball of a time, others are just bad news. You have to remember that the games industry is a very juvinile feild, there are no standards used universally for project managment, and there are no standards for qa and all that other stuff, so it is always going to vary whereever you go.

    Also qa is the worst job in industry.... never do it. Its the area that takes up all the slack when something is behind schedule. And alot of companies tend to take the approach of hiring a bunch of guys from the local colleges and throwing them at the game in the last month of development hoping desperatley to make the game better. But again you will get the not so bad qa jobs and the qa jobs that will make you want to slit your writst with a rusty fork covered in aids.

    So in short, some places are good, most bad, but those good places give us something to really strive for.

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    I love the games industry. Then again I am a workaholic...always have been even when I was first starting out. If you are only in it for a nine to five job and then home to drink beers and watch tv you are dead in the water. those who make it in games bust ass at work and at home on their own skills. Freelance or not. its a lifestyle. its an art and it requires a lot of time and effort. Such is life.

    There will be no unions in games that I can see. Never say never but it sure looks unlikely. If you are not happy in your job and you have the skills then go elsewhere. That is the same no matter what field you are in. If you want the nine to five, be a banker and go home and play with the kids after work.

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  8. #5
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    Most artistic/creative fields have shifting deadlines and killer hours... From my experience doing graphic design, you'll get a short deadline and then spend half your time just waiting for other people (writers, photographers, programmers etc.) to get their stuff done so you can get to work... most of the time that means you'll work twice as much when you finally get started.

    The problem you describe is pretty common in all kinds of digital industries from what I've heard/read/seen. Long hours, no overtime, short deadlines and constantly having to adapt your schedule because other people mess up somewhere in the chain of production.

    To succeed in a creative field, you pretty much have to love what you do and make it a lifestyle, just like Jason says... working in most creative fields will never be a nine-to-five job. If you can't cut working overtime on a project, chances are you won't be around for long, because the industry banks on people who are willing to put in the effort and make up for other peoples slack. Obviously, this doesn't work for everyone, but it is the reality of the situation.

    The last month or so, I've been working 12-15 hour days doing assignments, screen-printing, voluntary work, personal work etc. and I'm not even out of college yet. It takes some effort and not all the work I'm doing is equally fun, but I know that once I'm doing this for a living, it will be even more work so I might as well get used to it. I find the clue is to challenge yourself with each thing you do so you feel you are learning, also it helps to have a team of people you enjoy working with.

    Good luck =)

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  10. #6
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    Hey Mute, did the people you know who had bad experiences all work at the same studio? If so then it's a crappy studio and not a crappy industry. Also consider how long they've been there before bailing. In a competitive field obviously those with the most dedication and guts go further and do better. It's like life in the trenches, you've got to break rocks for a living before you can reap in cash and sit on your boat calling the shots.

    But yeah some companies have less efficient managers than others which would leave employees with lopsided work schedules. And it's kinda true in general that the bigger the corporation the less important you are as an individual. It's really the same deal in any industry and just be glad you're not a programmer. The games rest on them much more heavily than on you as an artist, though they do get paid twice as much as you haha!

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    http://www.gamasutra.com/view/featur...the_crunch.php

    Gamasutra has some more interesting articles about crunch time, if you spend some time looking for it
    "Master storytellers never explain. They do the hard, painfully creative thing-- they dramatize"

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  13. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jason Manley View Post
    If you are only in it for a nine to five job and then home to drink beers and watch tv you are dead in the water.
    I value free time because with it I can do personal art, keep fit, gather new experiences by reading, watching movies, playing interesting games, going to a previously unknown place with a bicycle and fun stuff like that. Moreover, I think it is important to do all that to grow as an artist.

    This thread has made me realize that working in the games industry would be too much of a timesink for me. How about illustration? Is it the same? As a freelancer, is it possible to not to take every available job and still get by? I mean, I don't need to be rich. I can survive with very little money.

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    Freelance means you work as much as you want to work. I've also supported myself on very little and at times have worked for a few months then took a few months off and lived off savings. If you find a good easy gig you could potentially just work for an hour a day. Of course if you're gonna be drawing anyways might as well get paid for it. But if you're smart I suppose you'd get a good client base, then source that work out to some college kids or something and not actually work at all and just take a cut. Spend your days at your leisure I guess. It's better to work though.

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    As fersteger mentions above, the beauty of freelancing is that you make your own hours. If you wanna work very little one month to prioritize other things, its possible to cut down on your expenses on food, gas, alcohol etc and practice the piano all day. Also, you can choose to isolate yourself and work constantly another month, if you're saving up for a fish tank, a boob job or going abroad. Speaking of abroad, as a freelancer you have the possibility to work from anywhere.

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    Well, it's been 9 years last week that I've started working in the game industry. I've had gaps in that time where I had to work in other industries and I can say now that I have never had a non game job that had better general conditions than the game jobs. I hear a lot of badmouthing the AAA industry when I go to indie dev forums but from what I understand, most of them never were in the AAA industry in the first place.

    EA had a lot of bad press but from what I gather EA Montreal has great conditions. They have learned from their mistakes. Programmers in the game industry often make less money that programmers doing the boring stuff such as SAP or DB programming. It's normal, because it's usually more enjoyable, though, not always. It's different for artists because the super profitable outlets don't really exist for them.

    Sometimes I hear that the game industry burns thru rookies like mad and throws them away afterwards because it's cheaper to hire rookies and replace them than it is to pay senior pay. Well, if you look at the jobs forums and most job postings, you will find it is not true. Rookies are a dime a dozen but some companies fight teeth and nail to get the veterans. and it makes lots of sense when you see the difference it makes in a production.

    Most of my friends who are working in games are located in Quebec City or Montreal where the labor laws aren't the same as the US. and most of them don't want to leave the industry. This doesn't mean that you never have insane crunch, that you can spend your days on Youtube and have masseuse and grapes at your desk. Well, we do have the occasional grapes...

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  19. #12
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    Interesting, it's the same in architecture.
    "Time heals everything, except the waste of Time itself..."

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    If you want the nine to five, be a banker and go home and play with the kids after work.
    Am I the only one who finds this statement rather condescending? While I agree with a lot of what you are saying Jason about art being a lifestyle it doesn't mean you have to be a slave or a work-a-holic in order to succeed. yes, you have to want it and yes you have to work your but off, but to imply that you have to give up a life outside of work is bunk.

    I've been a designer for almost 15 years, I earn a good living doing that. And yes I work my ass off, but no it does not impede into my personal time/life. There are times once in a while when I have to work 12 hour days to meet a deadline and that's the nature of the art business... AND that's the nature of most business if you want to succeed and not just get by at the lowest common denominator. But I don't think it's right to scare people away from a profession where they can have a good career AND a separate life if they choose.

    Now with that being said... don't expect to get anywhere if you don't bust your ass.

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  22. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Taneli View Post
    I value free time because with it I can do personal art, keep fit, gather new experiences by reading, watching movies, playing interesting games, going to a previously unknown place with a bicycle and fun stuff like that. Moreover, I think it is important to do all that to grow as an artist.

    This thread has made me realize that working in the games industry would be too much of a timesink for me. How about illustration? Is it the same? As a freelancer, is it possible to not to take every available job and still get by? I mean, I don't need to be rich. I can survive with very little money.
    I'm guessing that a career in illustration (and for that matter everything else) depends on who you are, what your style is, what skills you have (traditional, digital, 3d, animation etc.)... All those things will have an impact on how much work you are offered. A client will try to find the person that best suits his needs, if you are the best person in the business on a single thing, you might get alot more work than a guy who is a jack of all trades...

    ...and you would be able to set a higher price, since, if they want the best, they have to use you.

    Then again, there are very few who are that good, the rest of us mortals will either have to work until we bleed to become one of those people, or try to be versatile to get work.

    You know, it might be hard to figure out what you want to do, but I bet that if you ask people on this forum who work in the industry, they have all been in different positions throughout their lifes and ended up in the one they think suits them. You can plan ahead all you want, but if it doesn't work for you, it doesn't work, you've got to try it to know.

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    I wouldn't mind working 8-10 hours daily, especially when freelancing - no time wasted for commuting. I wouldn't mind working the whole day sometimes. More than 10 hours every day just seems a bit too much for me, personally. Not that it would be too exhausting (I don't know this yet... let's see in 201X when I'm at a good enough level to get work), I just value free time very much.

  24. #16
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    I don't know about other people but it's a hell of a lot more rewarding working with a team to make something none of us could make on our own, than sitting around in my PJs doing stupid little freelance jobs. It depends on the project but a lot of the time I have much more freedom with my art in games than I did as a freelancer.

    And I love games. So much that when I go home from work, I want to make games at home.

    There are normal 8-hour-day times at the studio, and then there are crunches, but hell, crunch can actually be fun if you have good producers... At my company one of the producers came in early every day with a griddle and a bunch of breakfast ingredients and would cook us all blueberry pancakes, bacon, eggs, hashbrowns, the works, just to make the day a little brighter for us, and we'd watch stupid tv shows and movies at dinner (which they provided). There were raffles and silly themed days (like all dressing up one day, or wearing all our industry swag another) and it was in fact a lot of fun, even though I was there for looong hours.

    Working in a creative field does pretty much require you bust ass at some point. Crunch time is the exception, not the rule, and if you don't care about your project enough to be putting in those hours it does suck, but if you care about making a good game then it's not so bad. And yeah for the most part the games industry is a fantastic place to be - usually the hours are somewhat flexible and they are very forgiving about life things like missing your alarm or having appointments during the day or sometimes just taking a day off because you want to. They're trying to make something fun so the encourage you to have a lot of fun too.

    I mean... You'd be making games, remember? If you don't care about the projects you do, don't waste the space that someone who would care could have.

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  26. #17
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    I love the games industry. Then again I am a workaholic...always have been even when I was first starting out. If you are only in it for a nine to five job and then home to drink beers and watch tv you are dead in the water. those who make it in games bust ass at work and at home on their own skills. Freelance or not. its a lifestyle. its an art and it requires a lot of time and effort. Such is life.
    Indeed...however, I have a slightly different viewpoint.
    When I first started in 2000, I got "the talk" from my Art Director after about a month of working there (at the time, we actually were making a game for EA, but it wouldn't have mattered, honestly). He basically said that working in this industry is a privilege and that long hours are expected. The discussion came up in the first place, because I was given a completion time that seemed unreasonable to me. 1 week to completely texture an entire baseball stadium (this was also at the very beginning of my career...I had just learned the entire concept of 3D studio max and the idea of UV unwrapping 2 days prior). I was panicking and expecting him to say "Oh, no problem, take an extra 3-4 days while you get your feet wet".

    He said with the most matter of fact face I had ever seen, "No, that is the schedule. That is what you will do. This is the industry. If you can't make it done in the 8 hour day, then you will stay longer. If you can't do it in the 24 hour day, then you will not work here."

    That completely changed the way I looked at it. At age 21, I realized that it WAS a priviledge...and I WAS lucky to be in this industry. And until last year, I completely agreed with what Jason said.

    I went through several projects in the last 8 years, 3 of them were at least AA verging on AAA quality titles. And of those 3 major projects, I had 3 separate crunches ranging from 4-7 months long, at 60-80 hours a week. What this boiled down to was essentially getting up in the morning (early) getting into work and working solidly all day (with a short "eat at my desk" lunch break), getting home around 11pm-1am, and repeating the next day. As I said, that work day...for 4-7 months straight, only getting Sunday off (maybe).

    So....with that, I will agree with Jason. I was enthusiastic. I loved working in games, I loved my company, I loved my project. It was great. Then, the bubble burst. I found after a year and a major crunch that I did not enjoy the project that I was working on. It was unethical to me to quit midway through the project (especially in crunchtime), so I stayed. And I got burnt out....hard. For 2 years, I felt like I was in the middle of a bad marriage with no possibility of divorce. Naturally, the burnout affected everything in my life. My speed was down, my enthusiasm was down, *and* I never got to see my wife. This completely erased that "for the greater good of the game" feeling. Sometimes you just can't control those emotions...when you are burnt out, you are burnt out. The ending to this long story is that my burnout and inability to be enthusiastic for what I considered a miserable project led to me being chosen for layoff at the end of the project.

    It was then, that I discovered what my problem was. I realized that I didn't need to work on next-gen gaming to be happy. Next-gen gaming requires dedication to the job that I personally had lost over the course of 8 years. So you know what I did? I went and found myself a job at a casual game developer (they make Wii titles that reviews and teenagers who play Halo hate, but moms and amazon.com reviewers LOVE) and I basically model cute, squishy cartoony mini-games all day and I love it.

    And you know what? I get in at work at 10am and I leave at 6pm....and it's FUCKING AWESOME. It is absolutely possible to have an 8 hour job in the game industry, you just have to adjust your goals. My goal used to me "Work on the biggest, most amazing AAA titles in the industry" and I clearly did not have the dedication for that. Well...not the kind of dedication that lasts longer than 8 years anyway. Now, my goal is "Spend time with my wife, spend time on my personal art at home, make cartoony games", in that order.

    And it's awesome. I paid my dues, I made awesome games, I contributed to things that I am proud of and make people happy, but frankly I am too fucking old (lol, yes...at 29, I am) to be spending my life in front of a computer and not seeing my wife. But I can still work in the games industry.
    And you can too! But if you want to make the Gears of Wars and the Grand Theft Autos, then yeah. You will need that "passion" which will translate into long hours.

    It's up to you.

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  28. #18
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    I like to get enthralled in what I do, so I prefer working 12 hour days. But I don't see myself doing that for weeks at a time. I need to negotiate a special work schedule that leaves me blocks of free time to spend time with family and friends, and pursue art.

  29. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by nonie View Post
    I don't know about other people but it's a hell of a lot more rewarding working with a team to make something none of us could make on our own, than sitting around in my PJs doing stupid little freelance jobs. It depends on the project but a lot of the time I have much more freedom with my art in games than I did as a freelancer.

    And I love games. So much that when I go home from work, I want to make games at home.

    There are normal 8-hour-day times at the studio, and then there are crunches, but hell, crunch can actually be fun if you have good producers... At my company one of the producers came in early every day with a griddle and a bunch of breakfast ingredients and would cook us all blueberry pancakes, bacon, eggs, hashbrowns, the works, just to make the day a little brighter for us, and we'd watch stupid tv shows and movies at dinner (which they provided). There were raffles and silly themed days (like all dressing up one day, or wearing all our industry swag another) and it was in fact a lot of fun, even though I was there for looong hours.

    Working in a creative field does pretty much require you bust ass at some point. Crunch time is the exception, not the rule, and if you don't care about your project enough to be putting in those hours it does suck, but if you care about making a good game then it's not so bad. And yeah for the most part the games industry is a fantastic place to be - usually the hours are somewhat flexible and they are very forgiving about life things like missing your alarm or having appointments during the day or sometimes just taking a day off because you want to. They're trying to make something fun so the encourage you to have a lot of fun too.

    I mean... You'd be making games, remember? If you don't care about the projects you do, don't waste the space that someone who would care could have.
    Where do you work?... You guys sound amazing. Places my friends have worked at sounded like concentration camps.

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    Every job around will have different kind of stress levels, unless you've found a perfect thing like a night shift as a security guard in a place where there'll never ever happen anything worse than a leak from the taps.

    I myself work in something that has absolutely nothing to do with art whatsoever, but I have high seasons, and my shifts varies between 7 days straight including some 12 hrs shifts all 24 hrs to normal 8-4 hours. But I always know that July and August will be hell because of vacation time, and when winter really comes it's really, really stressful.

    Ask any nurse and you'll hear stories about hellish shift managment and too little hours for what they're supposed to do. Any person working in anything tourist related will be able to tell you exactly when they have their "crunch" time. Anyone working in the TV buisness will tell you that their projects have higher and less stresslevels depending on the project and where they are in it. Teachers knows when they'll be able to have a little free time and when they have to put lots and lots of personal time into whatever is going on at school, preparing and afterwork. Truckers will know that some parts of the year or in times where something sells really well, work load will be higher and the demands for them getting there faster higher. Even selling properties, banking and working in specialized stores has high and low seasons. Or "crunch" time.

    Basically, mostly every job you do will affect you. Even 8-4/9-5 jobs will affect you. Even if you don't take your work home, your brain and mind will sometimes stay behind at work when you're supposedly eating a nice Sunday dinner with you family.

    However, if you actually do something you actually love instead of doing "just something" will make your life richer I think. A person loving to be on the road is a lot better trucker and a much happier person than one that couldn't think of any other option or ended there without any real wish behind it. There's people wanting be mechanics their whole life, and you can be sure they'd treat your car with love. There's people that is just totally born to be within healthcare (and boy, do they have my respect!), etc, etc, etc.

    If you happen to love art, you want to work with art, and you use a lot of your time doing art, well... then maybe a career within art is something for you? I have a friend that always loved to make food. I'm sure being a chef is tons more rewarding for that friend than being an engineer. Even chefs have "seasons".

    Basically, what I'm saying is that "crunch time" can be transferred into almost all jobs. A lot of jobs require your brain working at home even if you're supposed to be off.

    However, even if Jason put it a little awkward, the more fire and energy and high wishes you have for whatever you do, the better you'll be to do it. I don't think Jason meant to say that every artist is a bad parent (sorry Jason ) but that you have that inner drive to make it. But, as with every other job out there, there is ways not to be on work 24/7, which I don't think is healthy for anyone. But for crunch times? Sure. A lot of the jobs around have a "crunch" time, it's just called "high season" or something else. Being a freelancer is way to get away from crunch. Hire yourself out for projects instead of a steady employment another. There's a lot of "professionals" (in lack of a better label) on this site that actually doesn't work for a game company, and some of them will be as much or more stressed, other less. But I imagine there'll be times where they do more than at other times. And don't forget that just being a manager for yourself might end up being a lot more stressful, since you have to dole out your hours yourself, get your jobs yourself, etc.

    I hate the high seasons at work. But I also kind of love it. Because I'm proud of what I can achieve. And I know I'm good at it. I'm sure that if I one day in the future manage to get into a buisness that touches art, I'll have the same thing. But there is always one thing to remember, and that is that stressing out will usually make you less efficient than if you just do it. And loving what you do is a good start on that.

    No idea if I actually managed to say what I wanted here. And sorry for the long read.
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  32. #21
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    When did all this thurst for art turn into a religion? I mean, this is a place where people who are artists, people who have at least half a brain and know how to use it come to share insight about art, about thoughts, about visions. But when did the desire to earn a living through art become an excuse to be a mindless slave?

    Jason, it goes without saying that you are a respected artist, you inspire many, myself even. No one ever said things are for free in life, but hey, life is also too short to turn ourselvs into mindless self-motivated machines that make millions for opportunists in business suites. Doing so we are spending our time not improving the world around us, we may make a buck extra but others make alot more exploiting us and we also give newer generations a world that is worse. It's treachery.

    There is a line between working hard to imporve and working hard to survive. When artists make up excuses of the like that everyone must be expected to become a slave and to not recieve benefits that others died for for newer generations to enjoy, then there is a problem with the way people think, and that is dangerous. No reward is worth the consequences of such a way of thinking.

    Does the company need artists working 24/7? Then their execs should make a couple of millions less and they should hire more arists, it's not like there aren't plenty. Why should you and I take it up the shaft for peanuts? This logic has led to this damn situation the world is in.

    As for passion vs leisure Dusty mentioned. It's good you found a place and an environment where you feel good Dusty, I think that is a productive way to evolve. But I'd like your opinion on whether you think those Halo projects and other high profile games couldn't be made under better conditions and with more people working on the games.

    Oh and as for the 'priviledge' excuse those dudes make up, why is it that whenever a company wants to squeeze the life out of it's employees it's their 'priviledge' to be working there? Maybe they should also charge people to work for them!

    Sorry if I seem to have an angry tone to what I am writing, it's just that I feel that we should be making things better for ourselvs and for everyone, and not feel like we are blessed for being the chosen worker-boy of a money-weilding 'master'.

  33. #22
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    To refer to it as "slavery" is about as far from the truth as one could get. I love my job, the company is great, the work is fun. I was just saying the other day to someone how great it is to have a job where you don't fear monday, but welcome it as to get back to the project. Don't get me wrong, i love my weekends, but i don't think i'd want to be in any other field doing anything else. to call working in the game industry as an artist "slavery" is a joke, but i guess it depends on who you work for.
    "I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain."
    --- Frank Herbert, Dune - Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear

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  34. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by ArtZealot View Post
    To refer to it as "slavery" is about as far from the truth as one could get. I love my job, the company is great, the work is fun. I was just saying the other day to someone how great it is to have a job where you don't fear monday, but welcome it as to get back to the project. Don't get me wrong, i love my weekends, but i don't think i'd want to be in any other field doing anything else. to call working in the game industry as an artist "slavery" is a joke, but i guess it depends on who you work for.

    "Slavery" is usually someting you call it when not liking what you're working with
    "The fact that no one understands you doesn't make you an artist"

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  35. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jason Manley View Post
    I love the games industry. Then again I am a workaholic...always have been even when I was first starting out. If you are only in it for a nine to five job and then home to drink beers and watch tv you are dead in the water. those who make it in games bust ass at work and at home on their own skills. Freelance or not. its a lifestyle. its an art and it requires a lot of time and effort. Such is life.

    There will be no unions in games that I can see. Never say never but it sure looks unlikely. If you are not happy in your job and you have the skills then go elsewhere. That is the same no matter what field you are in. If you want the nine to five, be a banker and go home and play with the kids after work.
    I appreciate you weighting in on this topic. While I'm sure I couldn't keep up with the work schedule you're accustomed to, I certainly did not want to give the impression i'd be expecting "wiggle room" in the work day to browse the internet on the clock and discuss, at length, last nights game at the water cooler before getting productive. My instructor worked at Industrial Light and Magic before getting into the game industry (where i'm sure they work long hours too) and he still said the game industry was a bit too much.

    Of course, I don't know first hand, but it doesn't sound to me like an issue of long hours as much as it is about being exploited. If the case were that artists were just unprepared for their responsibility's in the field or they came to find they were just not cut out for it, then they would (as you say) just find another job. Hearing about EA's lawsuit was a bit of a red flag for me however. Pursuing legal action, to me, indicates they felt more exploited than merely exhausted, and the fact that EA lost means someone not in the field of games and therefore not influenced by the culture agreed (at least to some degree) that exploitation was happening.

    The difference with freelance work and what made it more favorable, as it was described to me, was not that it was less work, but that the game company recognized the works value more since they actively looked to an outside party to get it. They realize you as an artist (or a company of artists) are doing them a service (either because they are behind schedule with the staff they have or because none of their staff can make art) and therefore are not going to rake you over the coals with the condition of the arrangement. Enjoying that position of negotiation, even if just to keep both sides honest, seems important to maintain.

    What I seem to be hearing is that artists on staff are treated more like "asset creation machines" than valued members of the game production team. I understand in games there is a tight schedule and many unforeseeable set backs that can't be helped. I understand how the programmers could be considered more valuable since they are actually writing the code for the game, and therefore get paid more. But unless you want games to go back to looking like Pong and Pac-man good artists are needed, right?

    On the other side of that, as an artist you're always told to recognize the value of your time and realize you're providing others with a service they need. Not allowing others to exploit your time is part of the business of being a professional artist. I just don't quite understand how that mentality translates to artists in the game industry.
    Does one just need to be fine with the possibility of being exploited? Is it just the culture of the artists in that field to not have a large life outside of work? What happens if you get burn out after 8 years and now you have no job, few close friends, no wife and kids and no hobbies? How do you even make good art when you're at the same computer making the same orcs and space marines all the time? Not that i'm against the grind of the job but...shit, one just shouldn't expect time to be able to go home to do anything but sleep?

    Quote Originally Posted by fersteger View Post
    Hey Mute, did the people you know who had bad experiences all work at the same studio? !
    No, the people I talked to worked for many different game studios large and small. My family member did art for large and small companies on staff and freelance from the late 80's through to the mid 90's and my instructor worked for large companies in the ealry 2000's.

    Rock on!
    Last edited by Mute; May 9th, 2009 at 09:43 PM.
    ...my humble and uneducated opinion.

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  36. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sorknes View Post
    "Slavery" is usually someting you call it when not liking what you're working with
    Work for me for free on something you like, how's that?

    Liking and not liking isn't the question here. Each one here likes art and loves being an artist. Fairness, rights, better working conditions etc is what it's about. The original poster wanted to know what it was like working in the games industry. Like every industry there are places that are good and there are places that are bad. Closing down or reforming the bad places is a must, but also to create a menatality where one doesn't HAVE to work more than they ought to and without compensation is something that has to be fixed also. You can't get that by working 12 hours a day and not complaining because you 'love your work'.

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  38. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Line View Post
    Work for me for free on something you like, how's that?

    Liking and not liking isn't the question here. Each one here likes art and loves being an artist. Fairness, rights, better working conditions etc is what it's about. The original poster wanted to know what it was like working in the games industry. Like every industry there are places that are good and there are places that are bad. Closing down or reforming the bad places is a must, but also to create a menatality where one doesn't HAVE to work more than they ought to and without compensation is something that has to be fixed also. You can't get that by working 12 hours a day and not complaining because you 'love your work'.
    I guess I am spoiled then. I'm growing up in a country where working for free certainly does happen, but where it's actually not supposed to be neither required nor expected.

    If you look at the post above the one you quote, you'll see that I'm trying hard (even if it's not coming out clearly enough maybe) to show what WHATEVER work you do, it WILL follow you at home. Meaning even if you're not actually doing any work, it'll be close by your mind. Your Sunday dinner with family will not always be free of thoughts of your work. Your parties with friends will contain speeches or talks about your work- good or bad, and discussions. Basically, if you manage to get a job where you can positively lay it behind the moment you walk out the door at the scheduled time and NEVER EVER talk or think about it when not being in the building, I'd be very intersted in knowing what kind of job you do, and if it's actually bringing in enough bread money.

    But as said, I live in a place where I would expect to get paid for my hours. If not getting paid, I would expect getting time off for the extra hours. Which is the way it's sometimes done. Read the post above the one you quoted and hopefully I managed to get things through there.

    If you for some reason read any of my posts as being a posivite backuper for people working free hours all week long every month at whatever year, I either totally managed to screw up my post or you didn't bother to read properly.

    "The fact that no one understands you doesn't make you an artist"

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  39. #27
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    I don't even work in the art industry; I work in the tourism industry. I take people out and tell them stories with the help of a "jumper-oot". Regular tours are three times a week, and we go out if there is even one person booked, no matter what the weather.

    You know what? Sometimes that means I'M working for less than my "jumper-oot". Some tours I make enough money to pay them, but not me. There are very few, very precious days in the year when I can have the luxury of saying that no matter what happens, that day is kept clear, and it has to be for an exceptional reason.

    When I'm not taking people out and entertaining them, my time is spent on maintaining costumes, designing new props, researching stories, marketing and coming up with new ideas.

    What I do is my passion, and it's always sitting on my shoulder, whispering in my ear. There are slack times and there are frantic times. My family come first, but that doesn't mean work isn't always there. Life is a balancing act.

  40. #28
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    No no, you got me wrong, I have real all the posts, I wasn't bashing at you or anything, I was just using what you said to make a point about what is the important issue here. And just because there is no job (save being a billionaire that has no worries anyway) that doesn't follow you around that is EXACTLY the reason why we should not put up with stuff like unpaid overtime and swallow mumbo jumbo like 'being a proud employee of X company'.

    Also, quite the contrary I feel that with the plethora of artists (or people in general on this planet) there is no excuse what-so-ever that anyone should be working more than 4 hours a day and not enjoy the benefits of modern day life. This of course is a utopian thought, but whatever.

    You misunderstood my point Sorknes my friend, I wasn't bashing or anything, maybe my post wasn't that clear hehe. Sorry about that. No offence meant.


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    Where do you work, Line?
    At least Icarus tried!


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  42. #30
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    I used to be a lead artist for a small toy company but I quit after only eight months because the owners were two-bit crooks and it was good I left on time too because the other people who worked there ended up not being paid for months and then the company closed. I don't know if any ever got their money. I left them plenty of finished work for them to work on tho.

    Now I work freelance fulltime, doing work for RPG publishers, band covers and some comic work or I do freelance concept work for local visual effects studios.

    The comic work tho is only one page stuff, like the monster stuff Roy G Krenkel, Frank Frazetta and others did for Creepy, I don't consider myself a comic artist, but the gigs I do are quite fun.

    I had the opportunity of going to England with one of the studio owners who used to work in the games industry as a 3d modeller/animator. He wanted to hook me up with a few people he knew so I could work in the industry. I chose not to, not because I hate the games industry, I don't, I also didn't know anything about it, I just feel that the 'shift' isn't for me, I've worked hard jobs in the past and it all was a means to an end. So was serving in the army.

    Now I am making money from freelance work and I am happy, I will persue higher quality training and a more rigorous training program soon because I want more from my art and maybe it will get me the work I aim to be doing in the future, freelance of course.

    Why do you ask?

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