So here’s my Monday rant…
Finally someone gets it ……
Film and video games are becoming one. Whether you like or not, creatives and developing companies in games must be prepared for the winds of change. I welcome this new direction with open arms. As it is now, most video game companies will not allow artists to work with other video game companies. Some reasons are warranted, most are not. We as artist, have a right to work wherever and whenever we need to to make a living. New contacting policies will allow this, and make it better for all, even cutting down on the cost of development for companies over all. The limitations are unacceptable. Contracting and freelancing *IS* the way of the future in the video game industry. It benefits both the artist and the company. Unionization is also a certainty in the near future and this is something else that artists, and the development/publishing companies must be able to prepare for. Video games are inherently evil in nature when it comes to deadlines and what are commonly known as “crunch time” workloads (often back to back). This is something that goes unchallenged and is *expected of you as an employee of a video game company*. No overtime, just your pre-determined salary as it stands now is all you get. Ok, the standard practice is a few days of “comp time” which is usually an x number of hours (in the case of one employer “40”) is equal to “1” day off. Hmmm… where is the math? And where is the *hard-earned* money the artists are giving away? Video games in order to continue to grow and attract the very best talent, and to continue to prosper in the long run, must be aware… Listen…the faint sounds of the war horns are in the distance……time is near and things they are ‘a changin’….
*Please check out this article published by my buddies over at Digital Artists Management – http://www.digitalartistmanagement.com/ and Digital Artist Management Consultants – http://www.damconsultants.com/… and contact them should you need the very best in artists placement. Great guys and great jobs for a changing marketplace.
*originally published in the Digital Artists Newsletter*
THE CONVERGENCE OF FILMS & GAMES: A Staffing Dilemma
Over the last several years, there have been numerous discussions, debates, and panels dedicated to the convergence of the film and game industries. Much of the dialogue has been centered on plot development, photorealistic graphics, licenses crossing platform lines, and whether or not a game will ever be able to make the player cry.
While all these points are certainly valid topics of discussion and the lines are coming ever-closer to merging, a topic that is seldom discussed is “What is the best staffing methodology for facilitating this convergence?” Although it may not be a flashy subject for a panel at GDC or E3, the benefits associated with Hollywood ‘s practice of hiring product development specialists into temporary, on-site, full-time contract positions is gaining considerable traction within the videogame industry.
Up until now, the game development community has focused almost exclusively on hiring artists, animators, designers, and engineers into full-time positions. This methodology has prevailed because of the desire to secure and retain top development talent, protect intellectual properties, and keep innovations and proprietary technologies confidential until products ship. But in order to meet the development scope for next-generation content team sizes and budgets will likely double or even triple. While there will always be a need to hire and maintain a core team of key players on staff, it is becoming increasingly difficult and, in some cases, unnecessary, to have the entire development team employed in permanent positions. Film and effects houses have long seen the value in contract employment because of the project-oriented nature of their work. Similarly, the project-oriented nature of games development could likewise benefit from utilizing temporary or contract resources on a broader scale.
For employers, hiring contractors immediately eliminates many of the HR, benefits, and insurance costs inherent with hiring each new employee, especially when the staffing agency assumes the liability issues associated with co-employment. Under this scenario, the staffing agency is responsible for the contract employee, including all HR-related issues, payroll, state and federal taxes, workman’s compensation, unemployment, and liability insurance, while the employer gets much-needed resources to alleviate workload and bandwidth pressures on the typically heavily burdened permanent staff. Contract staffing also provides a lot of flexibility for employers to test-run candidates before making a permanent hiring decision based on an interview, a demo reel, or a gut feeling. When the contract is done, there are no false or misconceived expectations, and the employer has the options to move on, renew the contract, or convert the contractor into a permanent employee. Moreover, utilizing contract employees can help companies avoid much of the awkwardness and negative publicity that often results from layoffs and downsizing at the end of a project because most companies cannot financially sustain the entire development team once the product has shipped.
For individual developers, there are some equally compelling benefits to the contract employment model. From a creative perspective, contracting affords the opportunity to work on a variety of different projects over the course of one’s career while broadening one’s network of contacts. Contracting can also provide a stop-gap between permanent employment stints since it’s always nice to receive a paycheck while you’re looking for a permanent job. Most notably, working on contract often allows an individual to get the proverbial “foot in the door” with a studio that may have otherwise been reluctant to make a permanent commitment upfront.
So while the debate over the impending union of film and games content marches on, the benefits of a convergence in hiring practices are becoming increasingly clear.