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Game Over

An appeal to prevent the ongoing bleeding of our industry

I live in New York City. I've always loved the area and its potential. For me, being able to build games in NYC has been a dream come true. I've worked for some great companies and with dedicated, talented, brilliant individuals.

At Kaos, I really learned to be an engineer, to think deeply about issues and resolve them honestly and with good code. I had a handful of amazing mentors each with more than a decade of game experience and a surprisingly well-known assortment of credits (including iconic first person shooters).

The past few months, weeks, and days have seen these gurus leave games, more than likely for the rest of their lives. Three of the brightest engineers I've known are no longer building games. I've witnessed a bleeding out of talent as people have scattered across the wind, vanishing to different countries and states grabbing a variety of new jobs.

So, when I say in my blog posts that our industry needs to change, that we need to find new philosophies, alter our mental models, and generally move towards solving these issues, I am speaking out of immediate experience.

There are those that say, "suck it up." To them, I can only smile. I have a fiancee and most of my friends that have left the industry are married. When it comes down to a question of happiness and security, that will always win out over the frustration of working for a company that is not providing an adequate means of living a fruitful, fulfilled life.

The entire concept of telling employees to “suck it up” is damaging to our industry and our organizations. Without respect for employees, how can we expect them to craft great products? I blame the vast mediocrity I’ve been observing in our industry on soulless work environments without compassion for the developers.

An artist works passionately and fervently on her own painting because she owns it, it embodies her, and it is her life.

That sounds poetic and beautiful, right? But, can it not also be destructive? We often apply this artist mentality to our developers--even though they usually do not have direct control over the product or end result. Yet, have we considered the danger of art? Artists often have self-destructive lives and neurotic anxieties.

The hallmark of the future of our industry will be built on not the games we craft, but the people we cultivate.

So, let’s learn to be compassionate. Let’s learn to respect our people so that they may generate works that are meaningful, engaging, and resonant.

That’s my appeal, let me know what you think!

About the Author

Andrew Andreas Grapsas is a game programmer at Arkadium, Inc. developing casual and social games. He previously worked at THQ and EA as a systems and gameplay programmer on triple-A shooters.

Andrew is actively writing and programming for various projects. You can read more articles exclusively at his blog aagrapsas.com.

Follow Andrew on twitter!

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