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Tim Schafer: Stop laying off your employees once a game is done

The layoff culture that persists in game development has got to stop, says the Double Fine Productions president. "Instead of being allowed to apply those [lessons learned], they are scattered to the winds."
"Instead of being allowed to apply all those lessons to a better, more efficiently produced second game, they are scattered to the winds and all that wisdom is lost."
- Double Fine Productions president Tim Schafer argues that laying off staff following the completion of a game's development is a big mistake. "One of the most frustrating things about the games industry is that teams of people come together to make a game, and maybe they struggle and make mistakes along the way, but by the end of the game they've learned a lot - and this is usually when they are disbanded," he continues. Schafer notes that after the conclusion of Double Fine's own Psychonauts, he very well could have laid staff off, such that the studio would have more money and time to put into Brutal Legend. "But doing so would have meant breaking up a team that had just learned how to work well together. And what message would that have sent to our employees? It would say that we're not loyal to them, and that we don't care." "Which would make them wonder," he adds, "'Why should we be loyal to this company?' If you're not loyal to your team you can get by for a while, but eventually you will need to rely on their loyalty to you and it just won’t be there." Schafer's thoughts on layoffs in the industry come as Tantalus CEO Tom Crago recently said that, due to the volatile nature of the video game industry at the moment, it's impossible for any studio to say that its staff will be secure in their jobs in the coming years.

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