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The Case for Revolution

Jim goes big in his first blog post, wherein he stumps for a new, professional vision for the games industry.

Friends-


 Everyone's heard about it or felt it: discontent, and the desire to address the issues that plague the games industry. Unfortunately, these issues are either seen as the price of working in our industry, or aren't effectively addressed; not from a lack of conviction, but from a failure to co-ordinate, to consider the widest perspective.

I respectfully submit that the problem lies in the fact that the veteran developers who spearhead reform efforts, like the leaders of the IGDA and Gamasutra/Gamedevs/Mobygames tend to think and act like, well, *veteran game developers*. 

Please, remain calm, and think about this for a bit.

What I mean is that the current focus is too small. One organization will research and publish, but not motivate; another will snark and snipe and trade horror stories, but offer no practical solutions. Others, admirably, make education and professional development their focus, but fail to develop a personal professional ethic or creed. Worst of all, none effectively represent-- or protect-- the individual developers... yet.

What happens when half the personnel from an indie development house get the pink slip in one day? Who's at fault, the developers? The studio? The publishers? More importantly, how do those suddenly unemployed developers recover, or even survive?  Need I even mention work/life balance, mental health, family and financial issues, burnout, turnover, archaic labor laws, or class-action suits that, in the eyes of a public that has yet to understand our potential, stain an industry that is still in it's infancy?

We need to stop thinking and acting as if we suffer and struggle in a vacuum. We live in the most socially interconnected point in human history. We already possess the resources necessary to solve these problems. We commonly use online social networks, user profiles, job/resume banks, mentorship programs, distance learning resources, and volunteer-outreach programs-- but we need to eliminate the barriers that separate them. We need to look at the big picture, and start thinking about how we can unite existing efforts, either by creating a shared vision for existing organizations, or creating a new organization altogether.

I realize how painfully new I am to this industry; I also know that I'm attempting to do something that people with doctorates are still trying to figure out. I'll just have to exploit the bumblebee's paradox: what I don't know can't stop me. Therefore, I will be publishing a societal vision statement for the professional game development community as a whole. Whether arrogant or innocent, this statement will articulate what I and many other developers hope for: a game industry that has overcome its' worst failings and is capable of fulfilling a destiny far greater than anyone ever dreamed possible.

Over the coming months I'm going to be chronicling my efforts to practice what I preach, acting locally while thinking globally. I expect to fail in many novel and entertaining ways. I accept the possibility that, for my troubles, I may never be allowed to work in the industry again... but it's a fool who puts all his eggs in one basket. The one thing that I cannot do is quit. I've already sacrificed too much, personally, to work on one contract and cut my losses. My developer friends(who are as close to me as the guys I went to Bosnia with) sacrificed too much for me to let them down. All that obstacles do is make me hungrier for victory. This is a profession worth fighting for, and it's time for total war.

In closing, I'd like to say that the best games are made by the best teams, and the best teams know when to overcome individual differences, to safeguard their members,  and work together to create something of lasting worth and beauty.

In service to the Game,

Jim Cook

Professional Game Developer (QA)

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