The issue of 'quality of life' for game developers has been once again thrust into the spotlight, following a recently reported
weblog entry from an Electronic Arts employee's spouse, and legal action regarding excessive uncompensated working hours from separate EA employees.
In relation to this, the International Game Developers Association (IGDA
) has posted a new open letter
on the issue, titled "Quality of Life Issues are Holding Back the Game Industry." The letter, signed by the entire IGDA Board of Directors, argues that the situation at hand is a vicious cycle, in part a result of fundamental changes within the industry.
In particular, the evolution of technology, one-sided contracting and possible lack of project management expertise are singled out as contributing to the quality of life issue. But the letter also notes that developers may also be a part of the problem, in part due to submitting themselves to extreme working conditions, as well as the need to prove themselves to their peers, commenting: "Our own attitudes towards work/life balance and production practices need to change just as much as the attitudes of the 'suits.'"
The IGDA letter then goes on to accentuate the positive, citing companies such as BioWare, Firaxis, Team17, Blue Fang, Cyberlore and Ensemble as examples that have proven that a focus on quality of life can lead to great titles.
It also dissuades those calling for unionization of game developers via the IGDA, explaining that the organization cannot become a union, nor is it a union. This is due to the fact that it's a non-profit professional association, one with a different role - also, being an international organization, union forming would be outside of its organizational scope.
However, the IGDA goes on to state that it will be holding a 'best companies to work for' initiative, one in which the association will provide awareness of the more enlightened companies and their practices within the industry. This will be followed up with a full-day qualify of life think-tank event
at the Game Developers Conference [part of the CMP Game Group, as is Gamasutra] during March 2005.