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The Top 7... Worst jobs in the games industry

1. Faceless, Overworked, Underpaid Programmer/Artist/etc.

A self-described “video game industry widow” on Gamewatch.org, which we referenced earlier, describes her husband’s deteriorating health as he is forced to ignore sleep and his family to keep up with the unruly demands of game development:

“When he interviewed he was told that OT was rarely required. Well, we are now in 6 months of 6 day work weeks with mandatory 12 hour days (actually 14 hour days these past few weeks). No comp time, no overtime pay, no bonuses, nada. Apparently if you make more than $455 per week (23k a year) you are "exempt" in TX.”

Burn.

There’s a shit-ton of pressure on the men and women who build the games that we sit on our couches and enjoy (or critically bash from our desks). Some companies are great, and it isn’t uncommon to hear heartfelt praise from employees, but we’ve also heard a great number of horror stories like the one from our poor “widow.”


Above: According to an anonymous commenter, developing year after year of sports title updates is not fun. How unexpected.

The following is an excerpt from a post about EA Tiburon on Coderific, a site which allows programmers to rate their employers. Bearing in mind that everything on the Internet should be taken with a dump truck of salt, this can at least be taken as an example of the kind of tension which exists between employees and employers in the games industry:

“Their recruiters promise you the sun and moon and a fat benefit package, but you'll want to take your own life within six months. They talk abour work/life balance. Just try to have a life. They won't tell you to work 16 hour days and every weekend. It just sort of works out that way. Derivative titles based on last year's version, and next year you'll be working long, soul destroying hours to increment a '2007' to '2008' on some over-hyped sports title that frankly gets worse every year. Don't like the game teams? Work on a 'central technology' team and be permanently in 'crunch mode' (everybody's deadline is your deadline) pointlessly reinventing wheels forever. Miss a deadline, it's your job. No job security at all. Move to Orlando and discover there's no other employment of this type within 100 miles, so you'll have to MOVE AGAIN when they get tired of you.”

We can't definitively say that the negative criticism outweighs the praise of game industry employers, but it does seem like we hear more bitching than we do joyous recommendations. Perhaps that’s just because there’s more motivation to bitch than there is to praise, or perhaps it’s evidence of widespread anger and disillusionment within the games industry.

Did we miss something? Have we misrepresented your awesome job? Or maybe we weren’t hard enough on it. Maybe you just think we’re a bunch of assholes and would like to tell us so. Good, tell us all about it in our forums. Either that, or distract yourself with more Top 7 lists of things we've noticed about things.

Jun 23, 2008

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Top 7

23 comments

  • joekwalee - August 6, 2014 7:07 a.m.

    Currently working at Kwalee and its absolutely awesome! I think any job can be shit but its all about finding the right company tbh. Have a look for yourself they are hiring a variety of positions. http://www.kwalee.com/careers/ Lunchtime mariokart and free fruit plus some insane games what more could you ask for?!?
  • Oakenwood - February 14, 2014 8:30 p.m.

    First GameArtist's advice is great forming connections with people in the industry is one of the most important things you can do to get a job - you could also try to find some industry news sites and start a blog profile there - post your interesting ideas about games and you'll definitely get noticed by some industry executives- 2. You could try working overseas in developing markets like China - a lot of Chinese game studios are working their way into western markets and need native gamers to help out with localization, game testing, development and marketing - you can find these jobs on expat forums or by emailing some of the larger Chinese companies directly 3. You can start doing customer service - this job teaches a lot about people and if you do it for a small company that grows quickly you have a great chance to move into game operations and publishing as these areas have a lot of crossover - just do what you love and don't worry if you start in a low position passion and pride in your work will take you far - Good luck
  • GameArtist9090909 - February 3, 2014 6:41 a.m.

    Passion plays a big part. If you can convince whomever is hiring you that you love what you do and you have that drive to deliver that goes a long way. Portfolios can be worked on regardless of education and there are so many good online resources available. Linkedin is great for connecting with current game experts and can help you make invaluable contacts. The same for forums were people in the industry will give you feedback and advice on work you post..for free! Although a degree can help you 'stand out' it isn't the be all end all. I have written a book on getting into the games industry, 'How to Become a Game Designer' by Joshua Brown. http://www.amazon.co.uk/How-Become-Game-... Take a read if you're interested :)
  • jeff-ryan - January 10, 2014 2:45 p.m.

    BTW here is the company I work with to test games... vgtester.com
  • jeff-ryan - January 10, 2014 2:31 p.m.

    As a tester right now I do agree it can be a tedious job but I think its rewarding for two reasons. 1. I am learning to become a developer by looking at the game from different angles 2. The surveys challenge me to think about what I really like about the game.
  • mark-santangelo - December 23, 2013 1:35 p.m.

    Has any of you guys tried this site? It looks like a fun job... http://bit.ly/JlqtmX
  • ronald-ulysseys - November 11, 2013 5:54 a.m.

    Doesn't matter anyway if it sucks or not. Unless you know anyone in the biz that can guarantee you a job, you're not getting a job in video games.
  • justin-hurd - November 4, 2013 9:56 a.m.

    Hi, I was wondering if anyone in the video game industry (that works currently in like programming or testing or anything) could tell me where I should start in getting a career in gaming. What are the best jobs, What kind of schooling should I get, how long do I have to go to school, etc. just those kinds of things. I would greatly appreciate it :)
  • FacetiousPhallus - November 20, 2012 11:29 a.m.

    I have worked as a jr. game programmer at a small game start up and i both agree and disagree with #1. on one hand yeah it's very likely if you work on any aspect of game development that doesn't require a you will work long hours and late nights. it's not a given but given the nature of games and the ability to always make them better it's a real possibility . On the other hand we are extremely fortunate while another persons daily task list may be to organize files or make someone a sandwich when they walk through the door we get cool task like making main menus or implementing functionality on the next gun type. the fact you get to work on cool tasks with brilliant and very cool people is awesome . It's not lal peaches but i definitely think as developers we get ab better leg up than testers , as a jr. game programmer i got paid more than senior game testers ( confirmed by my producer who began testing at very large game developer) for way less tedious work . which is more monotonous tweaking an A.I. path-finding algorithm or playing through level 5 and doing a playthrough where you try to bump against every section of a levels boundary to check if it's possible to fall through? yeah no question lol. I have to say the whole " Life in the game industry isn't all bad argument" is always lost on me when someone mentions Valve....there's a reason valve is considered the mecca of game development studios.....and one does not simply walk into Valve XD
  • tyler_14_420 - May 4, 2012 6:20 p.m.

    Best job I ever saw related to games would be working at a local LAN Cafe (It was essentially just a place where people came to rent out Xboxes, etc. Like an internet cafe, but for consoles). When the manager was leaving, the guy came on shift, manager said to him "Just make sure nobody steals anything." and the guy popped open his laptop and started playing Starcraft 2. I can't say I've ever been paid to play Starcraft 2 (Although I have spent a good portion of some of my shifts browsing Facebook, Reddit, and playing Angry Birds on my phone).
  • mrmorozov987 - December 21, 2010 9:27 p.m.

    @sleepy92ismypsn You couldn't be more wrong. A friend of mine had a brief stint in game testing, in which he spent 3 hours straight turning off and on a console, listing to the braindead manager accuse him of stealing company supplies (i.e. pens and paper), and subsequently getting fired. Yes, I'm sure they're keeping secret how fun it is.
  • sleepy92ismypsn - September 15, 2010 12:15 a.m.

    That buzz guy looks just like paul ryan. As bad as you say being a tester is It still sounds like fun as long as you test for a company that makes good games. I bet they keep how fun it really is a secret so everybody doesn't try to become one.
  • SilverWerewolf - November 18, 2008 10:41 p.m.

    Retail Employee? Are you kidding me? I work at Gamestop and nine times out of ten the customers are quite nice. Jerks do come in, but they don't stick around long and they even provide a good laugh from time to time. The last jerk I dealt with was at the Lich King midnight release.
  • tyler_14_420 - May 4, 2012 6:16 p.m.

    You're considerably lucky then. It's widely known that Retail Employees at EB Games are often some of the most mistreated employees around. Why? 1. They have to deal with kids. These kids waste time begging you to sell them M rated games, run around screaming, etc. 2. You have to deal with Parents, often asking for a "PlayCube 360" and proceeding to get extremely upset when you don't get them what they ask for, even if it doesn't exist 3. You get called for Battletoads. Thanks 4chan 4. The truth of the matter is, every kid thinks it would be super awesome to work at a game store (I.E: EB Games) so you don't have much job security. It's not like it's an obscure store that occasionally gets a resume in. They put a hiring sign up and there would be a line-up of applicants. Sad but true.
  • KirbyCupcake - November 10, 2008 9:24 p.m.

    You've just turned me off working in gaming, lol.
  • tyler_14_420 - May 4, 2012 6:18 p.m.

    Don't let that turn you off of working in the industry. Just avoid the terrible positions. Game Tester? Working at EB Games? Shittiest jobs in the industry. Design Associate? Character Artist? Level Designer? All incredibly rewarding positions, depending which company you work for. Valve is one example of a company that would be great to work in (If you're well suited for that type of environment).
  • PiplupChimcharTurtwigOhMy!!! - September 22, 2008 10:41 p.m.

    cool
  • abovedefault - September 14, 2008 4:44 a.m.

    I currently work full time at NOA, and I happen to love it there, and I couldn't imagine a better job for myself right now. If you want a more informed view so you can correct your article, let me know.
  • GamesRadarCharlieBarratt - September 3, 2008 10:20 p.m.

    That picture of Paul never gets old. They're both wearing glasses!!!
  • scbyfn4evr - November 4, 2008 7:21 p.m.

    Abovedefault....have you worked at EVERY game company? If you have, feel free to "correct" their article. Otherwise, enjoy your job, and leave theirs to them.

Showing 1-20 of 23 comments

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