Monday, May 28, 2012

The Benevolence of the Games Industry

Benevolence: The Mark of the
Games Industry
I've been reading a lot about the recent implosion of 38 Studios, which also took out developer Big Huge Games and left multiple hundreds of people unemployed. There's no shortage of ink being spilled on this particular subject. Some pieces take good stabs at completely serious features chronicling what happened and the ramifications of this event.

But some of these very serious articles completely undermine themselves by including one or two lines that completely change my opinion of the entire article.

This is from an article The Verge posted a few days ago (linked above):
A slew of developers from around the country have been Tweeting that they are hiring in hopes of finding the hundreds of displaced employees jobs.
They were (or still are) developers aiming tweets at former 38 Studios employees. But this is an entirely common practice. It's not just when a studio goes does that the HR personnel mobilize to grab the best talent; tweets happen all the time. Does anyone seriously buy the idea that HR personnel have "hopes of finding the hundreds of displaced employees jobs." While not the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard, this one makes the list.

This is how I imagine the conversation running in my head:
"Hey, Kathy, 38 Studios just went under, everyone was fired," says Tom. 
"Yes! I won't have to head-hunt anyone, they'll jump at the chance of working here!" says Kathy, who does a cartwheel and high-fives the nearest person.
HR Happy Dance!
This is what the feature would lead me to believe actually happens.
"Hey, Kathy, 38 Studios just went under, everyone was fired," says Tom.
"Oh, the poor dears," says Kathy. She slumps in her chair, lost momentarily in utter despair. Hope stirs. She stands up, kicks over her chair, starts typing away, and shouts in a booming voice, "We are going to find each and every one of those wretched souls a source of income! Be displaced no more, former employees of 38 Studios!"
I don't like to see anyone lose their job -- unless they're grossly incompetent -- and if I knew a guy that was free to take a job that would be perfect for him, of course, I'd make the recommendation, but I'm not sure why there's an assumption that game developers are selfless is making sure people have jobs. I'm sure other developers feel some sympathy and empathy for employees of 38 Studios, because I think they probably understand that it could just as easily be them that's out of a job, but that single paragraph manages to undermine the professionalism of the entire piece.

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