Gamer Hate

Belligerently lacking in remorse.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

You’re Fired! Losing your job in the game industry…
Part 3

Sometimes you go to a company and everything seems fine on the surface. The people seem good, the project seems right up your alley, the office seems okay at first glance. Then you actually start working there and you slowly realize you’ve been tricked. That huge salary increase was in actuality hazard pay for having to deal with one of the shittiest development cycles ever imagined by man or demon. Your boss is an alcoholic power mongering dominatrix, your co-workers are on auto-pilot and don’t really give a damn about making a good game (or perhaps any game at all), and the roof of the office leaks water ONTO YOUR COMPUTER threatening you with DEATH BY ELECTROCUTION…

Being thrust into that situation would make most people with any talent turn around and immediately leave, but I have a thing about completing projects I start on. So I bared with it and though the end product was a miserable pile, I did get to do a lot of writing and design which I enjoy. Certainly, I’ll never see any acclaim for it given that the product as a whole resembled a 5th grade student’s C- science project, but I feel good about my contributions and am fairly certain that the game would never have shipped at all without them. In fact, I was told exactly that on numerous occasions by various members of the company. Despite that, I was planning on moving on to a new company until I heard what the next project would be.

The new project was pretty compelling for me and I was given a slight promotion (though not to a lead position) so I decided to tough it out a bit. Sadly, despite having an entirely new team to work with, the people in charge were still simpering morons who had no idea what they were doing. This time, instead of being an alcoholic, my lead was a complete idiot who had probably not played a video game of any sort since 1992. The rest were no better, and some thought that they should be allowed to get their noses into my business even though they were in a completely different field and had no clue what they were talking about. I love feedback and suggestions, just not stupid ones.

But I worked diligently on the project, sometimes going around or above my lead to get things done and often being slapped on the wrist for doing so. It’s the only time in my entire career where I would consistently be punished for trying to make things better and attempting to get my job done. What I found was that after a certain amount of being smacked down for doing a good job, you tend to cease caring about getting your work done and start concentrating on fixing the problems that hinder you from getting your work done. In my unfortunate case, all of the problems were people, and the company had a strict policy of only putting incompetent people in positions of power over their talent (sometimes extremely talented people, mores the pity).

My dilemma was also compounded by the fact that no one in a position of power above the morons in charge of me would know the difference between a person who does my job well and one who does it incredibly poorly. I was also having trouble finding a new job at the time. It seemed that just as I was getting into talks with a company, there would be mass layoffs and whoever was going to bring me in for an interview was gone. In furtherance of that, my reputation had been so tarnished by my boss from my first industry job (see Part 1) that anyone who had previously worked there and was now at a new company would deny me an interview because of what they had heard (and that was 3 years ago, people can change ya know).

I didn’t want to work there, but I couldn’t collect severance if I quit and finding a new job that I actually wanted wasn’t working out. I had only one logical out. I needed them to fire me.

You see, in my state, you can’t tell anyone that you fired someone or anything about the incident that caused it. To do so would get you immediately sued (and though I’ve never personally sued anyone, nor do I want to, the money you can get from such lawsuits can be many years worth of salary so companies tend to keep things very hush-hush). I already had an idea of what I wanted to do to make it happen as well.

In the recent past the company had worked with a publisher wholly owned by one person. That person was an ego-maniac with a Napoleon complex, so I knew it wouldn’t take much to set off a chain reaction that would end in my expulsion. The company no longer worked with this person and I’m 100% certain they never would have again, so I wasn’t going to be hurting any friends who stayed at the company if I did something dramatic with the ex-publisher. But they had a good parting of ways so I knew that there would be an instant cry for retaliation if I hit him where it hurts (his ego). In addition, his involvement in the game was what ultimately turned what could have been a fun new platformer into a flat and boring brand advertisement. The majority of the exciting moves the character was able to do early on in the game were pulled out when the publisher cried out that they weren’t realistic enough. Cause that’s what people want in games… Realism… (sarcasm off, no wait, it’s stuck in the on position).

What made me think of this particular publisher was a press release that had come out that stated that the publisher had found a new development team to handle his next project. He likened the new team to working with a star basketball player. He claimed it was like writing plays for Michael Jordan and then watching him execute them. So I wrote him an e-mail. I told him that it was indeed just like that. Except that whenever Jordan would start leaping into the air for a slam dunk, the publisher would rush out and stop him, claiming that his jumps were unrealistic.

I didn’t even have to wait a day. I was summoned to the HR office that afternoon. You see, the great thing about having morons in charge, is that trivial matters like a publisher you’re never going to work with again being insulted by one of your employees becomes top priority since they have no idea what they’re doing the rest of the time. This was a raw event that even a simpleton could grasp. The outcome was a foregone conclusion. At least, I thought it would be. Turns out I was wrong.

I was talked to and despite being belligerently lacking in remorse, I was not fired. I signed a piece of paper acknowledging that I’d been talked to and despite me telling them that were I in their position, I would have fired me, they simply filed the paper away and kept on. Well, for a while at least… Apparently they had other plans to punish me.

I was moved to one of their sister companies… And that is a whole other tale.

posted by CommanderHate at 5:53 pm  

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