I saw Jason Della Rocca doing a talk once at Develop in Brighton. He is so cool he drew his presentation as he was speaking, doodling little graphs and stuff... I remember thinking that some day I should steal that idea, because it was fun and helped to engage the audience lots.
He said a lot of very interesting stuff, mostly about how Dev studios tend to create unhappy and unsafe environments for their staff through common practices such as fixed term contracts, lack of time invested into properly integrating people into their teams, lack of 'fun budgets', not paying people well enough, not providing enough benefits, forcing people to work overtime... that kind of thing. They do it because they think it saves money, right? I've been in that kind of company before in fact. But he pointed out that the cost of recruiting and training new people to fill in the gap left by high staff turnovers, and the loss of quality in the overall work makes it ultimately cost the developer more, in lots of ways.
I can't say it as well as he did. But you get the gist. It's something I really believe in. It was cool to hear him say it better than me
That same week at Develop, I told one of my friends about a job opening in a studio that I knew of. He laughed and said that he would never, ever work for that studio because of the horror stories he'd heard, about excessive unpaid overtime, unfair dismissal, low pay, an atmosphere totally devoid of creativity, etc. It made me think... imagine the kind of people that studio employs. It must only be able to scrape the very bottom of the barrel for employees... people with no talent, or people who are desperate for work... because nobody in their right mind would consider working for them in that kind of environment. In contrast, think about the level of excellence set by companies like Double Fine, which is obviously a company that promotes a creative and happy atmosphere... and it shows.
On one project that I worked on before, there was a lot of overtime involved, but we had the most excellent Producer. She made sure that we were well-treated, our work was respected, and made it feel like the team coming together for one last push before the end of the project, instead of making it feel like we were prisoners to our work. She got us enthused about it. Before that though, I'd worked on a project where I was made to feel like my overtime, even though there was less of it, was obligatory. It was miserable. Simply having one person try to keep staff morale high makes such a huge difference.
Er... I have no idea why I went off on that little rant. I think I was talking about how I love Jason della Rocca for saying all that stuff I just said, but better, and more convincingly because he has been around for years, whereas I'm still just a baby