Hundreds, if not thousands of people are behind the creation of the most beloved video game titles. There’s a reason why the credits are as long as those seen in cinematic movies. It’s a showcase of the masterclass of talent which went into its creation. They thank everyone from the head honchos like Creative Director and Lead Scriptwriter to its voice acting cast, animators and composers.
But what about people who constructed ideas for beloved sections or designed a key weapon, but left the company before the game was fully published? Surely they deserve to be thanked for their dedication? Or the interns, with their new vision and desire to upskill into a new trade, possibly becoming a new employee?
An ongoing complex debate this is not, in my opinion. Anyone who has hard work put into a finished game, DLC, or related product deserves to be thanked for the effort. Freelancers might only be required for a single item, or for short shifts – it’s the backbone of their style of work, and many will not see the credit for it in the way an employee of a studio would.
The Thank You’s and Dedications even expand to include pets at some studios, and many will highlight babies born during the years of production.
Everyone deserves to have their hard work displayed, to be able to point and say “I did that”. Why should employees who worked on Grand Theft Auto V – the most profitable piece of media of all time – not receive that accreditation? Or, furthermore, not be allowed to mention it in their CVs and portfolios of work. It is their work, a display of their expertise, and leaving a company for one reason or another during a development cycle (which can be anything from three to five to even ten years) should not be seen as a reason to exclude.
Why do people leave? Mental health, money, crunch issues. Reports of sexism and other toxic workplace practices such as homophobia and racism are still being over-reported in the media and not reported on enough. In countries where big AAA development studios have several studios in multiple countries working on a single game, there may not be the Labour Unions in place to defend workers rights in such scenarios.
By not crediting everyone who worked on the title, the studio gives the world an insight into what it really thinks of its employees and how much it values them. And it’s not a pretty sight.
People move to work in the industry out of a love of games that changed their life. Many aiming to work on the same franchise which opened their eyes in the first place.
Those in charge at large AAA studios such as Ubisoft and Rockstar and NaughtyDog are facilitating a problem that has such a simple solution: value human creativity. Systematic burnout and reports of employees sleeping in offices rather than going home between shifts in a 60+ hour workweek is appalling. Promoting your ‘biggest launch yet’ and multiple accolades for Game of The Year? Maybe allow everyone who rightfully deserves to cheer you on gather the credit they are due.
It’s not as if it is something difficult to implement either; Hades studio Supergiant Games openly had work communication stop at 5 pm on Fridays to let employees enjoy their weekends off, and as mentioned in their Kotaku interview, have a mandatory 20 days of holiday per year. Thinking sustainably about their practices, and their employees.
And, you know what? Everyone is happy. Everyone is featured in the credits. And Hades won numerous titles like Game of the Year and still is. If someone wants to work a little bit longer, it’s because they enjoy it.
It shouldn’t have to be a radical thought process in the gaming industry, but alas, it exists in a world where sales are more valued than employee longevity. Electing to exclude a name shouldn’t have to be a keystone to larger issues.