Sunday, June 30, 2013

A Prime Example of Poor Game Industry Journalism

This terrible article claiming that "the problem with the gaming industry is that developers make too much" is a great example of poor journalism.  It recently made its rounds at work where my fellow developers were horrified and irritated by how wildly inaccurate it is.

Here's a brief rundown of glaring issues with the article:

  1. The author did no actual research into the core of his issue, project budgets.  The largest parts of a game project's budget should be broken into three categories: employee compensation, marketing, and operating expenses.  Employee compensation is nowhere close to the amount that the author claims.  He cites an article showing how a single publisher employs 2000 developers, but he neglects to look closely enough to realize that all of those developers are not working on a single title.  It's a lot more accurate to estimate current gen team sizes as being around 200 for a "triple A" title.  This is typically only for the last year or so of a given project as they finalize content and get the game out the door.  Marketing can easily hit $10,000,000 for a "triple A" title if not much more for a highly successful title.  Operating expenses I can't really quote numbers for, but office space in a place like Los Angeles is pretty expensive.
  2. The average developer compensation of $80,000 per year is heavily biased because most game studios are located in areas that have very high cost of living.  Renting a reasonable 2 bedroom apartment in Los Angeles can easily cost $2,000 per month.  Buying a 2 bedroom condo here can easily cost $400,000.  What kind of developer making $80,000 per year can practically afford a $70,000 car while making rent ($24000/year) and saving up to buy a house to hopefully retire in one day?
  3. This leads into the point that he made a huge fuss over one developer who happened to get extremely lucky.  From the information in the article, I would venture the guess that the guy with the $70,000 car was able to afford the car because he was an early member at Riot Games, who were bought out by Tencent.  In that transaction, the employees there rightfully got nice compensation.  It's no different from any other industry where people form a new company and make a successful product and make some money when they get bought out.
  4. This simple question shows how little thought the author actually put into the article: "Are we to believe there isn't an equally qualified person out there willing to do this guy's job for less pay?"  The simple answer is "yes."  Game development is a highly specialized field where the employees commonly work 70+ hour weeks performing roles that require a lot of training while trying to keep their personal lives from falling apart.  If it were so easy to succeed and make big bucks, then the author himself would do it, wouldn't he? He even lists himself as having "founded his own indie gaming developer called Penguin Run Games that creates play-by-post online roleplaying games."  He must be enjoying the highly lucrative, easy life too, right?
Maybe his degree in criminology didn't teach him enough about game development... or journalism for that matter.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

12 Years of Automotive Technology

Back in 2001, I graduated from college, so I needed to buy a car to start working.  I was very interested in getting a Toyota Prius because it was a cool new hybrid, but there was a waiting list to get them, so I ended up getting the Camry.  I drove my reliable old Camry for twelve years, until this year.

This time, the Prius was still my first choice when I started car shopping, but a bit of research and test driving convinced me to get the Toyota Camry Hybrid instead.  The Prius is a great car, but the Camry Hybrid really just feels a lot more polished.  It's got a lot more power, but less fuel efficiency.  It's very quiet and smooth, so I keep describing it to people as "a spaceship."

So far I'm averaging over forty miles per gallon without any problems and enjoying the power climbing through Sepulveda pass on my way to work.  It's amazing how much the driving experience has improved in twelve years since I bought my last car.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Modern Justice?

Why is it that nowadays, a hacker who helps obtain evidence to convict rapists faces more time than the rapists? Where are our priorities as a society? Who would you rather have as a neighbor?
  1. a guy who hacks into a website to post legally obtained evidence about criminals
  2. some guys who repeatedly rape a girl and post videos of it online.
When our justice system completely defies common sense, we should try to change it.