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In the ever-evolving landscape of game development, the pandemic has stirred an unexpected debate about working conditions and what the future holds for those in the industry.
For many game developers, San Francisco has always been a bustling hub. But as Brandon noted, “What is up in San Francisco? Are you guys still alive over there?” to which Ray responds “Yeah, man, we’re still here.” He goes on to highlight a pertinent topic – Return To Office (RTO). With many getting pulled back into the office, this transition has sparked much discussion and concern. Ray remarked on the changing perspectives, “You have to be able to hire globally. And so things like RTO and other things like that do impact that.”
This debate isn’t limited to whether or not to return to the office. It taps into the essence of how work is conducted in the modern era. Is there an inherent limitation to a remote career, as many executives opine? Ray challenges this notion, “I manage a very remote, globally distributed team…All of that stuff starts falling apart when you are looking for people that are talented, have skills.”
Drawing from historical precedence, many companies weren’t prepared for a remote-first setup before the pandemic. “They never had very much the opposite, the strongly opposed,” Brandon observes, recounting how, just two months prior to the pandemic, many establishments were staunchly against remote working.
The game industry has seen ripple effects from these changing paradigms. As companies began to adapt and build infrastructure for remote work during the height of the pandemic, many now seem to be reverting to their older, more traditional ways of operation. But it’s not all gloom and doom. As Brandon highlighted, there’s a silver lining. Some companies have retained their remote-first ethos, reflecting a more inclusive and globalized approach to work.
However, as with any seismic shift in the industry, there are bound to be hiccups. Brandon noted a trend on LinkedIn, “People who kind of went on this rage quitting, you know, at the high pandemic to pursue new opportunities… are now begging for their old jobs back.”
This reverting trend isn’t just limited to the gaming industry. Tech giants like Google and Facebook have also seen a shift in their working cultures. As Brandon humorously points out, there’s a move from pampering employees with “spa day Wednesdays” and “sleeping pod Tuesdays” to a more work-focused approach.
In an age where rapid technological advancements meet traditional work norms, the game development industry stands at a crossroads. As companies, developers, and stakeholders navigate this maze, the hope remains that the industry will find a balance that champions both productivity and the well-being of its workforce.
A Closer Look at Productivity and Management
In an age where remote work has transitioned from an experimental approach to a fundamental necessity, questions about productivity, the role of management, and the evolving expectations of the younger workforce frequently arise.
“Studies suggest that individuals claim to be more productive when they work from home,” Ray shared. This notion contradicts the once popular belief that the best ideas and productivity stemmed from communal spaces like open offices, teeming with amenities like spas, massage chairs, and pool tables. “If you’re doing solitary work, you’re more productive at home,” he further emphasized.
However, productivity is not solely a factor of the environment. The intrinsic nature of an individual, whether they are inherently diligent or prone to lethargy, plays a pivotal role. A common perspective voiced was: “Productive people are always productive, regardless of the situation.” The elimination of factors like daily commutes could further enhance the output of such individuals.
The ongoing pandemic has further complicated the employment landscape. Tech giants like Facebook have been making headlines with their layoffs. “Every month, 10,000 jobs are cut from Facebook,” Brandon remarked, shedding light on the uncertainty many face.
Yet, amidst this turbulence, some industries, like Artificial Intelligence, seem to be thriving. But the cyclical nature of such trends also brings into focus the sustainability of hopping from one booming sector to another.
A remarkable observation was made about employees who, during the pandemic, chose to work remotely for companies without considering the team dynamics. Now, as the world moves towards a hybrid model, some of these employees are yearning for the camaraderie they once shared with their previous colleagues. The human aspect of working, the mere interaction with peers, can often outweigh the comfort of working in isolation.
The conversation took an intriguing turn when the attitudes of the younger generation, particularly Gen Z, towards work were brought into focus. A growing sentiment among them is to bypass the traditional trajectory of gaining years of experience before stepping into management roles. They prioritize life over work, seeking job roles that align with their lifestyle desires like working limited days for decent pay.
Some argue that the conventional model of management, especially in the tech industry, is flawed. Promotions based on tenure rather than competency, coupled with the lack of formal training for managerial roles, often leads to ineffective leadership. Does this make the ambitions of Gen Z any more audacious?
A rising trend, especially among the younger workforce, is the concept of ‘quiet quitting’ – a scenario where an employee mentally checks out of their job and does the bare minimum. If managers fail to recognize this, it not only highlights the employee’s disengagement but also underscores the manager’s inadequacy.
The work landscape is undeniably changing, influenced by evolving perspectives on work-life balance, the increased feasibility of remote work, and the aspirations of the younger generation. As we navigate these shifts, it becomes imperative to find a harmonious balance that caters to the well-being of employees while ensuring that businesses remain productive and competitive.
From VC Investments to Challenges in Game Development
The evolving dynamics of the gaming industry, especially in the context of the pandemic, were also discussed. The conversation broached topics from the dedication and productivity of workers to investment trends and emerging challenges in the gaming industry.
The gaming industry has always had a unique working culture. Like many other fields, there are those who put in their day jobs, only to head home and dive into side projects. While this hustle is admirable, the last two years have shown that this can lead to gains being “delayed, pushed back, not accomplished, basically half-assed,” Brandon noted. This mindset has led many to question the efficiency of such work practices. “The idea that you’re not just lying to the employee, you’re lying to yourself that you’re thinking you can juggle both effectively is a fallacy,” he added.
However, the more pressing issue is the larger impact on the gaming industry. Investors, once eager to fund innovative gaming projects, are becoming wary. “All the money’s drying up for good projects, for good people, because of all these bad practices,” was a sentiment echoed by many. This raises an important point: while individual productivity matters, it’s the collective impact that can shift industry-wide trends.
But is this investment hesitation solely based on the productivity issues, or are there broader economic factors at play? The general sentiment seems to lean towards the latter. “The money is drying up because of the economy, interest rates,” Ray pointed out, emphasizing the inherent risk in investing in video games. “Investing in a video game is crazy town,” he said. “You have to believe in the team that’s building it, and even then, you could still lose everything.”
The discussion also touched on the game industry’s potential. Historically viewed as recession-proof, its growth shows no signs of slowing. In fact, making a game is no longer just about the game itself. It’s now about creating a franchise, an IP that extends to movies, TV shows, merchandise, and more. Games today have the potential for a “Star Wars impact.”
But all’s not rosy. There’s a noticeable skepticism towards some venture capitalists (VCs) who, as one expert said, seem to have the attitude of “I don’t fuck with games.” This might stem from experiences with bad practices and broken promises. The increasing ambition in game development and the challenges therein have also been notable. Despite advancements in technology, “it seems a lot harder to make games nowadays,” Brandon lamented.
One interesting trend noticed during the pandemic was the reflection on personal mortality, leading to many taking risks and starting their own ventures. However, the realities of running a business in the uncertain times of the pandemic have led some to return to the security of established companies. Those who have ventured out and returned bring with them invaluable experiences that can benefit larger organizations.
A noteworthy observation was about younger professionals in the industry. While there’s often criticism about younger generations not wanting to work, those who have run their own companies demonstrate unparalleled drive and work ethic.
In conclusion, the gaming industry is in a transformative phase. While there are challenges to address, from funding to development, there’s a wealth of experience and lessons learned, especially from the last two years, that can guide its future growth. As always, the ability to adapt, learn, and innovate will be key.
The Influencer Generation: Dissecting the New Workplace Paradigm
The rapidly changing dynamics of the modern workplace, largely influenced by the rise of social media influencers and evolving generational priorities, were laid bare.
“Get used to this conversation, right? This is gonna happen,” began the discussion, highlighting the perceived entitlement and evolving behaviors of younger generations, particularly Gen Z. According to Ray, while many see Gen Z as overconfident and entitled, the reality reveals a generation grappling with unprecedented levels of anxiety.
He remarked, “I know a lot of Gen Zers that are anxious all the time…I see a lot of those cases where people are just overcome with anxiety.” While some critics view the younger generation’s sensitivity to workplace pressures as a sign of weakness or entitlement, others perceive it as a genuine struggle with issues like imposter syndrome.
According to the American Psychological Association, imposter syndrome is characterized by feelings of self-doubt and fear of being exposed as a fraud despite evidence to the contrary. It’s not uncommon among young professionals entering a competitive job market.
The conversation took another turn when discussing the role of social media in shaping Gen Z’s perceptions. “I think social media has a role in a lot of this, how it’s changed the culture of it,” Ray said. With platforms like YouTube and TikTok on the rise, the allure of becoming an influencer and the associated lifestyle has never been stronger. However, what many don’t see is the hard work that goes into it, as noted, “What they see is just access and the easy part of it.”
However, with every trend, there’s a counter-reaction. The ubiquity of influencers, each selling their unique course or brand, has led to a saturation in the market. Many youngsters idolize influencers, seeing them as the pinnacle of success, while unknowingly ignoring the business side of things. This blind admiration has, in some instances, translated into an inflated sense of self-worth and expertise in the workplace.
Yet, the rise of online learning cannot be ignored. With platforms like YouTube, individuals can gain extensive knowledge without formal education. “You could learn a lot without going to school just off of YouTube,” remarked Ray, emphasizing the merits of self-taught professionals.
Despite the challenges, the conversation highlighted the importance of mentorship in the workplace. The experts argued that it’s the duty of seasoned professionals to teach the younger generation. Investing time in nurturing juniors, although time-consuming and often challenging, ensures a company’s future. It’s a process that benefits everyone involved, creating a cohesive, skilled, and collaborative team environment.
The discussion closed with a poignant note on the dangers of the ‘me first’ mentality ushered in by remote working. Whereas face-to-face interactions fostered team or company-first attitudes, the detachment of remote interactions might be pushing individuals to become more self-centered.
Gen Z in the Modern Workplace: An Insight into Anxiety, Confidence, and Digital Natives
With the influx of Gen Z into the modern workforce, the digital world they grew up in has had profound effects on their behavior, skills, and perceptions. Through dialogue, a vibrant picture emerges of a generation both hailed for their digital proficiency and critiqued for their occasional lack of soft skills.
“This is the attitude of entitlement that’s happening,” Brandon started, hinting at the critique that Gen Z can sometimes exhibit entitlement. However, the conversation shifted to acknowledge a significant trend. Despite generalizations about Gen Z’s overconfidence, many in this generation grapple with heightened anxiety and imposter syndrome, leaving them feeling overwhelmed in professional settings.
“I see a lot of those cases where people are just overcome with anxiety,” Ray explained, sharing observations about younger colleagues and students who are often paralyzed by their fears of not measuring up. This imposter syndrome is so prevalent that sometimes even a promotion can induce anxiety. The fear isn’t just about not being good enough but also about navigating the uncharted waters of responsibility.
The advent of social media has played a significant role in shaping this generation’s experiences. Platforms like YouTube and TikTok have become stages for every individual to assume the role of a teacher or influencer. These platforms have democratized information and skill acquisition, allowing anyone to become an expert in their chosen field.
“Everyone’s a teacher online,” says Ray, drawing attention to how influencers on these platforms often sell courses to their followers as low-effort ways to generate passive income. Such dynamics have significantly influenced Gen Z’s perception of success and authority.
For many Gen Z individuals, online influencers represent the pinnacle of success. They see these internet celebrities traveling the world, enjoying luxurious lifestyles, all while merely filming themselves. Yet, what’s often hidden from public view is the hard work and business acumen required to maintain such lifestyles.
As Gen Zers enter the workplace, these digital experiences often collide with traditional business environments. Some come in with heightened confidence, feeling they have expertise to share based on their online presence or followers. In contrast, others grapple with imposter syndrome, feeling they could never measure up to the influential personas they’ve grown accustomed to online.
The remote working trend, further accelerated by the pandemic, presents another layer of complexity. While working remotely offers flexibility, it also poses challenges in mentoring younger employees. “There’s little patience to train a junior to kind of handhold and mentor someone on a Zoom call versus walking by a desk and like, ‘hey, let me show you something,‘” Brandon expressed.
Yet, despite these challenges, the responsibility to guide and mentor the next generation remains paramount. As Ray passionately conveyed, “It’s up to us to teach the youth.” It’s about adding value to the larger system, understanding the nuances of the modern workplace, and ensuring that knowledge and skills aren’t lost but passed on.
Ultimately, like every generation before them, Gen Zers come with their unique strengths and challenges. In understanding these, lies the key to fostering a collaborative and productive work environment. Industries, especially dynamic ones like game development, are at a crossroads. The evolving nature of work and the impact of digital transformation on workplace dynamics are creating an uncertain future. Will the torchbearers of old pass their flame to a willing new generation, or will the bridge between them crumble, taking with it the wealth of knowledge and experience the industry depends on?
As the game industry grapples with these issues, its future remains to be seen. But one thing is clear: dialogue, understanding, and mutual respect between generations are essential for its continued success.