Erin Hoffman's Inside Job

Erin Hoffman's Inside Job
Inside Job: Why We're Here

Erin Hoffman | 25 Jul 2008 21:00
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Coming into this closing installment of "Inside Job," I find myself reflecting on the changes that we've seen inside the industry just within this past year in terms of quality of life; interest waxes and wanes, sometimes with the season and sometimes in response to a natural cycle of awareness and entropy. While this column is ending, the process toward better working conditions (and therefore better games) remains ongoing; there are no ends.

But we'll leave this first-day-of-the-rest-of-your-quality-of-life on a high note, with a side of contemplation. Taking the whole of the development experience, I asked game developers why they're still here - what it is that makes this business worth fighting for.

Creativity
Unsurprisingly, one of the most common answers had to do with creativity. It's a dangerous thing, having a creative job. Most of the problems associated with game development can probably be traced back to politics (including the grand sphere of management) or the unpredictability of the creative process. But that strange, kinetic energy is also what makes it so addictive and rewarding.

I started making games when I was about 8 years old. My friends and I would sit around the computer and come up with the kinds of ideas that "mainstream" games didn't include - the kinds of things that only a gaggle of 8-year-old boys would think of, like Snail Squishing Marathon and such. We would agree on the game, they'd leave (or go play Lego) and I'd program in the latest crazy ideas. There was no producer/developer relationship back then, mind, it was all very democratic, and since I was the programmer, whatever I said went in. Anyway, I found that my friends' reactions to my creations were totally rewarding and I loved the creative process of figuring out what would really be cool to include in Snot Racing 2 or Booger Rally.

To me, it's about entertaining people. Whether it's Pong or a 3-D racing game, I try to include little "treats" for the die-hards, such as weaknesses in the system that only the truly committed would figure out or concentrating on the core elements that people enjoy in that particular genre. I think games are the best way of applying as many of my passions to entertaining people as I could find - including music, art, programming, storytelling and drama. And when I get too old to do this or I no longer have a creative say or I think I've had enough of all the BS that goes with this industry ... I guess it's back to the theater for me.

- Jeff Murray, Director of Game Development, Fuel Industries

Tech Edge
If you could boil down the game-making process to two elements, it would probably be creativity plus technology - an expressive medium taken right up to the bleeding edge of what we can accomplish with media hardware today. And that tech edge, for many, enhances both the challenge and the payoff to making games.

Games are still where a lot of the excitement is both from a content and tech perspective. Despite the uphill battles to do truly original content, it's clear that the opportunities to radically move people's perceptions of what games and entertainment can be are probably better in the games industry than in other more linear forms.

I've worked outside of games (briefly) after being in the industry for some time. No thanks. Every industry has problems - pick the ones you can live with and be happy.
- Mark Harwood, Producer, Shiny Entertainment

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