Make no mistake, I'll be the last one to excuse the industry for its sins, but I'm also not going to stand for all-out mutiny founded on flimsy reasoning. If the industry is hurting, it's up to us to heal it, not shrug and start writing bank software for better pay. Sure, I'd love to be making the big bucks, and it's a choice I could have made. Some years back, I was offered the chance to apprentice under a stockbroker at a major investment firm. I turned it down, and as my uncle said, you can make money or you can be happy. And if you're in it for the money, what the hell are you doing attempting something creative, anyway?

Show me the Money
But we are a commercial enterprise. A big part of what's purchased the industry its expanded audience and great uplift of mass market - leaving those delicious innovation niches beneath to be filled by independent companies and hobbyists - is the industry's transition to a state that attracts the attention of the bulls and bears.

But all is not well on those gray pages. In recent months, economists have flooded the collective Wall Street mind with gloom and doom for the game industry.

I assert that we shouldn't care.

The astute might notice that I am not what you would call partial to the welfare of the game industry's respective Wal-Marts and Targets. However, I am fond of that undergrowth region they shade. Part of the curse and blessing of those big companies is that it is highly unlikely that they could actually topple anytime soon. Some suits might lose money, but those monoliths aren't going anywhere. Trust me: They're big enough to take care of themselves. That stability leaves investors with secondary concerns: the console gap, the rise of downloadable and online games (those alternative vectors), and a slowdown in industry growth.

Let's replay that in slow motion: Investors are running scared because of opportunity. They're getting nervy because the big engine of repetitive content is slowing down, because even the big guys are starting to realize that gaming audiences want something new. They want better practices and better games. This might be a bad thing for Wall Street, but it sure as hell isn't for developers or gamers. And that brings us to ...

New Horizons
Fear not, I'm not going to go all Buddhist on you, but everything exists in a dualistic balance. Just when you think that it can't get any darker, the sun starts to rise.

And it's rising. We're slowly but surely starting to discover - you might want to sit down for this one - management science. We're starting to get a glimmer that we might want to put the same energy into learning people management that we put into developing cel shaders. This concept isn't new. But we're starting to listen at last. Personal Software Process, Team Software Process, Agile Development, advanced tools and automation; the new choir of angels to sing us on our way. Game development as a whole is now bringing in techniques from other industries, bending and realizing that we might be special, but we're not that special.

We also already have a lot to be thankful for. A good game industry job is one of the most flexible, rewarding, creative, efficient and energizing working opportunities on the planet. A lot of us work for the big guys, but just as many work for sleek and agile little companies that, when well-piloted, have the flexibility to switch on a dime, employ a new dev process, try a new idea, actually listen to employees (in fact, we kind of bridle at being called "employees" - we're "talent," thank you very much). Our maverick environment, one that rewards new ideas and gives quantitative and qualitative feedback for individual hard work, attracts some of the most brilliant, coppery-idealistic, good-hearted, strong-willed people in the world. I can look around my office and see radical tattoos, Voltron action figures, Duct Tape and Starbucks coffee cups - try finding that at IBM.

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