In fact, most of our quality of life problems actually come from the fact that working is generally so much damned fun. This, too, is a double-edged sword.

We can't leave the issue of life in the game industry without a treatment on quality of life. And it is critical that our energy continue to focus there, not for any flimsy rationale involving, you know, physical longevity and mental stability for developers - nothing so minor - but because games need to keep getting better. Our lifeblood is creativity, and creativity can't exist in a vacuum.

This means that we need to restrain our creative id and actually go outside once in awhile. We need to think, learn, absorb, grow. If you can't do it for your arteries, do it for the games.

In order to maintain innovation, we also need to stop treating our veterans so poorly. Remember that bit about hundreds of pages of crap? It's critical. The guys and gals who have gotten that out of their system are inexpressibly more efficient at solving problems and substantially more prone to come up with game designs that haven't been tried before. (OK, maybe it can be expressed: The IGDA Quality of Life White Paper estimates that a team with two years' average experience and 10 percent turnover costs the publisher 50 percent more and is 75 percent less likely to deliver on time than a team with 10 years' average experience and 2 percent turnover.) Ageism is a plague in this industry, and we need to stop driving out the bearers of hard-won wisdom. This, too, is a problem not limited to the game industry, but it is one we should be smart enough to solve.

Bright Futures
I understand the cynicism; believe me, I do. The world is becoming an increasingly frightening place. But I would argue that it is time for despair to end and for action to begin. We all need a boot to the head every once in awhile, a jolt to wake us up and remind us that the pendulum is ready to swing the other way. And baby, it is swinging.

So, buck up, my dears. Fix the problems, but remember why you're here. I'll see you next year at GDC; I'll be the one with the red palm jewel.

Erin Hoffman is a professional game designer, freelance writer, and hobbyist troublemaker. She moderates and fights crime on the streets by night.

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