Xbox Co-Creator Warns of Developer "Generation Gap"

Xbox Co-Creator Warns of Developer "Generation Gap"

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Xbox co-creator Seamus Blackley has warned about a "generation gap" in game developers and says the industry needs to find new ways to discover and nurture its future talent.

"There's a whole generation of games designer that is is absent. It's like the World War One 19-year-olds, they've vanished. The Will Wrights, the Warren Spectors, the Sid [Meiers], the Tim Schafers - we can give those guys what they want, and do large deals for them. But there is no generation after them," Blackley said at the 2009 GamesBeat conference. He described the current method of discovering talent as like "taking three great graduates and putting them to work on the next Godfather game," which he said squanders their potential.

"That [approach is] a fine business decision, but the perspective for us is that it is a much better idea to take these three guys who perhaps have a beautiful idea and a different way of working, protect them a little bit as they build up a new idea and a new way of looking at things and a new way of design - and a few years from now they will be a much better business," he added. "In the '90s there was no mechanism to do that - and we lost a generation of designers. I think its important we look to reclaim that new generation."

Blackley was heavily involved in the design and marketing of the original Xbox, after which he left Microsoft and co-founded the Capital Entertainment Group with the intent of changing the game industry financing model in order to give more creative control to individual developers. CEG went under in 2004 and Blackley now represents game developers at the Creative Artists Agency, a high-end talent agency with clients including famous actors, athletes and industry figures like Ken Levine and Will Wright.

He said that in order to continue growing the industry had to ensure that it didn't "oppress" new talent by becoming locked in to bad habits. "Great projects happen when a lot of people put a lot of effort into making them happen," he said. "Previously these happened organically but as the model matures and the industry around that matures people become set in their ways."

Source: Develop

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Noticed long time ago, that to be hired in the gaming industry is a miracle..

raxiv:
Noticed long time ago, that to be hired in the gaming industry is a miracle..

As a person studying to be a games design major, that sentence worries me.

I share the man's concerns though. People need a little breathing room for creativity, something that the current games market does not allow.

Companies squandering talent? This hardly seems newsworhty.

Reserving this space because I have to say a lot on this topic.

I will say for now that getting hired in the video game industry is still incredibly difficult.

EDIT: Okay finally awake after a long day from work to comment.

Okay first off getting into the video game industry as a creator and not a code monkey is incredibly difficult and a lot of one's great ideas are ignored by the evolved bureaucracy that companies have so they don't get to create their own project to be noticed. This is what is currently happening within these giant video game industries, there is no one ascending to be recognized as the next Miyamoto or Wright. You will find them behind the game working on generic titles and not creating the next generation of video game heroes and villians.

Think about how old these current recognized developers and producers of the video game industry. From Miyamoto to Cliffy B. are not young aspiring developers anymore, they are the founders and figureheads of the companies that let them take their idea and create. They are adults, parents, and will have to stop making games sometime in the future and when that happens who will be that new figurehead for the next generation of aspiring developers? Currently the only name that really stands out and he is OUTSIDE the video game company giants is people like Johnathon Blow and other XNA developers. While they are making games they are not being handed down the proverbial sword that will make them the new leaders to speak for that new generation. This young generation of developers(people age 18-30) are not getting their name out there and creating something like a mascot or series that will get them and NOT the publisher recognized. This relates to the video game industry becoming like the comic book industry eating itself alive because instead of creating new stories and adventures the same old games are being re-made just with better graphics or heroes and villians are being made so generic they do not stand out(with all due respect to Master chief as a key example).

This is where the business model of video game companies need to come into question. Yes, all companies need to produce profit for themselves and shareholders that is A goal of the video game industry. However, to keep producing high quality or innovative video games there has to be the willingness to take chances in the people who will be creating these games. Right now video games can cost millions to make funding giant teams of programmers, artists and human resources that makes the hollywood industry spin around and collapse into a big pile of cocain that would probably cost just as much. There is no real overhead to allow video games to actually produce a profit, instead they are being made to break even leaving the dreaded downloadable content to produce a profit for these companies and this is a trend that is taking over. There needs to be an emulation that would allow these giant companies to look back and see how video games in the past had profitable business models and renovate them to work in the present. Allow developers to try new ideas without the risk but with the funding and team to produce that next generation of video game heroes.

With the video game industry being so large even getting an internship requires experience or that one connection to really see what goes on in the inside. I've been trying for years not as a programmer but even down to a beta tester and even after all my education, work experience I still couldn't get in. While human resources pushes people out it is even harder for that generation to get their foot in the door because to human resources or managers are not "what they are looking for" or "one of the guys" despite having a bright mind and good ideas. I do fear for the video game industry because it is a bubble market right now and it is causing more damage to itself than it realizes every year due to improper business practices. You do not create a game just to end up in debt and you do not subsidize the next generation of programmers by taking the money they need to fund their next project such as the Iphone and XNA.

Again its probably the case that not many people are willing to hire in... I'm training to be a game designer but as part of my course their also including an entire segment for business and economics because when I'm done here, it might just be easier to start my own business...

talent going unnoticed? thats old news

Pi_Fighter:
Companies squandering talent? This hardly seems newsworhty.

/agree

Isn't this like common knowledge?

How are they missing a generation? Don't they have a whole community making games with XNA?

scotth266:

raxiv:
Noticed long time ago, that to be hired in the gaming industry is a miracle..

As a person studying to be a games design major, that sentence worries me.

Any hope for myself doing so has long since been extinguished from economic stresses and school. I came to the conclusion the only way I could set myself apart is to have a game done by the time I graduated, or chalk it out as an indie dev. The latter seems less and less plausible as it seems any PC game get pirated to hell and back.

DeadlyYellow:

scotth266:

raxiv:
Noticed long time ago, that to be hired in the gaming industry is a miracle..

As a person studying to be a games design major, that sentence worries me.

Any hope for myself doing so has long since been extinguished from economic stresses and school. I came to the conclusion the only way I could set myself apart is to have a game done by the time I graduated, or chalk it out as an indie dev. The latter seems less and less plausible as it seems any PC game get pirated to hell and back.

Which is why you develop for these new venues popping out (digital distribution on consoles pretty much ensures you won't be robbed of your product, on PC you will get robbed of course). I'm not 100% sure how it actually works on the side of the $$$ tho.

I remember someone like Yu Suzuki lamenting this earlier, though his perspective on it was strictly that it's happening in Japan.

raxiv:
Noticed long time ago, that to be hired in the gaming industry is a miracle..

It's not that getting hired is the problem, well, compared to any other industry that is. The games industry is always hurting for good programmers and artists. It's that getting to a position where your decisions actually matter in the design of the game is the hard part.

It also seems to me that a lot of the possible upcoming big names come from outside the so called industry. Guys like Derek Yu and Jonathan Mak could be the next generation of great game developers. They do games, sure, but they don't really seem to be working for any big company or doing games for anyone but themselves. Just a thought to hold onto.

mark0217:
Which is why you develop for these new venues popping out (digital distribution on consoles pretty much ensures you won't be robbed of your product, on PC you will get robbed of course). I'm not 100% sure how it actually works on the side of the $$$ tho.

XNA runs roughly $100 (Seems like a stand-in for proper XDK, price is also for a premium membership.) An Xbox runs between $200 and $400 at the local electronics retailer, since I do not currently own one. (Hypothetically, one could always emulate it, but the target console is a must for proper testing.)

PS3 seems worse. Not sure if they have an open development tool like XNA, but the proper SDK seems to run about $8600.

Now let's take a look at Windows. DirectX SDK is... free(with genuine windows.) Assuming you want a pre-made engine, that will cost $20ish since Valve and Epic release an SDK with their games, more if you want to license them for commercial distribution.

Honestly, squandering talent seems to be the big thing this year. Schools do it to creativity by drowning students in homework and no field trips (something I greatly disapprove of), and gaming companies suppress talent with endless remakes and ripoffs.

DeadlyYellow:

mark0217:
Which is why you develop for these new venues popping out (digital distribution on consoles pretty much ensures you won't be robbed of your product, on PC you will get robbed of course). I'm not 100% sure how it actually works on the side of the $$$ tho.

XNA runs roughly $100 (Seems like a stand-in for proper XDK, price is also for a premium membership.) An Xbox runs between $200 and $400 at the local electronics retailer, since I do not currently own one. (Hypothetically, one could always emulate it, but the target console is a must for proper testing.)

PS3 seems worse. Not sure if they have an open development tool like XNA, but the proper SDK seems to run about $8600.

Now let's take a look at Windows. DirectX SDK is... free(with genuine windows.) Assuming you want a pre-made engine, that will cost $20ish since Valve and Epic release an SDK with their games, more if you want to license them for commercial distribution.

Look on your face when you see your game all over TPB: $priceless :p
You have to weight in the pros and cons of every business venue, and if I were a programmer, I'd probably try to stick to consoles making a small investment that will pay off in the long run anyways.
Of course, I would still have to stand out from every other indie of corporate dev =_=

 

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