Then, too, there is precedent for Western pop culture adopting other nations' entertainment icons whole-cloth. A Google search for "anime" brings 169 million hits.

Try to Enjoy It
Once cost-cutting publishers can outsource design as well as everything else, will the entire business of game production follow so many other American industries overseas?

"The trend in game development seems to be away from a model that separates design from execution," says producer Warren Spector. "We're moving toward a low-document, you-conceive-it-you-build-it model. I can see a time when U.S. development becomes so expensive it's tough to justify hiring a U.S. company to [design] a game. System specs generated in a vacuum are worthless. If the talent's over there, the game should be made over there. Splitting off the design part of it, the way you'd split off modeling a chair, doesn't make sense."

But Spector believes game production will never be entirely offshored. "There are thousands and thousands of people in the U.S. who love making games and want to continue. Most of the big publishers are based in the U.S., have offices here or want to have offices here. And, with some notable exceptions, the top creative talent is here. I honestly think salaries overseas will go up, and that's how the playing field will be leveled. The offshore guys will have to pay more as their employees realize they can't afford the stuff they're making!"

Remember that IGDA Forum debate? Consultant Maximillian Meltzer wrote there, "[Offshoring] won't go away, so prepare for the future. It's not all about outsourcing, it never was, but the maturing of a technology-driven industry. As a US developer you just have more competition. Sounds like an industry about the survival of the fittest. Sounds like business as usual to me."

The new globalization of game production offers opportunities for a savvy developer. There are few barriers to entry, so anyone with net connectivity - you yourself - could outsource your own workload for a fraction of your current salary. Call it "pointsourcing." Do what Ubisoft's own Worldwide Managing Director Gilles Langourieux did: Formerly a manager at Ubisoft Shanghai, he left in 2004 to start his own offshoring operation, Virtuos. Virtuos now employs 120 people and recently closed Series A financing with Legend Capital.

Why not you, too?

Allen Varney designed the PARANOIA paper-and-dice roleplaying game (2004 edition) and has contributed to computer games from Sony Online, Origin, Interplay and Looking Glass.

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