Monday, November 19, 2012

digging deeper 7

In Nina Huntemann's article over gender and labor in video game industry, she talks about the idea that video game design and production, much like film, music, and television, is considered to be a relatively glamorous job. Rather than coming to work everyday in a suit and sitting behind a desk, game design offers an alternative to this type of job in a more relaxing atmosphere. However, through people like EA Spouse and Rockstar Wives, it has been brought to attention that this "cool factor" of working in a creative industry is not as glamorous as it seems. The wives of these employees have complained of unreasonable hours, unpaid labor, and a loss in the sense of being valued by the company. As a result, this cool factor of the job has replaced with resentment towards its grueling labor conditions which not only affect the employees, but the entire family. 
As these feelings of employees grow stronger, it can be easily seen how it affects the production of games. Because employees feel like they have been, "turned into machines as they are slowly robbed of their humanity," I think this can have a profound effect on the creativity and general sense of ownership towards the game that is produced. If a designer sees his job as autonomic and something like a typical desk job, I think it is evident that it will affect his creativity towards producing a game. And although the mass amount of hours that employees are having to work may increase production in the short run, I feel that as resentment towards the companies grow, production will eventually decrease. Rather than the designers feeling attached to a game, as they should, the disdain resulting from unfair labor conditions will cause these employees to lose some of this passion for what they do, leading to a separation between designers and the games they produce. 
These labor conditions have come about as a result of the new symbol economy and post-Fordism. As companies in this system frequently practice just-in-time production, it requires employees the work crunch time, as the article mentions. Crunch time puts a great deal of pressure on employees and their families as it is a time of intense work that forces employees to work long days for weeks at a time. Also, the post-Fordism era has led to a rise in casual work because it allows for a direct connection between costs and production. This has resulted in a lack of benefits for employees, including lack of "health insurance, retirement contributions, or wages for sick and vacation time" (Haven & Lotz, pg. 198). The new symbol economy and post-Fordist era have seemed to lower quality of labor conditions and a result, I think we will continue to see people like EA Spouse and Rockstar Wives who are unsatisfied with the current situation.

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