There’s something here that often confuses outsiders. Why is it that fans, those most-passionate consumers of a product and who identify with the product on some deeply personal level, are often the ones who are most hateful and spiteful towards those individuals who create the thing they love? Often this gets explained away as an overly zealous and protective passion, but the answer is both more insidious and more straightforward: fans are not loyal to workers; fans are loyal to brands. This is especially true of gamers, that young and predominantly male demographic explicitly and deliberately cultivated by videogame publishers throughout the 90s to identify strongly enough with a range of brands, to constantly invest money in new titles and hardware. The gamer’s allegiance is to ArenaNet, not the workers at ArenaNet who do the creative labour. Gamers are allies to corporations.
At the same time, the managerial class of the games industry has long seen the creative workers that actually produce games as disposable and easily replaceable. ‘A passion for games’ is held up as a primary requirement for working in the videogame industry, and those who have been brought up through the gamer identity are offered low wages and demanded to do unpaid overtime in return for so generously being given the opportunity to work in the industry. Despite videogames existing for over half a century at this point, they are still often called a ‘young’ medium. In large part, this is because the poor and precarious working conditions of many large studios mean many developers leave the games industry for other sectors once they enter their thirties. While alternative development models in recent years have disrupted this greatly, the blockbuster videogame industry persists as a cycle of passionate and predominantly male adolescents being cultivated into twenty-somethings who are crunched and burnt in order to make products for the next generation of passionate and predominantly male adolescents.
Brendan Keogh knows it’s about ethics in videogame management.
This is a long quote from a long piece, which is worth reading in its entirety.