121/365 – Meditation Games #121 – Literally Losing Life and Limbs

Developer Credits: Ben Caulkins, Janice Ho, Sam Suite, DANG!

Launcher Quote:¬†“P A S S I O N

www.gameworkersunite.org”

This meditation games entry, to me, speaks for itself, and that’s probably not a surprising thing considering my close proximity to the games industry through all the work I’ve done it in for the past decade plus or so. While there’s a bit of comedic absurdity in presenting what at first seems to be a slapstick way of displaying a rough work environment and the literal consequence of working until your hands fall off, there’s also a bit of dark undercut as far as the mood and the presentation is concerned, and it surrounds two systemic issues in games that many studios struggle with today – that of a volatile, stressful work environment and the dangers of enforcing practices such as crunch in order to get games developed and out the window.

The frayed intent of the character you control, with the looming threat of the red button to lay you off and basically end the game, combine to create a frenetic presentation where you are struggling to not only do the work quickly but also do it in a correct manner, all while occasionally repairing limbs that fall off and get to the end of the coding rainbow. The thing with this, however, is that sans the literalism of the presentation this is an accurate representation of what games studios have to deal with in order to justify being able to release and develop games for an increasingly ravenous and often quick-to-judge public.

I think that nobody yet has the solution to the issue of some of these practices that we see in some games studios today, though organizations such as Game Workers Unite as well as efforts by others to speak out and try to combat these practices are a start. Their attempts to protect games industry employees are at least progress towards stopping developers from losing limbs and jobs over games that often¬† tends to chew them up, spit them out, and then burn them to a crisp to boot. It’s easy to write all day about the trials and tribulations of an overworked industry such as games development, but in a certain sense, this is part of why these games exist – to highlight in a way that doesn’t really need words what a problem truly looks like.

 

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