Industry Layoffs: First Person Perspective

13 01 2009

Gamasutra have been doing some fairly interesting games journalism recently, which is very encouraging in the face of so many sites that copy and paste press releases and add a bit of fluff around them.

This article, interviewing people recently laid off from games companies, has a few interesting perspectives from job hunters as well as wider commentary on the wave of redundancies and studio closures currently hitting the games industry.

Of course, layoffs significantly hamper fresh graduates by freeing up some very experienced people:

“I’m still looking,” he says, “but it’s far harder than I expected. While there seem to be quite a few jobs out there, there are also quite a few people hunting, which means that employers are now able to find the perfect candidate who ticks all the boxes.”

“In the past, a candidate could fulfill 90% of the role and it would be understood that the remaining 10% could be worked on. However, that ‘100% candidate’ is potentially out there in the large job-seeking pool. So the difference between getting that job and missing out could be a very minor feature or attribute.”

One of the things we’ve been discussing at the office is that a lot of firms, games industry or not, are using the credit crunch as an excuse to trim their more optimistic hires away, or even shut a mismanaged firm down while there’s still some of it left. It also functions as a signal to shareholders in other businesses, affecting confidence and making further layoffs likely. As the article and later a commenter point out:

“These layoffs are not the result of the economic downturn that is affecting other industries,” Mencher maintains. “Our industry is having record sales. What we’re seeing is a combination of the not-so-unusual year-end layoffs that we see every year at this time when games have been shipped… plus a few companies that are having troubles, like EA, which has been struggling for some two and a half years.”

These layoffs often come as a result of simple human instinct, much the same way the stock market’s rise or fall is often dependent upon investors feeling confident or scared. If Company A hears constant reports of how bad the economy is, then they also know that their shareholders will be worried, and so they go ahead and secure the bottom line with layoffs…regardless of whether or not actual sales figures would support that course of action.

The comments in particular are at a very high standard for an online news source.

(CC image by Bowbrick)



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