Tales from The Trenches Archive

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Downtown Orwellsville

I worked in a small game studio for about 5 years on the Art team. The first year there was hell because of a shitty AD.  Then the rest of the artists (all 3 of us) convinced the CEO that he was useless and we got rid of him.

The next few years were great, working on small games, each one progressively getting to be more and more game like.  I was promoted to lead and to creative director eventually.  Everything was going well it seemed.

Then a switch went off in the heads of management.  They seemed overly preoccupied with ass in seat mentality and didn’t care about quality, or quantity of work getting done, so long as you were in your seat for X hours a day.

They increased the mandatory be at work time, they installed cameras in the office pointed at the staff so that the CEO and Office manager (or whatever his title was at the time) could have a screen set up in their offices so that they could “watch” us work… You know for the 3-4 hours a day they were actually there.  They started monitoring our IM’s searching for keywords, and rumor has it that they fired some employees for talking shit about their jobs over IM.

When all of this went down, being a person in between management and the art staff, a lot of the artists came to me to voice their concerns and to ask me to be a reference for their resumes.

Stupid me, I decided to tell management about the low moral, and asked what they were going to do when half their staff left because of these changes in policy.  Management decided to confront some of the staff about it, and they all said “no no, I am happy here”.. of course that is what you would say, even if you were actively looking to move on, you wouldn’t want to tell them that.  So they confronted me about it calling me a liar and strike 1.  Strike 2 was when I mentioned that a certain staff member was leaving, apparently they don’t like to tell people that staff has left or is leaving.  Not sure how strike 3 came about, but I had been working 12 hour days for months and doing the bulk of the art work on 1 project, redoing the GUI on another project, and reviewing and fixing artwork on 2 other projects when I was “laid off.”

They said I didn’t have the necessary skills for the company going forward even though leading up to my dismissal, I had to train multiple artists on how to do my job.  Nice!  A few weeks later they laid off another bunch of highly qualified staff, looks like they were cutting people based on salary in the end.

I am in a much better situation now, working 8 hour days, and have time for my family.