Credit where Credit’s Due

Let’s talk about giving credit to people who worked on games.

I’ve spent some years in the trenches as a software engineer/senior developer/line manager/whatever on various telecomms related projects. This includes products that are currently being used by many many more people than will be buying Warhammer Online. Do you think that any of the developers got credit?

Do you know who coded up any of the operating system you are using?

Do you know who coded any of the browser software you are using to read this post?

Do you know who designed or coded your microphone and headphones if you use voice chat? (yes, mikes have embedded code)

Do you know who designed your car and it’s electronic systems?

Do you know who designed your fridge?

Unless you are related to any of those people, I’m guessing that the answer is no. So excuse me for being up in arms on this one but what precisely makes game coders so special? Coding is quite a creative activity, regardless of whether you are figuring out MMO databases or designing filing systems for operating systems for smartphones. It’s not creative in the same way as painting or writing novels, but there is a creative element to ALL design work.

Anyhow, my point is that coders in other fields don’t generally get credit or expect it. We get paycheques.

Clearly different industries have their own cultures and if you are working in a film (or yes, game) industry then getting into credits may be more of an issue. So lets look at films for an example: this is the wikipedia article on screenwriting credits. Its an interesting article because it discusses both what you need to do to get credit, and why credit is important to writers.

You need to write a third of the script to get a screenwriting credit. That, needless to say, is a large amount. You can’t translate that directly into coding because coders work in larger teams. But it gives an idea of how significant a contribution is considered standard for creditworthiness.

As for the importance, the reasons they give are for references/reputation and for membership of the union. Neither of these really apply to coders. Frankly, although people say that they need those credits to be able to get future jobs, I find it hard to believe when people like the Production Director of Blizzard say that it’s standard for them not to credit people who leave mid-project. I know that certainly when I’m interviewing engineers, I can tell within 30 mins if they have the chops for the job I want them to do. Then we check references. Credits are cute but I’d expect someone to list all the relevant jobs they’d held in the past in their CV/resume anyway. Even Lum notes that in MMOs credits aren’t a big deal.

Anyway, I find this to be a non-story. I think Mythic generally is pretty good about giving some face time to their developers, you can see a lot of bios on the websites if you are interested in knowing more about the people who are working on the game. And it’s fair enough to decide on a scheme for credits (such as: no credit for people who aren’t in at the end) and then stick to it. In coding, there is also a good chance that someone had to rework parts of your code after you left anyway to make it work withย  some other new module.

The IGDA is mostly after some publicity. Like any union-type organisation, they survive on subs and need to convince their natural user base that joining the union will give them access to an organisation that will fight for their rights. (It’s difficult to really know what to say about an organisation that has as one of its goals ‘getting videogames recognised as an art form’.)

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8 Responses

  1. Really good points – and I hadn’t thought of them before but putting it into that context, well, darn it, I wish someone would thank me for doing my job ๐Ÿ˜‰

  2. Ha this reminds me of a day course I went on with my work. “Communications” they called it but to be honest it was about how “we” as a department can better interact with one another and our customers.

    Surprisingly enough the main result of all this was people who work together tend to take each other forgranted and tend not to thank people or offer praise for a good job. Quite sad but ultimately typical of familiarity. The more we know someone the more we expect of them and the easier it becomes to ignore their achievements especially if they regularly do a good job.

    Something to think about even when your playing WAR. Just because you have a good healer/tank/dps’er in your group doesn’t mean you should take that as the norm. Everyone likes to be told they did a great job once in a while. Come to think of it the more often the better!

    So the lesson to take away from this is……. Bright Wizards need love ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. […] the guy some credit Spinks’ post on Book of Grudges is well worth the read. He raises a good point about crediting […]

  4. Very nice article, Spinks!

  5. “Do you know who coded any of the browser software you are using to read this post?”

    Yes. There’s a “credits” button on Help->About.

  6. Yeah, that is a pretty comprehensive list in firefox. Though I am sure if you dug deep enough in most companies you would find a list of credits or employees at the very least. Do we know if the garbageman for Firefox got credit? I think this shoots back at the point of this article, at least my interpretation of it. Let us always remember we are always dependent on other people. Though some may deem themselves ‘antisocial’ and never go out of their house; 100’s if not 1000’s of people are responsible for everything you use or eat. I suppose that is why they call it a society. How does this tie into War? I think it’s great to ground yourself in any activity. Just remember that the game your are playing was created for you amusement by many hard people, and that maybe that one Black Orc is the guy that made you your bagel this morning, or that Archmage is the guy that designed the volume button on your speakers.

  7. Haha, Firefox is too cool. I couldn’t find any credits on IE ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Spinks, you’re the only other person who has even come close to my feelings about this topic…good to know I’m not completely alone.

    @Paul even Mozilla calls that ‘…a brief list of credits’. Just saying…

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