Game Producer Quest, Part 19

Ah, the perils of blogging; I sometimes wonder what it is that keeps some people coming back so eagerly, while with others it sometimes feels like a chore and one neglects doing so.  I suppose differences in personality are the core reasoning behind it all.  For me, I feel like having an online presence (even though it’s honestly miniscule) is important, but it’s not so important to me that I occasionally forget to do so.  This in turn, contributes to a phenomenon in my blogging habits; I tend to comment on older stories in the games industry.  Personally, I’m fine with this.  I’m no games journalist, so time is not of the essence.  It’s also interesting to sit on the sidelines and see how things will play out before passing judgment.  It also allows me to avoid jumping to conclusions prematurely.

So two stories I wanted to comment on; first, the sad closure of LucasArts.  It always saddens me to hear about studio closure, and I always feel sorry for those who have lost their jobs.  Considering that I myself am still looking for a full-time production job (currently have a part-time one) in the game industry, it makes me think that despite being a multi-billion dollar industry, there is a questionable amount of job security present.  This in turn makes me wonder how money is being spent; I would think a multi-billion dollar industry would be more stable but maybe I’m missing something that smarter people than I can see more clearly.  Regardless, while I am doubtful anyone from the publisher formerly known as LucasArts is reading this, if anyone happens to stumble (probably somewhat intoxicated) here, I wish you luck on finding a new job.

Another person I wish luck (admittedly with a degree of reluctance) on finding a new job is former Microsoft creative director Adam Orth, who for reasons unknown, took to twitter to preach about online always.  This had quite a couple of negative consequences.  Microsoft at this point has revealed nothing about their next-gen console currently codenamed Durango.  One of the rumors floating around is that it will require an internet connection to play games, which sounds incredibly consumer-unfriendly to me.  But I digress; Orth may have inadvertently confirmed this rumor to be true, which was not the smartest play he could have made on twitter.  The resulting backlash also resulted in negative publicity for Microsoft, primarily because he was amazingly untactful on twitter, basically telling everyone to ‘deal with it’ with regards to online only.  Furthermore, he ended up insulting entire communities by tweeting that he wouldn’t live in a place with poor internet availability, which basically means small town America.  In his own way, he ended up insulting not only consumers, but potentially consumers of Microsoft’s products.

This thread on Neogaf summarizes much of what happened, though one has to separate the wheat from the chaff (internet humor knows no bounds) to get an idea of what happened.  All one needs to do is look at the first post, as there is no need to read through it all.  As it stands, Orth no longer works for Microsoft, though it is unknown as to whether was forced to resign or was fired.  There are various aspects of this story that intrigue me.  First is the witch hunt aspect; that people are acting as bullies against Orth.  I personally disagree with this entirely, because no one forced him to tweet anything.  Bullies by and large bully others for no good reason; not for retaliation, vengeance, or justice.  Bullies bully you simply because you exist.  They don’t even have to have a reason to do so.  In this case however, Orth of his own volition decided to step on his virtual soapbox (like may are prone to do nowadays) on tweet his thoughts on the matter in a very untactful way.  There are consequences to actions; there should be consequences to actions in my opinion, and Orth’s actions were both misguided and not very internet savvy, in my opinion.  I often think about the need to be street smart when living in a highly populated city; being internet savvy is no different, and sometimes exercising restraint, patience, and humility by choosing not to tweet or post is the smart play to make.

I also don’t buy that he was just ‘sharing his opinion.’  There is such thing as social etiquette.  If an obese person was walking down the street, you don’t just point and comment on that person’s obesity.  You would be telling the truth in that regard, and just ‘sharing your opinion,’ but that alone does not make it the right thing to do.  Again, sometimes saying nothing at all is the best choice.

People have a right to be angry at Orth for his insensitive comments.  Having been raised in a small town in Connecticut, I can confirm that the internet is definitely not 100% stable.  It drops with some degree of frequency.  I would hate to play games and suddenly be no longer able to play because my console’s connection to Xbox Live was momentarily lost.  But I digress; by the end of the day, he spilled some milk, he should be made to clean up the mess he made.

With that said, did he deserve to lose his job?  Was that too harsh for his comments, however insensitive they were?  Perhaps, though it’s hard to say.  If I were the owner of a company that was going to release product X to the world, and employee Y made comments on social media that not only generated negative publicity for my company, but cost potential sales of product X, I would have a hard time thinking of why employee Y should continue working at my company.  It is also troubling in that employee Y is at least at a mid-level position in the company (Creative Director sounds mid-to-high level to me).  In the end, Orth made some poor decisions that may have cost him his job and damaged his career in the process.  I can only hope that he learned from the mistakes he made, as opposed to playing the victim here (remember, his actions should have consequences), and if he owns up to, admits his mistakes, and aspires to be better than what he previously was, he deserves kudos, in which case I sincerely wish him luck in his job hunt.

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