Press Reset

Grand Central. May 2021. 320p. ISBN 9781538735497. pap. $17.99. SOC SCI/BUS
Schreier (Blood, Sweat, and Pixels) exposes how the $150-billion-a-year video game industry is plagued by terrible work conditions, frequent layoffs, and burnout. The current industry model is unsustainable, the author explains. If a game sells poorly or a trend is no longer popular, then a studio might close and lay off their staff; the successful studio 2K Marin shut down after a failed XCOM shooter game. Even with a successful game, there’s no guarantee that a company will not be restructured; Irrational Studios was closed after the success of Bioshock and Bioshock: Infinite. In order to meet deadlines, employees are expected to work long hours and through the weekend. Schreier explains in this engaging, fast-paced book that this has led to the exodus of employees to more stable industries. Many developers of AAA games have left to create indie games, like Dodge Roll’s Enter the Gungeon. Schreier offers several possible solutions to the industry’s labor issues, such as unionization, outsourcing to specialized companies, and remote work.
VERDICT This standout book will appeal to readers of Kotaku, Polygon, and IGN, as well as viewers of NoClip’s YouTube documentaries. Beyond gamers, this well-researched account will also interest labor advocates.
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