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IGDA's MacLean: Missing  Warhammer  Credits 'Disrespectful'
IGDA's MacLean: Missing Warhammer Credits 'Disrespectful'
August 25, 2008 | By Leigh Alexander

August 25, 2008 | By Leigh Alexander
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More: Console/PC



The International Game Developers Association says it's "disrespectful" for Mythic Entertainment to credit only current staff members for Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning.

In a new memo to its constituency, the IGDA, a trade association representing game developers, also says Electronic Arts studio Mythic's decision "misleads both consumers and game industry peers," and cited a survey by its Writers Special Interest Group that found 35 percent of respondents "don't ever" or "only sometimes" receive official credit for their work.

"The lack of accurate, fair, and consistent credit standards in the industry poses a serious problem for every game developer," says IGDA chairperson Jennifer MacLean of 38 studios. "By refusing to acknowledge their contributions, studio management limits the professional recognition and opportunity for development that every contributor deserves."

MacLean says that companies often claim that providing complete credits exposes their staff to unsolicited recruiters or encourages them to leave a project early -- and called these reasons "arbitrary, unfair and in some cases even vindictive... they simply don't hold up."

The IGDA has been advocating for the adoption of universal credit standards in the industry, developing a Credit Standards Committee in late 2007 in response to news broken by Gamasutra that a number of Rockstar Vienna employees were missing from the credits of Manhunt 2.

The IGDA has created draft guidelines and a beta proposal for the standard. Urges MacLean, "Provide comments, share the proposal with colleagues and management, and join me in calling for the industry-wide adoption of crediting policies that recognize the efforts and accomplishments of all people who contributed to a game."


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Comments


Rayna Anderson
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It's great to hear the IGDA speak out about this. I thought the reasons that Mythic gave for leaving out the names were pretty ridiculous. During production, different people with different specialities are required at different times. The same people you use for storyboards, prototyping and concept aren't probably aren't going to be the ones putting the finishing touches on a game before it goes out the door.



What a shame that Mythic has focused on making their production cycle about the destination, not the journey. Development is a process, usually iterative, and the final product is the result of all of those steps (and mis-steps) along the way.

Anonymous
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EA does this all the time. If they don't like you when you leave you will not be included in the credits. If they like you, you probably will get a special thanks include though. Just depends really. I saw this first hand on Superman Returns. I'm sure they do it all the time.

Anonymous
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This is a great example of why unions are needed. The television, motion picture, and music industries are light years ahead of us with this kind of thing. Just try this in any of these other industries and see how well that flies.

Anonymous
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As reflected in the IGDA's comments, there appears to be a consensus that working on a project should be enough to earn a credit. Knowing which developers/publishers don't credit appropriately is enough to bring about the desired change over time... unless that process gets short-circuited out of "I want it now!" impatience.



Unionization is unnecessary at best and would do more harm than good at worst. The artificial inflation of labor and legal costs (as seen in other unionized industries) would be passed on to consumers, reducing revenues for everyone forced to become a union shop. The "cure" would be worse than the disease.



Provide the information about who does and who doesn't provide full credits, and let the free market work.

Anonymous
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You're arguing against unionization out of theory and not reality. Look at the aforementioned film, television and music industries. As a developer, if that's 'more harm than good," count me in.

Anonymous
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Is this situation really anything new, though? I've regularly seen people get left out of credits of games for various reasons. I think my person favorite was "your department has too many people in it, and we don't want to change the credits anymore." I am glad that the IGDA is looking for a solution, I just think it's long overdue.

Maurício Gomes
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I think that this is dangerous, if we end having unions because of problems like this, we will have problems.



I am myself against unions, specially when they backfire and hurt more than they help, but the IGDA is not a union, and it is helping, so I think that developers should join IGDA and support its causes.

E Zachary Knight
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I'm against unions just as much as the next guy. They are not necessary. Can you imagine having a game programmers strike or an animators strike?



On that note, I think that everyone who works on a game needs to receive credit. The excuse of only crediting the people who shoved out the door is a poor one. It is merely used to cover up the fact that they are too lazy to do some research into who worked on the game.



They could easily keep up to date records of who worked on the game and in what role. Then they could use that as the basis of the credits.

Anonymous
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I'd be interested in some examples of unions that have hurt their members more than they have helped. Entertainment industry only, please; we are skilled employees, not clerks or factory workers.

Anonymous
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This has happened to me on two games in which I left early as the Producer, on both titles I put in over six months of hard work with no credit. Thanks Jen!

Chris Cates
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THIS is why we need unions? THIS?



THIS is a non-story. Yes, it is stupid and petty on the part of the publisher. Yes, it is common in this industry. Yes, a followed set of standards by the IGDA would be nice, but really - THIS is a reason to need unions?



Get a grip people - credits are an ego thing, no more. They were fun to show your friends on your very first published game, but no more for most of us. There is no real "loss" from a missing credit.



A missing credit does not affect your employment. You list the game on your resume - that is all that is needed. As a hiring manager, I can call your professional references and confirm your employment there. I am NOT going to go grab a copy of the game manual and look up your name.



Again, I support good practices in crediting work (my current employer is VERY good in this regard). I find Mythic's excuses typically thin and weak. But please... There are debatable reasons to discuss unionization (long crunches with a lack of overtime pay is certainly one), but to skip past those and point to names in credits as being a reason seems more ego driven that any kind of real victimization.

Wesley Eldridge
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The day I need to pay a union fee or join an agency shop, is the day the 'cure' has become worse then the 'disease'. Anything more then simple Open Shop union activity is too far.



Extreme crunch and lack of overtime pay are terrible, and in the extreme circumstances union activity is surely justified however a standing union enforcing it's will has no place in this industry.



Using the film industry as some sort of bar to be met seems very strange to me as well. The Screen Actor's Guild for example is extremely shady and corrupt. Highly political and a great example of what unions should never be allowed to become. Over 2 grand just to join SAG, I don't want to see the day I have to cough up dues just to be part of this industry.



Yes I live and work in a right-to-work state, and feel that should be the standard all unions are held to. If the working environment is truly abusive, then unionize, oppose the problem, come to a solution, and allow the union to disband. There is no need for a union without a cause.



If fair crediting is really important to you, the next time you are looking to get a job, why don't you ask about getting it in your contract when you are hired? At least then you would have some grounds for legal action if they snub you later. At the very least, ask about what the studio's policies are on the subject. You may not be able to get a guarantee, but if enough people start asking about it, studios might start adopting better policies on crediting to attract potential employers.



Change CAN be made without the use of a union threat if your open minded and creative about it. The next time your lead/manager/boss has some free time, why not bring it up to them and see if you can get something started from the inside. I think most managers will have a hard time arguing that fair crediting is a reasonable request, then it is just a matter of finding a way to make that office policy Who can get get in your office who can advocate change like that?. If it's important to you, don't give up on it!



Well those are my 2 cents at least.

Anonymous
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Chris Cates, receiving recognition is not a mere "ego thing" - to be spit on.



Your attitude is exactly why a union is needed. Because you so apparently regard human contributors are merely moving parts in a machine. To put it nice an succinctly - fuck you.

Anonymous
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Hello Chris,



Missing credits does affect the employment. Someone not listed in credits has to explain why it is so. Quite nice negotiating position for the possible new employer, isn't it.



I'm leaving my actual workplace partly because people are not listed. People who are still working on the projects and don't have the intention to leave, will soon learn (most probably while checking boxed version) that they are not credited and the reason is the company fears that bad headhunters will come and steal these precious programmers.



It will tremendously help these people in their careers, work attitude, good old trust and few other unimportant details that create good team, that's for sure.



Oh, I'm listed. The reason is obvious, of course. I could do too much harm if I would be left outside. That's sad.

Anonymous
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Chris, THIS alone is not a reason to unionize, just another reason in an increasingly growing list, some of which you alluded to (long crunches with a lack of overtime pay, etc.)

Art and Design
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This does not just happen with Mythic. Odds are if you picked a top game being made, we are working on it, or have worked on it. The companies with developers being supportive of this action by IGDA should look inward. They too do the same thing. Our company might contribute 3 million dollars in work to a project and the artists and talent working would not see credit 95 times out of a hundred. We have contributed to nearly 200 projects to date, major contributions, and I bet we are listed on less than ten games. The developers, and publishers LOVE to take credit when it is not due. Is the nature of the biz...simple as that we dont take credit. I dont care because we take credit for our work by showing it on our website and conceptart.org anyway...and the right to self promotion is protected, but I gotta think that credit is due. I suppose it just comes down to putting up a fight when you sign your contracts...employment or contractor agreements. If you want credit, put up the fight. We do, but we tend to focus on the nine out of ten companies that try to get us to say we never worked on a project. Of course the latter is a deal breaker. We show the work we do upon project release or content release to market.



The following clauses in your employment contract (can be added as an addendum if you are wanting to be sure you are taken care of), are important.



1. Employee or Contractor shall hold the right to non-commercial self promotion including but not limited to the showcasing of work product created on it's website, blogs, or printed promotional materials, as long as such usage does not violate any NDA between parties.



2. Credits, listing Contractor/Employee name and title shall be included in the product manual, end game credits list, and any other placement of credits that are published, including those listed in the cheat code or hint books published by the developer, publisher, or outside parties. Employee will be credited, in good faith, on materials where the development/publishing team are listed and credited for their work product.


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