Press Reset: Ruin and Recovery in the Video Game Industry

This book opens the backstage of game development of many AAA game studios!

The author describes different game studios, developers and designer’s/tester’s experience and what those skilled workers do day after day, and what happens to them after their studio bankrupt or they just fired.

Interesting stuff about game studio Irrational and they famous game Bioshock , WOW!
They worked on the project Bioshock with 7 day a week straight without any weekends (this hard workmode was like many years) , wow this both insane and impressive!

It is somehow unexplained, why so many studio’s with good games still after some time getting closed, but this book gives lots of answers in regards of such bad events.
Game developers put a lot of work and many of them overwork, this book definitely change your prospective about game dev. Former company Irrational, creative director Ken Levine probably one of the best examples presented in the book for bad management, sure he is very creative professional, but his way to manage team basically described as terrible.

Bioshock Infinite probably would be never released if the Don Roy wouldn’t be hired as very experienced and veteran game producer, he basically saved this project from complete failure, because Mr. Levine way to often changed the narrative of the game and of course it was irrational.
In my opinion former company Irrational was really irrational. 😉

The “backstabbing move” of Mr. Levine against former employees of Irrational: this book describes how he close his studio and people which worked in that studio didn’t have a clue that such event would ever happen, of course former employees of Irrational would never admit it that the style of Mr. Levine project management was bad, because they got really good severance package, still it shows that such thing can happen even to the great studio like Irrational.

Author of this book describes the experience of indie game development and the challenges which are happens to exist in this area, well for me it was obvious most challenges for indie team is a marketing and fundraising, because it’s very important to make sure that enough public interested into the game which you develop and at the same time you have enough money to pay up all of your team members and make final product. In my opinion many indie developers should get courses or classes about managing projects and economy 1:1, which allow them to structure better theirs workflow and see how far they need to go to achieve the goal of finishing the game, because during game dev time your sometimes over or undervalue the time needed to create the game which you want to release. Many times you need to give a honest answer to your boss /tech lead/manager about how long it takes to finish job, and with knowledge of managing projects you would be able to give always a honest and correct answer. Then another story on The Bureau: XCOM Declassified, the game is great, but its sux to know that people who developed this game were overworked and experienced many problems with theirs management, look up 2K Marin , it’s no more.

Furthermore book author presents 38 Studio as example of very bad management in game industry and how it did influenced the employees of this company and what the effect of such bad experience left on the employees of 38 Studio.

I found interesting how employee of those past game studious were motivated and believed to what the management did told them about future of theirs company, well it looks like that in the business world the profitability of company is very crucial , but if a company owner or management doing bad business decision, well such companies don’t live long enough and its pity that very creative people suffer just because theirs management unable to predict or make sure they as company profitable for all of the times and keep their stuff at constant load and producing great games.

Another case with Mythic Entertainment and theirs EA managers, I found unmoral that developers didn’t riot against time savers in theirs mobile games, people should stand up for morals it’s no good to be skilled and have 0 morals , but if you don’t stand up for moral values you will feel even worse , so stand up and speak up.

“It chews them up and then spits them back out, leaving nothing but gristle and bones behind“


Work unions in game industry, well as being libertarian myself I say it depends on size of game studio, definitely for bigger studios it would make sense.
Still I think in my opinion many people who start as employee working in game industry, they have wrong assumptions about the work flow/ethic of game designer’s, developer’s or even tester’s.

It’s fascinating what I have learned in that book about game industry, now I have even more respect for game developers, designer and tester.

My final impression about this book: currently and in the past 10 years there was a struggle between creative design and money making ideas, in large organizations money wins always and the employees have almost 0 impact on final product, but they can always refuse to create some unmoral stuff, like casino addiction play style and pay to win practices, stuff which actually abuse the players, game developers should make an oath, that they never abuse their player!

Jason Schreier, explains some ideas how to fix the current situation in game industry and I agree with his opinion , that game studios must have up to 20 – 25 active team members for AAA games and outsource 50 or less % of their work to contractors and freelancers , sure managing such development wouldn’t be easy, because you would 100% depend on feedback and communication with contractors and probably you would not meet scheduled budget or any positive financial goals, but  the market decides whether your win or lose anyways, you can’t have 100% guarantee of success, in many cases time and people interest are responsible for the monetary success of your final product.
If you play safe you can’t hope to win immediately, for me its obvious stuff.

On another side, large corporations need to maintain their responsibilities to stockholders and respected owners, here a change in policies must be made like no overwork mandatory policy, I personally never would buy a game, where people overworked on it or where somehow abused by the company. I can leave with fewer games, but I would be happy about seeing very quality games, which would not crash at release and which would be fun and have great stories to tell and people who created them get full recognition and paid for all of theirs hard work.

What about indie?  I think indie game studios or persons can be the fresh breath in the industry, why?
Indie probably would be a future standard of industry, why?
Well Indies would create very impressive games, which would not have a “surprise mechanics” hint, hint to EA and definitely Indie games would be fun to play.
In time those Indie studios will grow and would produce even better games, from genres which previously were abandoned by the big corporations, people should believe in themselves and do the right job, indie don’t need to cut short on what they doing, but concentrate on quality, because most times quality suffers a lot especially if you have financial pressure during development times.

Summary: For me it’s obvious that working in game industry full time is not a stable and not steady job and many professionals in game industry should think of saving up money throughout theirs whole employment and always have a backup plans or even some of them should have a small running business, which would allow them to stay financially stable.
Then those employees should always be prepared to say NO for working in overtime and unmoral suggestion for abusive tech against theirs players, probably this a culture thing of USA, but in Germany many workers if they feel right , they say no or even refuse to work.
If the circumstances pushing somebody into overtime, well then they should get definitely contracted compensation.
This means the employee should not believe in what the management and respectful company owners saying.

Finally, whom I can recommend this book?
All college graduates should read this book, I don’t care if your graduated in non-science degree
All people who think to start working in game industry, 100 % read this book!
Managers or CEO of small game/Startup or indie studios? Yes you should read this book, you will understand what a game company undergoes throughout the game development process.
Gamers? Oh yeah, if you love games you should read this too, you will gain knowledge how hard game development is and gain more respect for people in the game industry who creating and non forgettable experience and fun which you get during your playtime in the game.

My big thanks goes to Jason Schreier for collecting and telling the world how really game industry works , for me it was an eye opener and pretty amazing experience!