What it’s like to get laid off in the games industry

(Image credit: Epic Games) It’s easy to see game layoffs as a tragic but disconnected event. 150 people lost their jobs, but that’s easy to reduce to simple numbers. What does it mean? For many developers, it can be anything from the confusing loss of a dream job, to the sudden absence of treasured friends…

What it’s like to get laid off in the games industry

(Image credit: Epic Games)

It’s easy to see game layoffs as a tragic but disconnected event. 150 people lost their jobs, but that’s easy to reduce to simple numbers. What does it mean? For many developers, it can be anything from the confusing loss of a dream job, to the sudden absence of treasured friends and colleagues. According to one person who requested anonymity—I’ll call him Jason—it meant a $25 Amazon gift card.“In 2013,” Jason begins, “I got a job at one of the three largest third-party game publishers as a PR employee. It was my first real job in the games industry—a dream job to me. I was immediately blinded by how ‘honoured’ I should be to work for said brand. So much so that I didn’t notice obvious problems from the outset. About five months in I was already burnt out. The hours and the pressure to perform got to me and my manager could not deal with the emotions involved with that level of stress. He put every small mistake I made under a microscope and every task was being micromanaged. There was no trust involved. If coverage of a game wasn’t positive it was my fault. Period.” In the spring of the next year, Jason was escorted into a room, and without warning told that the company “didn’t have time” for him. His contract would not be renewed. He was given a $25 Amazon gift card and pushed out of the building within a half-hour. This lack of warning isn’t atypical. Larz Smith has survived multiple layoffs as lead gameplay programmer at Daybreak, and can attest to the uncertainty that comes with a round of layoffs. “In many cases,” says Sm
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