We Talk 'Titanfall 2,' 'Battlegrounds,' 'Prey,' and Lego on Waypoint Radio


Sometimes, Skype calls YOU.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/a3exxg/we-talk-titanfall-2-battlegrounds-prey-and-lego-on-waypoint-radio


On the discussion of fears that game-developers might not be able to make enough money to eat I have much different opinions than were expressed on the podcast.
I’m all about everyone having their basic needs met regardless of their profession, but I don’t think of video-games as a labor of necessity. For example I’m much more concerned about agricultural laborers who are feeding us who may have a few rights but lack any political weight to make sure those rights are enforced. And I realize that someone can desire both indie devs getting paid enough for health-insurance and to eat food that isn’t grown in abusive conditions, but the way this situation is framed within the American economic system makes me feel that the two are related.
Think about what currency actually is. It is basically reified power to decide what jobs people do and who gets property-rights to the means of production. So asking that game-developers make a livable wage in the current economic system is saying that their efforts are more necessary than living wages elsewhere (that their labor and tools are going to benefit society most by making games). They are just making candy though (rather than filling a substantial need in this circumstance which is over-flowing with unmet substantial needs).
Personally, I’d prefer that very few folks be able to make a living of of making any sort of art until we have all our basic needs met. I’m sure that immigrant field-workers would like an opportunity to live as comfortably as any game-developer who can’t sell 500 copies of their game.
I like how older art-forms like poetry and song-writing and illustration are rarely economically viable. They don’t have the social benefit of something like teaching or medical care or growing food or maintaining roads and houses, but people still make art in their leisure-time. We just need everyone to get more leisure-time and a reasonable standard of living. Not ask that a game-developer have the power to get all those basic services on the backs of others due to their priviledged position and access on distribution channels or fame-luck.


So, I didn’t want to get into an argument when I woke up today, but fuck it, here I go.

(also, this is a US centric post so I apologize)

I don’t. They play a pivotal role in modern society and are necessary to modern human living. The people making such art deserve to be paid, just as anyone else in society. Frankly, I find it hard to believe that videogames have had a profound enough effect on you that you’d come to a forum about it, then say art-forms shouldn’t be economically viable. It clearly has enough value that you’d buy games and discuss their merits with others.

Art does have a social benefit though. Whether it be simple entertainment, giving people an easier way to empathize with different types of people, or the real socioeconomic benefits you’re saying it doesn’t have. Art builds communities. It creates cultural identity and communal pride. The Polish Prime Minister gave out former president a copy of the Witcher 2 as a gift representative of Poland for example, that’s got to mean something. This explains it better than I could though:

Source (worth reading too even if it’s 15 years old)


I understand the sentiment, but think you’re missing the point. Economic equality and ensuring living wages for everyone is a battle that should be fought on multiple fronts, not one at a time. Yes, we need to make life much more livable for immigrants. Hell, I wrote a (kinda poorly written) paper related to it if anyone’s interested in learning more about the struggles of immigrant families. We also need to make life more livable for people working retail jobs, teachers, social workers, people working public service, and yes, people working on crunch-time 18 hours a day on an AAA game. And there are many things as a society we should do to ensure that everyone’s life can be more livable. Single payer healthcare, $15 minimum wage (or further along, UBI’s), amnesty for undocumented immigrants, policy to make it easier for workers to unionize, and laws to fill all 18 fucking million empty homes in the US. There are a lot of laws that could be put into place that would benefit everyone, we should focus on those.

Also, worth noting, I think you’re overestimating how comfortable the lives of many devs actually are. Many live below the poverty line. I suppose your line of argument is that’s okay because that’s how the free market works. I guess what I’m trying to get at is that isn’t right. Art is just as important to modern society as anything else, and if someone wants to dedicate their life to it, they shouldn’t have to suffer. The free market stifles culture and that is bad for everyone, so it’s important that we fight for artists to be able to live decent lives, just as it’s important that we fight for anyone else in any other line of work.


I appreciate you expressing your opinion on this. I feel a need to clarify one point I made. When I said that art doesn’t have social benefit like food and housing, I meant it doesn’t need people dedicated to it exclusively. It’ll happen anyways and the standards aren’t as important to raise or maintain in art. I think you’ve already expressed that you feel differently but I wanted to be clear on my view.


You are right, I feel differently, but I do appreciate the clarification.