Cry me a fuckin' river.
At Volition, D’Angelo began working his way up the ladder. Then, after two years he moved to a video game start-up, where he worked as a Lead Sound Designer, leading a team of engineers.
This is a lie. It's the sort of lie that permeates the piece. There's this idea that video games are the product of giant happy squads of armies of trained sararimen who roll into work in the same place each day and drink from the same coffee pot. And it's pure horse shit.
Speaking as an audio designer with lots of friends in the video game industry (we're talkin' department heads at AAAA studios), there is no room for me. I know this. Everybody knows this. It has been explored, it has been examined, it is known. CTRL-F "audio" on this page. That's a tiny, puny little boutique called Bungie that has two full-time audio employees: Audio Design Lead and Composer And Audio Design Lead. Everyone else? Contract/temp/work for hire. And "everyone else" is five guys. How 'bout a wakeup call? Here's the audio studio at Bungie.
Now here's the one in my spare bedroom.
Yet you've heard of Destiny! And you haven't heard of me! How could it be!!?!?!?!!???!?!?!!??????????
As with all "many are called but few are chosen" industries, there's always an army of fresh meat eager to work for nothing so long as they can write letters home describing how they're living the dream and they sure as shit didn't waste $150k on a worthless degree. Meanwhile their parents are slipping them cash so they can make rent and fuckin' hell if you grew up playing Grand Theft Auto the mere idea of being pixelmonkey number 432 working on anything Rockstar is enough to pop their boners. Shangri-fuckin'-la.
Meanwhile there's the class of 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008,2007,2006,2005 and all the rest of the turtles who are also competing for that work and let's be honest for a minute: if you were an 18-year-old intern working on Pac Man in 1980, you're only 56 now. The whole of the video game industry has yet to retire a single generation of workers; Shigeru Miyamoto's kids are barely old enough to be design leads. Which means all those eager young faces trying to make a living? They can't wait for someone to retire. They have to force someone out.
The industry has never not been cut-throat and unrewarding.
Li'l story. I know a guy who got an MFA in film. What he wanted more than anything was to work on sci fi stuff. Lucasfilm hired him as a pixelmonkey to animate clone hordes on Phantom Menace. He was happy as a pig in shit. Still is, so far as I know. He had no ambition, no drive, and was perfectly happy to sit in front of Maya all day, rendering backgrounds that people would see 18 frames of maybe. But he's a senior citizen now. He's surrounded by munchkins fresh outta school willing to take minimum wage to push someone else's dream. And the guys who finished Phantom Menace and thought "there must be something better than this?" They've long since moved on.
This is the bitter truth of the entertainment industry - ALL entertainment industries. The vanishing few that can support a stable living have had to prove themselves over and over and over and over and over again such that they've earned the right to a meager living.
There's a great scene in Swimming with Sharks where Frank Whaley is sitting in a bar talking to fellow producers about a friend interviewing Shelley Winters for a role and she pulls an Oscar out of her purse. He asks another question and she pulls out another Oscar. He asks another question and she pulls out another Oscar. Frank Whaley sits there for a minute, waiting for a reaction, and one of his friends says "who's Shelly Winters?"
I had lunch with a producer buddy once. He relayed to me that he'd just had a beer with a fellow producer who had some impossibly old guy in to pitch screenplays, it was pathetic. Any old guy in particular? No, just some guy. What was his name? "Milli- milli - milli vanilli or some shit.
I know a guy who fired Takashi Nishiyama. I know a guy who fired Ron Gilbert. And I haven't talked to either one of them in five years, so it's not like this is a new development.
There is no "great video game exodus." There's just dreamers who wake up.
Same as the rest of the entertainment industry.