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IGDA DSS Results 2015

March 11th, 2015
  • Sumo

So, the IGDA is the International Game Developer’s Association, and I am a member (which costs me very little and makes me happier overall).
In 2014, they arranged a survey to figure out who is involved in the industry.  The survey was dubbed the Developer Satisfaction Survey (DSS), and they’ve just posted the findings.
They had a similar survey in 2005.  While combing through the newest results, I noticed some very odd trends.

I will conclude here for those that don’t want to read all the details:
If you already work in the industry, you’ve been there an average of 9 years and worked for an average of 3.5 companies.  If you aren’t in the industry, you are 46% of people.  You are most likely (76%) male.  You have a college degree (60%).  You are a programmer (33%).  You want to develop for Steam (76%), but you are currently developing for iPad (59%).  You’ve encountered ‘crunch time’ due to poor and unrealistic scheduling (53%).  You want to leave the industry because you want a better quality of life (39%).  You’ve never received a raise (20%), and you worry that you’ll lose your job next month( 25%).  You have a good or excellent relationship with management (53%), and you would either like to work for Valve (11%) or Blizzard (5%) if you aren’t working for an indie developer (48%).  Also, you might suffer from psychiatric or mental illness (5%).


Now for a blow-by-blow reading:

The first interesting tidbit was: 76% of respondents were Male.  Out of the 2,202 respondents, this means 1674 were male.
That was depressing, until I read the previous survey results from 2005 were a whopping 87%, but I would like to see it in the 60’s to truly feel like we’re getting somewhere.  Where have all the Veronica Belmonts gone?  Who will be the next Carol Shaw or Kellee Santiago?

Another weird number was those who claimed some form of disability: 17.5% identified as having a disability.  The largest disability listed was psychiatric and mental illness, which would be true: most game developer’s have some sort of problem mentally.  All kidding aside, I did find it strange that so many folks (385, roughly) have a disability.

Next was Education, where 39% of respondents have a college degree with an additional 21% holding a Graduate degree and 35% had a video game specific degree.  That’s a lot of smart people making our games.  Basically, 60% had a college degree or higher, so 1,321 have one and 462 of them have a video game degree.

Of course, the terrifying portion was that 46% of respondents were looking for their first job in the industry.  That totally freaked me out when compared with the previous education results.

Let’s do some quick math.  Out of 2,202 people 46% is 1013 folks looking for their first job.  If 21% have a graduate degree, that results in 213 with a Graduate degree who are looking for their first job.  If you’re paying attention, that’s 213 people who have a Master’s or higher who can’t get a job in the Video Game Industry (where is your God now?).  Of course, it could be that all the graduate degrees have a job, which means the 46% are actually 395 people who have a college degree and 618 people who don’t.  I’m not a statistician, so I just split the whole thing down the middle.  That means the real numbers from my mind are: 106 graduate degrees, 198 undergraduate degrees, and 709 ‘others’ are still looking for their first job.  That doesn’t seem too bad except 5% of respondents have a graduate degree and are looking for their first job.  9% have a college degree and are looking for their first job.  This means a whopping 32% of respondents looking for their first job in the industry don’t have a college degree.  Hey, that’s pretty good for those of us who have one!

Don’t lose heart.  I’m currently a programmer, but not in the video game industry.  I can honestly say I skewed the results because I selected ‘Still looking for my first job in the industry’ as my answer.  I am working on a graduate degree (in Video Game Design, no less), so I would fall within the 198 undergrads (unless I lied about completing my graduate degree and skewed the results further!!).  So, am I a sad-sack, unemployed homeless man on the street?  No, I’m just satisfied in my current employment.  In fact, I very much love my job.  I get to do a lot of different things, and I’m rarely bored.  Plus, I get to learn all the time and have wonderful benefits, but back to the DSS!

Of respondents, 33% classified themselves as programmers.  Game designers (27%) and Team leads (21%) were second and third, respectively.  This brought the truly saddest aspect of the survey.  The average number of years of people who are already in the industry have been there is 9.  Nine years is the average time people have spent in the industry.  If you are hoping to crack that egg, you are going to need more luck.  Over those nine years, they have worked for an average of 3.8 employers and worked on an average of 16 projects.  However, the most answered number (mode) of years in the industry is 3, meaning those folks have only worked for one employer.  This is also good, meaning that there are still opportunities.

Another depressing result was the number one reason people wanted to leave the industry.  At 39%, ‘I want a better quality of life’ was why people leave.  They’ve spent all this time trying to get in, and it turns out the quality of life is bad!?  That makes me so upset.  After watching the Indie Game movie, I could see exactly what they mean, though.  There was that one guy who was so miserable!

Having said that more than a third want to leave because of quality of life, longevity is good in the industry, with 75% reporting they had not been laid off in the last two years.
Plus, 76% of respondents who work in the industry are full-time employees.

That doesn’t mean you don’t have unpaid extra hours, which we call ‘crunch time’.  This is usually due to shipping deadlines and a rush to get a game out the door.  Poor and unrealistic scheduling was reported as the number one reason why ‘crunch time’ was encountered (53%).  Also, 56% reported that the pay for ‘crunch time’ was equitable.

But you aren’t going to get a raise, ever: 20% of respondents received no raises during their tenure in the industry.

And you might not be here very long: 25% of respondents were worried that their job would not be there next month, but you like your boss: 53% of respondents had ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ work relationships between managers and employees.

For development platforms, the iPad (59%), iPhone (57%), and PC (54%) were top three current and Steam (76%) was the highest future development platform.  This was reflected in the responses for the companies everyone wanted to work for: Top three most desired companies to work for are Valve(11%), Blizzard(5%), and BioWare(4.5%).

Triple A (AAA) isn’t the best place to work, and 48% of respondents would prefer to work for an indie company.  This is good news for indie companies, I guess.  It has never been a secret how EA or Activision treat their employees, so it should come as no surprise the preferred workplace.

In conclusion, I think the video game industry is coming along nicely, and Steam is certainly in control of development platforms.  Also, most of you are still probably psychotic.

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