Games industry journalist Jason Schreier has left his mark over the years by digging up behind-the-scenes dirt at sites like Kotaku and Bloomberg, but he’s perhaps best known for Blood, sweat and pixels. This 2017 book broke down as Schreier’s “greatest hits” collection: each chapter followed a particular game and its main studio through a wild “triple A” period of the late 2000s and early years. from 10 years.
If you have read BSP or one of Schreier’s other investigative stories, you’ll likely notice common threads in modern game studios, regardless of the genre or company in question. The first brilliant move of his latest book, Hit Reset: Ruin and Recovery in the Gaming Industryis to push this concept a little further. Individual games and studios get the occasional spotlight, but this time around, Schreier often follows individual developer resumes to answer a few big industry questions.
Press Reset: Ruin and Recovery in the Video Game Industry
What are some common issues faced by game developers big and small? Why is the industry so fickle? And what hope for developers caught in a labor market so clearly marked by turmoil and layoffs?
How far we got to Epic Scrooge
Press Reset has fewer mouthwatering news nuggets than you might expect from an average Schreier production, although if you’re just looking for a mix of history and game secrets, you’ll find these gems along the way.
But in a media world where a single title can be chosen, shared, and misinterpreted without anyone reading the source material, Schreier makes the wise decision to focus on arguably more mundane stories of individuals whose experiences are regularly lost. . To be fair, “trite” means these aren’t necessarily shocking stories of abuse and harassment. Rather, this book highlights the anger and grief that individuals experience when faced with an all-too-common problem in the gaming industry: layoffs.
Press Reset begins with a surprisingly candid dive into Warren Spector’s history as a game developer, fueled in large part by his own quotes and ideas. This opening section may make you expect Schreier’s usual approach for the rest of the book. And the chapter includes its fair share of private meeting times. One of the brand new tracks in the book confirms how the Epic mickey the game series has begun: Disney presented its Megaton Mouse to Spector as an available license – minutes after Spector suggested he was more interested in making a new Scrooge McDuck game. In another anecdote, Spector admits spending “a few months” in the mid-2000s working with Valve and Gabe Newell on a Half Life 2 episode before this project was canceled.
You go public, you survive for decades, you get acquired or you go bankrupt.
Yet the chapter slyly sets a tone for the rest of the book by making it clear that Spector – who is among the industry’s most idolized innovators thanks to his work on System shock and Deus Ex—has never been immune to the vagaries of the video game industry. Time and time again, Spector received funding from a new publisher or business partner, only to see the money dry up in a way that strained his hand. Its story focuses on Spector’s unpleasant decisions along the way. Usually he had to decide whether to pursue his projects at all costs or face the whims of publishers.
“The reality of the gaming industry is that there are four endings,” Spector tells Schreier in the book. “You go public, which nobody does. You survive for decades, like Valve. You are acquired. Or else, you go bankrupt.”