Updated: Dec 19, 2019
It is no secret that people are expected to work longer, harder hours and in the creative industries that is no different. Wether you are working In house or freelance, In game design or illustration, the workload at times is going to be severe. When you are working to a deadline you simply have to hit it, someone might be paying you for a service or you might be creating a product that has to release at a certain time. Not hitting it can mean losing a lot of money and having unhappy clients, customers or shareholders. Creatives know at times they are going to have to work through the night, or they have to put more hours into a project than they were expecting and have ended up working for £1.17 an hour. Most creatives accept these kinds of things as occasional downsides to being able to do what they love as a job. At the moment however there is a toxic culture forming in people who benefit from the creative industries. “I want a product, I want it now, I want it for free and it better be good.” Of course it is understandable that people want to buy products or pay for services that are of a high quality but people need realistic expectations of what can be delivered within budget and within the deadline. And nobody should have to work for free.
This has been most noticeable to me in illustration, which I see on a daily basis and in two of the biggest AAA game titles of the last year, Red Dead Redemption 2 and Battlefield V. People were really excited for those games to release, myself included, but they have been surrounded by controversy since before release. RDR2 had people complaining about 100 hour work weeks and then the multiplayer only released recently. But you can’t expect arguably Rockstar's most anticipated title in their history to release without people having to work long hours to make sure the game is as finished as it can be. It is far from ideal but to hit deadlines sometimes you have to do that. If they didn’t hit the 26th October release window the same people who were complaining about long work hours would have been complaining about the game being delayed again. BFV was delayed and then has only started to feel like it is in what should have been its launch state in the last month. But BFV had a very short development window and has suffered because of that. It takes the developers months to create new maps. Both games have their fair share of bugs and the respective companies are releasing little information about upcoming content. This has angered the communities of both games and I understand some of the frustration when you spend £50+ on a game. Yes, you should expect updates but these are massively complex games that take a lot of time and a lot of man hours to create. The developers have to be allowed time to improve existing content and create new content.
The expectations placed on all creatives, across all disciplines, need to be more realistic. You can’t expect any kind of content to magically appear, it takes time. If I'm producing a commission for someone, that is going to take between 100 and 200 hours. I'm not and cannot work 175 hours straight so you get your artwork quicker. Now I could scrawl something on a piece of board in a couple of hours but would you want to pay for that? Of course not. Content can take months to create, and people work really hard on it but it can only be released when it is ready.
I understand we live in a society that is used to having everything they want immediately available to them with their own social media platforms to instantly express their opinion, but there is no one size fits all blueprint for design. Projects no matter what they are take time, effort and money to complete.