i introduced myself to residents at the Canadian Film Centre Media Lab this week, by telling them about my background making web games for a Canadian broadcaster. i said that after my tenure there, i had over fifty games to my name … and then i paused. “To my name.” i corrected myself – i had worked on over fifty games, but not one of them had been to my name. In over seven years at the place, i had not been credited on a single game.
If i could receive credit, i would reveal that this is, in fact, a picture of me.
The story continues today. A new client – an animation company – asked to partner with us on a Request for Proposal. They asked me to provide a credits list. i had never heard of such a thing. i told them that i could provide a list of games and projects we’ve worked on, but i confided that i hadn’t actually been credited on anything. This was despite over two years of operation as Untold Entertainment.
Disavow All Knowledge
A prospective client, a broadcaster, contacted me a few weeks ago and asked me to bid on a project. i came back with a very competetive price, but one of my stipulations was that i wanted to link to the finished project from my website, and to host a video of gameplay on my site in case the client’s link ever went down. The prospective client adamantly refused to allow this. “Media Conglomorate X is a self-contained, self-sufficient entity that does NOT outsource work to vendors (even though we do).” The issue was a sticking point for me, and i declined the contract.
Still another teevee client made it a make-or-break condition of a contract on a six-month job that we didn’t link to or mention the project on our website. We could talk about the project in any medium other than web, including (presumably) film, teevee, physical sell-sheets, and interpretive dance. They allowed for these, knowing that the only place we promote our work is on our website.
i have taken work from teevee clients who have revealed to me that they’re no longer hiring a colleague of mine, because he has started asking for credit on final projects.
The Credit Double Standard
This all leads me to believe that while those of us who have been involved in video games all our lives see it as a legitimate medium, the Old Guard – particularly teevee people, and especially Canadian broadcasters – don’t. Everyone who works on a film, down to the seemingly most insignificant person who holds the lunch platter (the “sandwich grip”), gets credited by name at the end of the movie. And in cases where animated movies or special effects-heavy flicks outsource shots to other production companies, you see those production companies listed by name, with all of their employees individually credited.
Ever read the liner notes on a music album? The guy who played the triangle gets a credit.
i don’t mean to knock it – it’s a beautiful instrument.
Ever watch the credit roll at the end of a teevee show? The Executive Producer on the broadcaster side who had nothing to do with the conception or production of the show gets a credit – usually top-billing.
But what do they give a web game developer who handles the art, animation, programming, writing, voice-over, sound effects, music composition and performance, bug testing and sandwich holding? Bupkiss. No credit. And worse – the threat of a lost contract to anyone who dares ask for credit.
This picture comes up in a Google Image Search for “bupkiss”. No idea why it does, but the image seems appropriate.
i know many of the posts i write here are rife with griping, ranting and finger-pointing, but in this event it’s justified. Old Guard teevee types who pack a show’s credit list with names, but who refuse to acknowledge that a single soul (and in my case, ONLY a single soul) worked on a video game supporting that show, should be publicly shamed. So here i am, publicly shaming them.
For shame!! The people who work on a project must be credited for their work on that project. Vendors must be permitted to showcase that work on their own sites, so that they can successfully contract more work. And the medium of video games – web games included – must be treated as a significant one. The creators of web games are worthy to be recognized to the same degree as producers of film, teevee, music, and radio.