Tuesday, January 25th, 2022

The Metroid Dread Credit debate is sadly common

Image: Nintendo / Mercury Steam

Conversation around Metroid dread Almost positive since its launch, a recent topic that has sparked a lot of controversy and criticism by developer Mercury Steam is related to game credits. Multiple contributors to the game raised the fact that they were not credited, and the developers responded to clarify their internal policies. The statement is as follows:

Studio policy requires everyone to work on a project [for] At least 25% of the total development of the game will appear in the final credits … Exceptions may occur if you make exceptional contributions.

There is a problem with this policy, so let me briefly explain some perspectives. The two contributors who mentioned the case online set their time at the company to 8 and 11 months. Therefore, the latter is probably overlooked, as the project has been in development for more than four years.

The question of thresholds, such as “25% of total development,” is how vague and vulnerable is when a development project starts. Was it when Mercury Steam first talked to Nintendo about dreads, or when they took the lead in creating pitch decks? Or maybe it was when the game conceptualization and planning gist began. The point is that everything is definitely a “starting point” and can have a significant impact on the definition of its development period.

Another issue is that you can work for 11 months when your project is in the most productive phase at full speed, delivering large amounts of content to a wider range of games. This metric is not credited. It’s also very common in game development to hire new hires and contractors on fixed and short-term contracts. Of course, temporary staff is a factor in all areas of work life, but in the production of major games, the size of the studio can grow dramatically and move forward in a relatively short period of time, after which those contracts Expired and many workers are looking for the next opportunity. I don’t know if that was the case here, teeth General.

Rock star credit
Image: Rockstar Games has been criticized on this topic in the past

As highlighted in Eurogamer article In this topic, it’s inaccurate to describe Mercury Steam as the only criminal in this regard, as it occurs in a variety of companies. In many respects, the company follows its own industry norms. It’s not just retail / triple A space. I and the NL team Kate Gray have worked in the indie game development and publishing scene in the past and have discussed credit issues earlier this year. Even very small teams have debates over these acknowledgments, and those who play or contribute to multiple roles and then move on are ignored or placed in the general “special thanks” section. You must to do something before you go on. Discussing credit titles can be as difficult as including a name in the first place.

Why is this important? Well, for one thing, not being properly credited is definitely harmful to someone’s career. For everyone working in the industry, each job, each contract, contributes to a portfolio that helps advance that career. It seems unfair to say that someone has worked on the game for nearly a year, but only if the potential employer looks up the credit and doesn’t see the name. It’s like the signature of my article from my first stint on Nintendo Life was removed when I moved to publishing for three years to find an equivalent in the space on the website. That would be unfair (and, of course, it didn’t happen!).

The question is how normal it has been for game publishers and developers of all sizes to ignore or downplay their contributions to the game. This happens in other creative industries (movies, music, books, the same discussion can be found in those areas), but it’s still a young, in a sense immature industry, so it definitely gets worse in games. increase. While there are unions and delegates trying to defend creators of all kinds in other industries, the game is at a stage where it relies primarily on organizations that provide advocacy and awareness, but with little solid influence. There is no actual oversight or universal standard for how contributor credit works, so every company is effectively promoting it. The problem with that is that not all industry leadership tends to have fair policies.

Dread cool shot
Image: Nintendo / Nintendo Life

What is the solution? Due to the lack of industry standards, we stick to relying on company owners and project leaders to “do the right thing”. As emphasized above, the Mercury Steam policy (for example, it’s certainly not the worst) is too vague and potentially unfair. Ultimately, a fixed window will suffice, just as probation works when starting a new job. Is it 3 months or 6 months? Is it enough time to ensure that someone makes a full credible contribution?

I think so, but I think we need to talk with developers and project leaders and learn from their expertise. In any case, the fixed period seems more fair to creators of all kinds, rather than a hoofless policy. Too many contributors to the games we love, such as scripting, editing, coding, and concept art, are overlooked.

After all, it’s an industry-wide concern. Undoubtedly, there are game developers and publishers who trust people properly, so the industry needs to learn from them. Everyone enjoys making great video games. It’s passion and way of life. When someone contributes to this wonderful medium, they deserve recognition.