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Is ageism the only prejudice the industry isn't discussing?

David Mullich led a GDC panel that cast light on a new problem facing a traditionally young industry

In the last few years, discrimination and prejudice have become perhaps the most frequently and fervently debated topics in this industry. For the most part, the discussion has focused on gender, sexcuality and race, with both the games and the companies that make them under closer scrutiny than ever before. Most people would agree that this is a good sign, a positive trend, an indication that both the medium and the billion-dollar business constructed around it is striving for greater maturity. Not everyone, sadly, but most.

However, in a provocative session on the final day of GDC in San Francisco, David Mullich highlighted one area where prejudice, bias and alienation are going unrecognised, even at a time when similar issues occupy column inches on a daily basis.

Mullich is what we in the press often call "a veteran." Now 59 years old, he has been making games for 36 years, contributing to more than 60 different projects in both development and production roles over the course of his career. No matter when you started playing games, there's a good chance you were aware of a product to which Mullich made an important contribution. The Prisoner in 1980. Duck Tales in 1990. Heroes of Might & Magic 3 in 1999. Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines in 2004.

"I haven't worked on a AAA game since 2004. It has become harder and harder for me to find jobs, and particularly after I got past 50"

David Mullich

In all that time, Mullich has been made laid off on ten occasions. That's a condition of working in the games industry, as any seasoned developer will know, but as Mullich reached his mid-Forties something changed. Six periods of redundancy took no more than one month to resolve, then, at the age of 47, finding work took four months. At 50, it took nine months. At 52, it was 14 months. And his most recent redundancy was followed by a 19 month search for another position.

"I haven't worked on a AAA game since 2004, over ten years ago," he said. "The reason for that, I thought, was that the economy has been poor, or that I've worked on platforms that are no longer as popular as they were. But I have found that, over the years, it has become harder and harder for me to find jobs, and particularly after I got past 50 years old."

The decisive moment arrived in August last year, when Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines was named one of the best games of all time in a list published by the hugely popular Empire Magazine. On the same day, Mullich received a rejection letter from an unnamed company that wouldn't even grant him a first interview. He noted the irony in a post on Facebook, and was met with a deluge of responses.

"All of them telling me that the reason was due to my age. I thought, 'How on earth could it be due to my age?' I'm still creative. I still work crunch hours. I still love video games and roller coasters and Dr Who. My Facebook picture is of me in an Iron Man costume for chrissakes."

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Still, Mullich couldn't entirely dispel the myriad other possible explanations floating around his head. He dug a little deeper, asking recruiters and interviewers for any and all feedback they could offer on their reasons for passing him by.

"The sort of thing I heard was, 'He seemed burned out.' Now, I'm as enthusiastic about making games as I was in my Twenties, but I have noticed that age has mostly taken its toll around my eyes, making them heavy. I can now look sleepy even when I'm alert.

"I also got the feedback that, 'He was too arrogant.' That was [from an interview] to be Head of Development at a studio, where I emphasised my years and years of experience producing games. And I realised that the person I was talking to had less experience than I did, and so I wondered if he felt threatened by that.

"I tried going after lower level producer positions, junior producer positions, and I was told there was concern that I was going to leave for a higher paying opportunity. For another position, I was told I didn't fit into their culture. Another person straight up told me, during the interview, that everyone here is 'young and energetic' - the person who told me that was 20 years younger than myself."

By that point, Mullich could no longer ignore the mounting evidence of prejudice based on age. The industry was lagging far behind its growing audience in terms of the diversity in its workforce, and the available data lent credence to that theory: according to the ESRB, Mullich said, 26 per cent of gamers are over 50; by contrast, the ESA put just 1 per cent of industry workers in the same age group. Hungry for more insight, he published an article laying out his concerns.

"There definitely is a problem that many people are feeling. That conversation starts today"

David Mullich

"It got more than 75 responses and dozens of emails, telling me things like, 'If you're looking for work over the age of 30, employers think there must be something wrong with you,' and 'What you achieved years ago is of minor interest compared to what you achieved in the last 12 months.'

"And then some people admitted to me their own thoughts about older workers: 'Old people don't make good crunchers,' 'Old people are not innovative,' and one younger person admitted that there was ageism at their company: 'As a young manager I have to admit that ageism is a thing here.'

"There definitely is a problem that many people are feeling," Mullich concluded. "That conversation starts today. And I'm here to let you know that it isn't going to be a pity party"

As a journalist, this kind of issue is difficult to represent in an objective manner. Even Mullich was inclined to seek alternate explanations at first, after all, and his subsequent findings were largely based on anecdotal research and common sense interpretation. However, there are many others within the industry highlighting similar problems, and not just the four people joining Mullich for his GDC panel.

Last month alone, Gamasutra published two articles that expressed very real concern about what the games industry has in store for the people that wish to dedicate their entire creative lives to working within it, and not just 15 or 20 years. At the age of just 37, Greg Wondra already feels like he's in the "twilight" of his career, drawing a parallel between the life of a game designer and that of a professional athlete.

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"The best I've gotten in the past 7 months is a short term contract gig," Wondra said. "Who wants to pay a veteran's salary when there's younger, more naive workers in the wings?"

Similarly, Laralyn McWilliams pondered turning 50 years old in an industry with, "an uncomfortable relationship to age and experience" - qualities often eclipsed by the tendency to push new talent through the ranks as quickly as possible.

"I joked with my boyfriend that, 'The only thing worse than being a woman game designer is being a fifty-year-old woman game designer.' After the words came out of my mouth, I realised part of me wasn't joking. I debated whether to say in public that I'm 50 years old, and what effect that might have on my career."

Like Mullich, neither Wondra nor McWilliams conducted rigorous surveys, relying instead on their personal experiences and those of their friends and peers. But even without the raw data and comprehensive statistics to to back it all up, this is an issue that simply feels true. The modern games industry was established by creative young people, with a young audience in mind, little more than 40 years ago. When pioneering figures like Shigeru Miyamoto and Will Wright have yet to reach pensionable age, is it any wonder that the industry is ill prepared to accommodate talent from an age group with which it has never been closely associated - that is, until recently.

The industry is rightly proud of the new-found diversity within its growing audience. That trend has been a catalyst for sorely needed analysis of representations of sexuality, gender and ethnicity within its products, and the professional opportunities offered to those same groups. In becoming more inclusive, the industry will create better and richer products that will satisfy an even wider variety of interests and tastes - essentially, everybody wins.

"By next year, 35 per cent of the American workforce will be over the age of 50. That's a big number"

Jill Miller

And yet if Mullich is correct, age has been overlooked in this regard, despite the number of older gamers rising in tandem with the number of older developers in the industry's workforce. When Mullich had finished speaking, he introduced Jill Miller, a human resources specialist who has worked with games companies for almost as long as it has been possible to do so. Let's put it like this: she was employee no. 17 at Electronic Arts.

"In one of those companies, I was interviewing a job candidate and a couple of people wandered past," she said. "They peeked in, and I heard one of them to say to the other, 'Who is that old woman talking with Jill? I hope they're not gonna hire her.' Well, we did hire her, and that 'old woman' was 40 years old.

"So, the question is, what does old age look like in this industry?"

Quite understandably, Miller didn't have a photograph of the "old woman" who found herself the subject of her soon-to-be colleagues' scorn. But she did have a photograph of her own daughter at exactly the same age. Miller gestured to the image, and turned back to the crowd.

"And this is what old age looks like in the games industry. And 35, even 30, can be considered old in some companies. That's astonishing to me. By next year, 35 per cent of the American workforce will be over the age of 50. That's a big number, and it gets even bigger when you toss in the 40-somethings. It goes up to 41 per cent of the workforce. That's a huge part of the talent pool for any company to be ignoring. If you're trying to grow, if you're trying to innovate and compete for talent, you need those people.

"So, why are there so few [older workers] in the games industry, and why are the ones that are here not more successful? It's because their careers are being torpedoed."

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Latest comments (33)

Andrzej Wroblewski Localization Generalist, Albion Localisations2 years ago
Sir Mullich (WoG reference!) and the author missed the point here. Idolizing perfect salesmen of their bottomless wells of ideas is exactly what's responsible for the decline in AAA games consistency in the past 10 years. Seasoned developers bring perspective which refines those outbursts of epiphanies into ideas fitting the game universe instead of dissonating it. In order to be able to see it however... one must also be capable of perspective thinking. Which brings me to the usual suspect and culprit: the marketing.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Andrzej Wroblewski on 12th March 2015 3:56pm

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Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development2 years ago
Stop hiring n00bz to keep the wage bill down. Hire several talented people with plenty of broad experience who command a big salary - that will keep the wage bill down and fix any ageist perceptions at the same time.

I don't have a problem with youngsters being ageist toward me tbh. I'm 46 and have been a pro game developer for 30 of them. If any kids think that makes me an incompetent hasbeen, then all it really confirms is that they know nothing. :)

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Paul Johnson on 12th March 2015 5:30pm

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Nick McCrea Gentleman, Pocket Starship2 years ago
Something that makes this worse, in my view, is the very fad-obsessed nature of the software industry. There's a constant evolution of terms / jargon / frameworks / approaches / patterns / fashions, and an ever-shifting set of do's and don'ts. These are mostly driven by pragmatism and improving tools, but there's often a touch of zealotry involved in the conversion process.

The particular software era you came of age in can date you (like Carbon 14) and can lead to a kind of generational affiliation on software teams, where familiarity with the latest and greatest signals your worth to your peers, fairly or unfairly. In other words, aside from the fact that older programmers look physically older, and may be from a different generation altogether than their younger peers, there's an additional software culture gap to be bridged which can be the most difficult.

This cuts both ways, but with older developers generally seeking other pastures for pay / stability reasons, those who remain tend to be outnumbered, definitely to the industry's detriment as a whole.
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Show all comments (33)
Felix Leyendecker Senior 3D Artist, Crytek2 years ago
It is a problem and I'm feeling the pinch myself. The industry is getting really saturated with talent. You have to find ways to make your experience count for something.

Of course, in many ways, something like this has been overdue. The abundance of learning material on the internet, the advancement of middleware, and the democratization of the distribution all contribute to it. Just because you're old and experienced doesn't mean you're super talented, 15-20 years ago everything was a lot more technical, turning away lots of people that can't be arsed to learn assembler programming or make levels with a hex editor. The barriers to entry are lowering, not only for the video game market, but for the development side as well. All in all, I think it's a good thing for the medium - for developers, this is just one more quality of life issue of many.
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Steven Hodgson Programmer, Code in Progress Ltd2 years ago
"I also got the feedback that, 'He was too arrogant.' That was [from an interview] to be Head of Development at a studio, where I emphasised my years and years of experience producing games. And I realised that the person I was talking to had less experience than I did, and so I wondered if he felt threatened by that.
Is that a joke? That last sentence is quite arrogant.
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Igor Galochkin Game Programmer 2 years ago
I'm 33 now and last time I worked as an employee I was 31. When talking to my co-workers at lunch, I kept feeling that I'm an "old fart" because I found games like Alpha Centauri, Fallout 2 and Baldur's Gate 2 great. "Fallout 2?", they asked, "Hmm, I recall playing Fallout 3, well..." So, 31 also feels pretty old.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Igor Galochkin on 12th March 2015 6:21pm

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Tim Carter Designer - Writer - Producer 2 years ago
Nah... Ageism isn't the only prejudice.
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Pete Leonard , Amiqus2 years ago
I dont think so personally Steven. I think all he is saying is he pondered IF it was an issue not succumbing to some confirmation bias that it must be that.

It's not super prevalent, but as a games recruiter myself I do see this enough for it to be an issue. People trust their own instincts ergo some employers feel that after a certain amount of time some candidates must be over the hill. Thing is that DOES happen: people do tire of crunch, people do run out of ideas, people don't always adapt to new platforms etc.

But most do adapt.

Thing is most get turned away to avoid hiring the 20% (my own estimation based on my 10 years of experience - no proven stats here I admit) that do actually get burned out.

It's something for hirers to be aware of, but the response from some of them over the years I often feel can be over zealous because most candidates do buck the trend. I know of one graphics programmer in the industry who wanted to retire for ages but lucrative contracts kept coming in because he was so good.

At 72!! Fair play!

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Pete Leonard on 12th March 2015 6:55pm

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David Mullich Game Production Instructor, Los Angeles Film School2 years ago
Is that a joke? That last sentence is quite arrogant.
No, joke! In preparing for my talk, I was told by a number of people that they had been interviewed by someone much younger but believed that they didn't get the position because the hiring manager didn't want to manage someone with more experience. So, that left me wondering if that might have been a possibility with me.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by David Mullich on 12th March 2015 10:16pm

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Julian Williams Founder, WIZDISH Ltd.2 years ago
It has to be easier to make games for people like oneself. By limiting the demographics of your staff you are limiting your audience. Some of those best able to afford to buy games find little to attract them and that may be because they are not adequately represented amongst those who make them.
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Matthew Handrahan European Deputy Editor, GamesIndustry.biz2 years ago
Steven, for balance I'd also urge you ro read Laralyn's article, via the link. She describes similar experiences. Whether you believe these accounts is, of course, up to you. Personally, I found no reason to doubt their veracity.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Matthew Handrahan on 12th March 2015 11:58pm

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Bonnie Patterson Narrative Designer, Writer 2 years ago
It's an odd prejudice to have, especially in the games industry, and extra-especially in the current pro-indie, pro-retro, pro-gameplay market,

Sure, younger folks might, for instance, have more off-the-bat experience with current industry standard programming languages and design tools. But those old coders learned a solid basis in assembly language and tend to be highly adaptable (Assembler got dropped from my CS-Eng degree course the year before I started, so we had to teach ourselves in order to understand our Compilers homework, and I gather many other universities did similarly). And very rarely are young graduates expected to walk into a job already au-fait with every tool and standard they use - a strong emphasis in most courses today is to learn how to learn new tools and languages quickly, simply because of how fast the technical side of the industry evolves and how often standards change.

Very often, I'm told, it does come down to concerns over older people working for younger ones. Given their greater experience, will they do as they're told or insist that they know better? What if they don't fit in with the company's culture? How long can we expect them to continue working for us?

Sadly, these quibbles tend to be without merit, at least when applied specifically to older workers. The young are easily as likely as the old to have issues accepting an authority structure, and this should be assessed through interviews and references, not by counting the grey hairs. Companies aren't supposed to encourage cultures where certain demographics won't be able to work - that's what anti-discrimination and hostile workplace laws are all about. And given that most "young" people change jobs every 2-6 years and the retirement age has gone up, one is very unlikely to see an older worker for any less than average, and quite likely to see more return on their investment as older workers tend to stick longer to single companies.

What I've seen in a few cases has been folks in their fifties running very successful consultancies to the very firms that felt they were too old to hire. But that's not an option open to everyone - running your own business, promoting it, getting contacts and customers, is a whole different skillset on top of the one you want to consult about.

Top that off with the government's employment schemes perpetually excluding anyone out of their 20s (Oh, you want to do a 3-day course to update your COBOL to C#? It's free to people in their early 20s, but as a fully-grown adult with a lifetime's worth of expenses and responsibilities, you'll have to take out a loan. Let me call one of these dodgy salesmen we apparently pay to charge you for running them. He used to sell new roofs to people with Alzheimers, so I'm sure he can coax you into buying a £2500 course that claims to update your IT skills but will, in fact, mostly consist of someone explaining e-mail to you very slowly.) and we've reached a place where if you're not sitting in a secure job by the time you hit your mid-forties, you are out-of-work and out-of-luck.

Your pension is worthless and no-one will employ you and your brain will slowly slide into Alzeimer's with the twin lubricants of boredom and depression. And when you die, we're just going to roll you down the hill into the hedge behind the cemetary so we can resell the coffin.

But don't forget to vote!
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George Williams Owner 2 years ago
My first job in games was in QA. I left a well paid career as I fancied a change. I was 30 at the time, my boss interviewing me was 25. I had zero experience, loved games and had passion. If it wasn't for him taking a chance, I probably wouldn't have had the opportunity. Everyone was younger than me,(it was QA so sure it was gonna be?!)

I think if you are older, its having the right attitude as well. Being older doesn't instantly give you the 'right' to march in to a new career thinking you know it all. Being open minded to all those around you, learning new ideas from those younger than yourself is a joy. Of course, it can work both ways as you all develop your skill set.

However, I experienced a different kind of discrimination within games and it wasn't pleasant.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by George Williams on 13th March 2015 10:51am

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Sandy Lobban Founder, Noise Me Up2 years ago
Ageism is simply a result of incompetence elsewhere in the chain of events. Any company that embraces the idea, for whatever reason, is probably worth avoiding. Especially if you are young.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Sandy Lobban on 13th March 2015 11:11am

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Jeff Wesevich Audio Engineer, EA Sports2 years ago
As long as you maintain the desire and ability to add value to projects, you will be hired and valued, no matter what your age. I'm proof of that assertion. The instant you start believing that you're something different because you were the "Lead X" on "Award-Winning Game Y," you're doomed--use your experience to your project's advantage--don't wave it about as if you're trying to connect with a piñata. And above all, avoid the irresistible temptation to tell war stories and reference other games--it bores the crap out of your cube mates--ask the ones who sit around me... :)
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Greg Knight Freelance Developer 2 years ago
If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.

Red Adair
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Steven Hodgson Programmer, Code in Progress Ltd2 years ago
No, joke! In preparing for my talk, I was told by a number of people that they had been interviewed by someone much younger but believed that they didn't get the position because the hiring manager didn't want to manage someone with more experience. So, that left me wondering if that might have been a possibility with me.
Hi David.

The problem is you were told by the people who went for an interview, and not the interviewer themselves. They won't know the real reason they weren't hired if it wasn't the one they were given, and maybe were a little prejudiced themselves since they took notice of how young the interviewer was.

If I go for an interview and the interviewer is a woman, if eventually they hire a woman for the role, I don't assume they're being gender biased, I assume the person they hired is a more skilled programmer or are better for the job because of their experience in past projects.
If their hiring policies are skewed in a company I'd be happy I didn't get hired by them, I don't want to work for a company like that, but that is my opinion.

I haven't had the chance to interview someone with more experience yet, but a few years ago a friend did an interview with someone they referred to as a veteran of the games industry. Before the interview they were concerned that they would be looked down upon as an interviewer because of their younger age and inexperience in comparison.
The reason they didn't get the job wasn't because of their age, but because the company they were being interviewed for couldn't match what they wanted for a salary.

There will be prejudice in places, how far spread is hard to know since the real reasons people don't get hired aren't transparent. Like in Laralyn's article that Matthew told me to read, "cultural fit" could mean being too old, but it could also mean that they are too energetic for a laid back environment. It would be nice to have interviewers tell of reasons they refused people, but without anonymity I doubt that will happen.
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David Vandepeer Junior Artist & Designer 2 years ago
Ageism? At least these people got a shot. 60 Titles? I graduated in 2014 and I still for the life of me cannot get ANY job in the games industry. Catering better for veterans? How about you cater a little more to the people who are looking to get their first shot in a games company? How about you have opportunities for people who want a chance? At least you have experienced it, I have been trying for a year to be given my first opportunity and no one wants to give it to me.

We don't need to cater to veterans they have already made it and are already getting jobs albeit a little intermittently. This industry needs to make way for people who are looking to find their way into an opportunity. There is no guaranteed entrance and you always have to confront the companies directly about working with them (because they never advertise internships). You also have to tailor your work around the companies style etc. and lets face it why would you do that if there's still a good chance they will turn you down.
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Nick McCrea Gentleman, Pocket Starship2 years ago
David, I suggest you look into the fallacy of relative privation.
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Is ageism really the problem or is the games industry being rejected by those older people fed up with constantly moving for their next job.

That's the issue that needs fixing.
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Charles Herold Wii Games Guide, about.com2 years ago
John, how do you read an article about older people going for job interview after job interview and not getting hired and come away with the idea that the problem is these older people are rejecting the game industry?
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@ Charles
John, how do you read an article about older people going for job interview after job interview and not getting hired and come away with the idea that the problem is these older people are rejecting the game industry?
Because I think it's a symptom not a cause of why this is particularly an issue for the games industry. You're always going to have these issues if older people leave the industry because it ultimately means more senior positions will be taken by younger people which will lead to ageism. It's hard to manage and hire people older than you and hard to be managed by people younger than you.
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Gary LaRochelle Digital Artist / UI/UX Designer / Game Designer, Flea Ranch Games2 years ago
You're always going to have these issues if older people leave the industry because it ultimately means more senior positions will be taken by younger people which will lead to ageism. It's hard to manage and hire people older than you and hard to be managed by people younger than you.
Easy to solve that problem: Just hire an older more experienced worker for the manager's position and that problem goes away. You'll also be able to hire more experienced workers. Hiring a manager with an inferiority complex is just going to hurt your studio.

A lot of the older more experienced workers don't willingly leave the industry. They lose their jobs because of cut backs or studios shutting down. They then find out that agism is a real thing while trying to land another job in the game industry.

The game industry is one of the only industries where experienced workers are avoided.
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Mark Jessup Creative Director, TinkerHouse Games2 years ago
In my early 30's, I was a creative director at a biggish game company here in the States. One day, I came in to interview an art director who was easily in her 50's by all appearances. And I'm ashamed to admit that at the time, my first and abiding gut reaction was, "no way."
Why? For many of the same reasons people have already listed above. I just didn't think she would share our team's sensibilities or intuition for modern design. I didn't give her a fair shot, pretty much from the moment I first saw her.
And that's really too bad, because now I realize she could've potentially added a lot to our efforts. We were all pretty young and ran a little hot emotionally, given too easily to drama and overreaction, and were not always able to see the big picture for the daily races.
Her experience, not just in the industry but in navigating interpersonal relationships (which is a HUGE part of any job, don't kid yourself) could've been a huge asset to my team. And frankly, she could absolutely have possessed the energy, drive, and innovation we needed. But I wouldn't know because I never bothered to find out.
Unfortunately, experience is something you appreciate far more once you have it than when you're just looking up at it. I hope a future generation will do what I failed to do when I had the chance. Because now, as a professional in my 40's, I understand full well what I can still bring to the table but also that I'm skiing uphill when it comes to proving it.
Experience is a good thing; it's a valuable attribute. It can empower innovation and help light the way forward.
But I'm not sure what you can do about it. It's a perception-based bias...as old as the hills? Perception trumps facts as often as not. To rectify the problem you have to be willing to admit you may be a part of it and that's a difficult thing to do sometimes.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Mark Jessup on 13th March 2015 7:25pm

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Julian Cram Producer 2 years ago
Ageism is built into the system of employment.

As an older gentleman who has tried to find work abroad in his chosen field of game development, not only do I get overlooked because of my age, my age prevents me gaining employment visas.

I don't have a relationship, I don't have a house, I don't have children or pets, my possessions can fit into a 12x12 storage container, yet I have been overlooked for so many roles because even though I have a very impressive resume working on a huge number of games big and small, I am simply too old for a working holiday visa, and need to be sponsored.
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@Gary
Easy to solve that problem: Just hire an older more experienced worker for the manager's position and that problem goes away. You'll also be able to hire more experienced workers. Hiring a manager with an inferiority complex is just going to hurt your studio.
It's not easy to solve. What does "just" hire an older more experienced worker mean?

If there's only 1 older worker and 9 younger workers the chance of that older worker meriting being hired is 10%. If you hire an older worker at the expense of a younger worker due to age then that creates an issue for the whole company.

The problem and yes this is the same as the issue with women is the fact there isn't enough older workers going for the jobs and also retaining the jobs. This is due to the hire and fire and not valuing experience (not age) culture that seems to be the major endemic problem of the games industry and frankly modern society in general but that's the culture we live and just have to accept it. Simply choosing which groups we protect at the expense of others is not the solution.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by John Owens on 15th March 2015 3:17pm

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Gary LaRochelle Digital Artist / UI/UX Designer / Game Designer, Flea Ranch Games2 years ago
@John
If you hire an older worker at the expense of a younger worker due to age then that creates an issue for the whole company.
You left out the "more experienced" part. If you hire someone just because they "fit in" and not the best candidate for the job, you're hurting your company. And if that person has a fear of hiring someone older than themselves, you'll be missing out on a lot of great talent.
If you hire an older worker at the expense of a younger worker due to age then that creates an issue for the whole company.
You left out the "more experienced" part again.
The problem... is the fact there isn't enough older workers going for the jobs...
Several people here (with experience) have stated that they are applying for jobs within the industry. I know several of my former co-workers who can not even get interviews for positions that they have been doing for many years.
This is due to the hire and fire and not valuing experience (not age) culture that seems to be the major endemic problem of the games industry and frankly modern society in general but that's the culture we live and just have to accept it.
There is no law that says you/we have to operate your/our business(es) this way.
We can change this way of thinking if we want to.
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@Gary

I left it out because you are linking age and experience. I said which you quoted that the problem was that experience wasn't valued however I put (not age) in brackets to clarify what I meant.

It definitely hurts companies in the long run to not value experience so I wouldn't run my business like this however I'm also not moving half way across the globe every 2 years whenever tax breaks run out and new ones become available.
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Gary LaRochelle Digital Artist / UI/UX Designer / Game Designer, Flea Ranch Games2 years ago
@John

Agreed. You can have experience without age. But with age (while still working in the industry) you gain experience. And an experienced applicant shouldn't be overlooked just because they are over a certain age.
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David Mullich Game Production Instructor, Los Angeles Film School2 years ago
David, I suggest you look into the fallacy of relative privation.
Actually, I almost succumbed to this fallacy. The topic of ageism came to my attention just as #GamerGate was beginning, and I was at first hesitant to look into ageism, thinking, "but this is NOTHING compared to what women are experiencing in the game industry." Eventually I realized that I shouldn't ignore ageism just because there are other types of discrimination that are arguably more pressing at this time.
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Nick McCrea Gentleman, Pocket Starship2 years ago
Just to be clear, my comment was addressed to the commenter immediately above me, not yourself, just in case the use of 'David' confused... :)

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Nick McCrea on 16th March 2015 5:07pm

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David Mullich Game Production Instructor, Los Angeles Film School2 years ago
The problem is you were told by the people who went for an interview, and not the interviewer themselves. They won't know the real reason they weren't hired if it wasn't the one they were given, and maybe were a little prejudiced themselves since they took notice of how young the interviewer was.
In at least one instance, the feedback I've received by interviewers was pretty blatant: "The people who work here are all young and energetic." This statement, I was told by one HR professional, is a direct violation of existing discrimination laws.

Some of the people who have written to me in response to my Gamasutra article about the topic a few months ago told me that ageism is definitely practiced in their company.

So as I explained in my GDC talk, while I was at first hesitant to explore this topic, the more stories I heard from other people in the industry, the more I became convinced that it is, at the very least, a worthy topic of discussion.
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@ Gary
Agreed. You can have experience without age. But with age (while still working in the industry) you gain experience. And an experienced applicant shouldn't be overlooked just because they are over a certain age.
Not necessarily. Simply being "in the industry" doesn't gain you "relevant" experience. The experience might not be easily transferable. It's perhaps not as much of an issue for management but for coders, animators, designers and artists it's a huge issue.

I'm not saying that those people can't be retrained but that takes time and money. Even Nintendo had to admit that moving from SD to HD graphics required a lot more work than they expected and I suspect that a part of that was retraining their staff. Ultimately the way they run their business is the right way and you can see the results but unfortunately it's not the way it's done everywhere which brings me back to my original point.
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