Thursday, March 30, 2006

Why Entry Level Gaming Industry Jobs Aren't Wise in Southern California

I love playing games. All kinds of games. Boardgames, roleplaying games, computer games, you name it. If I had infinite time and no responsibilities, I would become a professional game player. Not a professional game "winner," more likely a professional game loser, but I would have a great time.

I also like to tinker with game rules and game master a Savage Worlds or D&D 3.5 game every now and again. So naturally, I have grandiose dreams of becoming a hugely successful, and lavishly wealthy, game designer like Matt Forbeck or Chris Pramas.

This is why I like to look to see when new entry level jobs are available in the gaming industry, especially from companies I like. One such company, Fantasy Flight Games, is apparently growing at a good pace given that they seem to be continually on the lookout for new employees. This is amazing, especially given the current soft-ness of the gaming marketplace. It is not so amazing when you look at the quality of Fantasy Flight's games, which are very high indeed. No fewer than three of the boardgames I play most frequently were produced by FFG.

But given the fact that according to USC's Lusk Center, "Rent increases of six to seven percent can be expected in Los Angeles where the average monthly rent at the end of last year was $1,416," I don't think I will be able to work for the $10/hr that FFG pays its entry level employees. To be fair, the job is in Minnesota where rent is much cheaper. It is also true a friend of mine is looking for an assistant in a similar (i.e. Marketing) position and is paying a similar wage (in Los Angeles). As an entry level job, the wages aren't bad, but they aren't going to support my family.

To be honest, the more I look at how much the people who work making the games I enjoy earn, the more it makes me want to win the lottery to start a high paying game company. The people who work in the industry are brave indeed, and the freelance ones are definitely living "without a net." Especially when you have a very successful product and never see a dime because your fulfillment house goes bankrupt. I can't even imagine how much elbow grease and work ethic it takes to be able to pay the bills, by selling new products, that it takes in that situation.

To put $1,416 a month in perspective, for those who don't live in SoCal. It's essentially a mortgage payment on a $250,000 home. Like those exist in SoCal!

What $250,000 gets you in Inglewood. One bedroom condos and Inglewood isn't known as the safest place in the world.

What $200,000 gets you in Minneapolis
. I don't know if the area is safe, but the picture sure looks nice.


Needless to say, if you want to be a game designer in SoCal, you better have a day job.
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