Ron Gilbert on Episodic Gaming and the Film Industry

Illustration for article titled Ron Gilbert on Episodic Gaming and the Film Industry

Ron Gilbert is probably best known for his work at LucasArts, where he worked on such favorites as Maniac Mansion, The Secret of Monkey Island, and Day Of The Tentacle. Most recently, he's worked on Penny Arcade Adventures and has a forthcoming title called DeathSpank. Gamasutra sat down for a somewhat lengthy interview, discussing the episodic model, working within the current industry framework, and moving outside the current studio framework into a more 'Hollywood' type model. On this aspect (shifting to a more 'team' based approach where people come together to work on specific projects), he's got this to say:

I think that it will [shift into a Hollywood-type model]. And I think that, ultimately, it has to. And I think we will shift to that model, but I think that there are a couple of things that have to happen before we really shift to that. One is that I think technology has to settle down a little bit. I think technology is moving forward really rapidly, and part of what a lot of teams do is exploring new technology, and I think that's kind of hard to do with an ad hoc thing.

I think the other thing that's going to have to happen - and this is a really big one - is we're going to have to become unionized. Because I don't think that you're going to be able to grab all of these freelance people when you need them if there isn't some kind of a union structure that's over the top of them. You can't really have a bunch of animators just floating around from job to job with nothing in between.

So I think there's going to have to be a lot more structure, and I think that's going to have to come in the form of unions - which, you know, I don't know that I really agree with that; I think unions bring a lot of bad things to gaming, but I think they're going to be necessary for us to move into that Hollywood model.


Interesting interview with a lot of content; worth plowing through if you're in the mood for some interesting reading.

Spanking Death: Ron Gilbert Goes Episodic... And Loves It [Gamasutra]



Once again, as soon as anything vaguely political is mentioned on the site, the right-wingers are the first ones there to bitch.

Those of you who hate unions should consider the fate of all the workers at Lucasarts who were laid off as soon as they finished a high-profile game for the company. How many times have you seen a new property and said, "I'll take a chance on this because it's from the same team who did another game I liked"?

With the new model, "teams" no longer have any real meaning. If everyone's freelance, nobody really has to worry about the quality of their games or their company's reputation. Historically these have been the ONLY way to get consistently good games. Companies with lots of turnover rarely produce high-quality games.

Obviously nobody needs a union if all companies treat workers well, but many in the industry have recently stopped doing so. The movie and television industries have both been unionized pretty much throughout, and it hasn't hurt the quality of the output at all. (The public's horrible taste and desire for sequels has.)

Finally, those of you who are still in high school and haven't ever actually had a real job (union or not) should remember: unions are the folks who brought you the weekend.