01 June 2011

Give credit where credit's due

If you're a console gamer, chances are you either know of or have even played Rockstar's latest game L.A. Noire. The publishers of the Grand Theft Auto series and Red Dead Redemption have added another excellent title to their stable. The reviews have been very positive, and from what I've seen the hype and praise are well deserved.

But there's a fly in the ointment. Over 80 people who were involved in the creation of L.A. Noire did not have their names credited in both the game's credits section and the game manual. My brother is one of those people. Like him, these 80+ developers, artists and programmers worked hard during the often punishing production schedule to create a game that has earned accolades and given pleasure to millions of gamers around the world. Their work is still visible in the game; they were left out of the credits for only one reason - they were no longer working at the developing studios when L.A. Noire was completed and shipped.

I've been told that this 'policy' is common in the relatively young games industry. The threat of being uncredited when a game ships is used both as a stick and a carrot to coerce staff to tough out the grueling 'crunch time' towards the end of a game's production. Even if a developer / artist / programmer has worked on a game like L.A. Noire for years and their handiwork is retained in the shipped game, if they have left the company for whatever reason before the game's release, they are omitted from the final credits.

This is blatantly unethical. By not crediting all developers both past and present, many of whom are working in the industry for the first time, Rockstar and their contracted production studios are needlessly compromising the future career prospects of former staff, since they cannot refer to the credits of landmark games like L.A. Noire as evidence of their contribution. For those who are just starting out in the industry, this can affect their work portfolio, with unfortunate results.

A campaign has been started to raise awareness of this issue. There's a website that aims to be the definitive credits list of all those who worked on L.A. Noire, whether they left before it was released or stayed until the end. If you believe in fairness, that credit should be given where it's due, then please show your support by 'liking' the L.A. Noire Credits Facebook page. Your support is essential if we are to set a precedent of crediting all the passionate, talented people who make the games we play and love, and thereby change a pernicious aspect of the games industry. Thank you.


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