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Sean K Reynolds on working at Paizo (and other companies)


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MGibster

Legend
Reynolds said:
When they got us better coverage, they made sure to note that in our annual review and summary of compensation (“Your salary is $38k, but we’re also providing you with a health insurance policy that costs us $10k, so that’s like your total compensation is $48k”).

This is known as total compensation. It's the combination of your base salary along with whatever benefits you might receive including paid vacations, health insurance, etc., etc. Generally speaking, you don't win many people over by touting the total compensation package as most employees are more interested in what affects their bottom line. Namely their salary. Having good insurance is great, but most people are more concerned with their base salary.

And after reading that article, once again I realize why so many people only dabble when it comes to working on games. That's not even getting into issues of harassment.
 



TheSword

Legend
Interesting, and quite sad. I can’t help thinking the rot starts at the top. The chewing someone out and repeating the next day with a Dalek filter, or raising concerns in writing and a senior manager reading it on the shop floor.

I can say without doubt, if I did either of those two things, I would be fired for gross misconduct. The first for bullying and harassment, the second for harassment/bullying or possibly a breach of trust and confidence.

The apple has fallen very far from the tree.

On the flip side. It was good to hear Sean enjoyed his year back at WOC and didn’t seem the same toxic culture there.
 




Tyler Do'Urden

Soap Maker
Sad to hear this about Paizo. I couldn't imagine accepting a $38k salary in the Seattle area even in the late 2000s... when I was trying to find a job there in 2007 before I moved overseas I was targeting $50k bare minimum. How can anybody live on that?

Though there's one positive takeaway from this - Monte Cook's reputation as a mensch remains unspoiled. Glad to know there are some people in the industry who aren't jerks.
 


Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
These stories always make me sad. Like so many of us, when I was younger I would have killed to be part of a company that designed RPGs. I probably could have done a decent job at it. But there is no way I'd ever do it now. Salary is a big part, but I'd be willing to make less to do a job I love. But work environments like that make it no fun, and I suspect it would ruin me of the hobby I loved. I could see myself very much going the way of Trampier.

And that's probably the biggest reason I won't even attempt to look for work at a bigger company. I don't want to risk my love for the hobby. I'd much rather do what I'm doing now, spending my own money to create my own products, even if that never gets my name in the credits on a best selling product, and never puts me as part of the "circle" of RPG designers, or if I spend more money than I make. Because I still retain my love for the hobby.

As someone who has been in a leadership position on many levels for the past 25 years, it sounds like Erik really needs to take management courses and take them to heart. Part of me wonders if the reason we see so much of this in our hobby is because our hobby was filled with socially awkward people, and now many of those socially awkward people are now in charge of others, and simply don't know how to effectively communicate. Sure sounds like Erik has major communication deficiencies.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
These stories always make me sad. Like so many of us, when I was younger I would have killed to be part of a company that designed RPGs. I probably could have done a decent job at it. But there is no way I'd ever do it now. Salary is a big part, but I'd be willing to make less to do a job I love. But work environments like that make it no fun, and I suspect it would ruin me of the hobby I loved. I could see myself very much going the way of Trampier.

And that's probably the biggest reason I won't even attempt to look for work at a bigger company. I don't want to risk my love for the hobby. I'd much rather do what I'm doing now, spending my own money to create my own products, even if that never gets my name in the credits on a best selling product, and never puts me as part of the "circle" of RPG designers, or if I spend more money than I make. Because I still retain my love for the hobby.

As someone who has been in a leadership position on many levels for the past 25 years, it sounds like Erik really needs to take management courses and take them to heart. Part of me wonders if the reason we see so much of this in our hobby is because our hobby was filled with socially awkward people, and now many of those socially awkward people are now in charge of others, and simply don't know how to effectively communicate. Sure sounds like Erik has major communication deficiencies.
Peter Principle at work, maybe? Promote a good editor into a position he is not prepared for adequately, provide no training or support.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
Peter Principle at work, maybe? Promote a good editor into a position he is not prepared for adequately, provide no training or support.
I will say, after hearing these types of stories over and over again, part me wants to reach out and act as a consultant on how to manage your people. That is something I am very good at and have a lot of experience, if I don't say so myself (at the risk of sounding arrogant, but my track record in this regard has been very good. And yes, my communication style in person and in the workplace is much more diplomatic than I have on a forum lol).

Then I realize that poor managers and leaders generally don't think they are poor, and don't think they'd need improvement, let alone paying for a consultant.

One thing I won't understand is that RPG design is a creative process, and it's really hard to get someone to be really creative when they are stressed and/or feel like they are being treated unfairly, and yet so many companies treat contributors as if they were on a production line. Treating people like that means they won't be as vested into the work as they could be. Which in turn only hurts your product. It makes no sense, if you truly want to put out the best quality product you can. It's almost like there is no long term strategic thinking going on there.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
One thing I won't understand is that RPG design is a creative process, and it's really hard to get someone to be really creative when they are stressed and/or feel like they are being treated unfairly, and yet so many companies treat contributors as if they were on a production line.

Well, people on a production line don't produce well if they are stressed and/or feel like they are being treated unfairly either. Broadly speaking, what work you are doing doesn't matter - stressed-out people don't work as well as happy people.

And yeah, it sounds like their management team needs some serious training. But, as you say, very few folks will admit that they are not good at their jobs, and hire consultants for themselves. They always decide the problem is somewhere else, because that's cognitively easier to do.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
Well, people on a production line don't produce well if they are stressed and/or feel like they are being treated unfairly either. Broadly speaking, what work you are doing doesn't matter - stressed-out people don't work as well as happy people.
Well yes, of course. I was more trying to say that production line focuses on quantity where creativeness doesn't matter. In fact, production line relies on uniformity and consistency, rather than creativity. So it's even more backwards to not only make your team stressed and feeling like they are being treated unfairly, but also to treat them like a production line, as that would have an even greater negative impact towards the investment from your employees to put out a creative product.

I wasn't trying to say production line workers don't have an impact if they are treated unfairly, but to say that treating someone unfairly and also like they were a production line worker for a product that relies on creativity seems double backwards to me.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
It makes no sense, if you truly want to put out the best quality product you can. It's almost like there is no long term strategic thinking going on there.

Well, it makes sense.... if you accept that these people are in management roles, but they don't educate themselves on the state of the art in management.

They sound like they absorbed some of the really bad, Ebenezer Scrooge-esque management practices of the 80s, and more recent game software companies, and just figured that's the way things should be done - they sound like they have only old, anecdotal understanding of the impacts of various management techniques, instead of modern, data-driven understanding.

Admittedly, those old practices make the manager feel big and strong, and often allow them to dodge accountability, so it is understandable why folks hold on to them. But they lead to a struggle to make great products.

They need a good recounting of Kaizen, the Toyota Way, or somesuch. Maybe a review of Project Aristotle - I have a slide deck about that around here somewhere, even.
 
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Staffan

Legend
Interesting, and quite sad. I can’t help thinking the rot starts at the top. The chewing someone out and repeating the next day with a Dalek filter, or raising concerns in writing and a senior manager reading it on the shop floor.
The Dalek thing rises to levels of meanness that's like what you'd see on a comedy trying to portray the bad boss as being ridiculously over the top mean.
 


Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
Well, it makes sense.... if you accept that these people are in management roles, but they don't educate themselves on the state of the art in management.

They sound like they absorbed some of the really bad, Ebenezer Scrooge-esque management practices of the 80s, and more recent game software companies, and just figured that's the way things should be done - they sound like they have only old, anecdotal understanding of the impacts of various management techniques, instead of modern, data-driven understanding.

Admittedly, those old practices make the manager feel big and strong, and often allow them to dodge accountability, so it is understandable why folks hold on to them. But they lead to a struggle to make great products.

They need a good recounting of Kaizen, the Toyota Way, or somesuch. Maybe a review of Project Aristotle - I have a slide deck about that around here somewhere, even.
They don't even need that. Just something basic, like leadership fundamentals, or strengthfinders, or any two hour long seminar on effective leadership fundamentals. Kaizen or 6 Sigma, or similar is way down the road for these folks. They need the basics first.
 


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