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Cover image for Famous Company <> Career Happiness

Famous Company <> Career Happiness

ronsoak profile image ronsoak Updated on ・3 min read

It's not widely known that Poland, particularly Warsaw, is a powerhouse of Video Game Development.
It all started back with the early PC games, with some small studios making a name for themselves translating major international titles like Baldurs Gate.
Fast forward to now and we have CD Projekt Red, a AAA Polish video game development company worth over one billion dollars.

For many in the area wanting to get into video game development, CD Projekt Red is the company to aim for.
It's famous, outputs high caliber work, and it's worth a lot of money, so surely it's a great place to work right?

Well...... Maybe.

The companies Glassdoor profile is pretty bleak (Source), there are reports that company is a hot bed of crunch culture, blame culture, and bullying.

The companies social media accounts and the social media of their parent company GOG Games (yes them) have in the recent year shown their hand at possibly being propagators of Gamergate and anti-LGBTQIA+ culture.

And an ex-employee credited the boom in Warsaw based Indie game studios due to the amount of 'refugees' fleeing the company.

Now granted it's probably not as clean cut as that. There are clearly some people who love working at CD Projekt Red and have done so for many years.

We all know that crunch culture, blame culture and workplace bullying can be something that is down to some key individuals who once removed change everything.

But I couldn't help but use them as an example.

When we talk career progression it's not just about the money, a company's prestige can also play a big part of it.
People fall over themselves to get jobs in companies who are widely known, whether it be something world famous like Microsoft or Google or locally famous like CD Projekt Red its a goal we can set ourselves that validates our worth and we would be lying if we also didn't use it to laud over others.

But does it track?

I would argue no... but with some caveats.

Everyone is different, so if you get two people doing the same role there isn't a guarantee that the same thing / setting / management style makes them happy.

So to say that Famous Company = Career Happiness for everyone isn't right.

There are many benefits to working at a famous company. Take Microsoft for example, they have the resources to expose you to a lot of different technologies at scale and it will look good on your CV - to name a few benefits.

However this doesn't mean the rest of Microsoft or that every department is up to snuff, which is a fallacy I want everyone to get into the habit of challenging.

For the companies who are not Microsoft, a company with decades of experience and success, this equation gets more complicated.

Just because a company is worth a lot and is world famous doesn't mean they have their shit together.

Some companies fail upwards.

Some companies are world famous, worth millions, and are expanding at a rapid pace, but behind the scenes it's flaming garbage truck stuck in reverse.

And it doesn't necessarily mean they will fail outright and be bankrupt in a month.

Companies like this can carry on for a long time, always just failing upwards enough to stay competitive churning through human capital, building tech debt, loosing knowledge and surviving outage to outage but never taking a hit on the stock market.

Who knows maybe their competition are just as broken which is why they haven't been sunk.

Do not, in your drive to grow your career, overlook a non-world-famous company believing they won't bring you happiness.

Who knows your dream job could be at some small company because actually small companies work best for you. Or maybe a public agency or charity gives you what you were missing all along.

Feel free to aim for whatever company you want to, but don't be surprised if it doesn't work for you.

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ronsoak

@ronsoak

Data Analysis Team Lead at Xero in Wellington NZ. Dev tag moderator and passionate about space! All views expressed here are my own.

Discussion

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Across the entirety of the software development industry, I've heard the most horror stories from the game development.

Apparently, lots of developers like games. And lots of developers would like to part of game development. So there is a very high supply of developers for a rather limited number of seats.

A friend and former co-workers of mine went to a game development company, and I heard plenty of first-hand accounts of his experiences. He's been doing it for 18 years, and is still at it.

Anyway...

For me "career happiness" means, in order, #1) a good boss, #2) a healthy project (not a death march project, nor a doomed project), #3) good co-workers, #4) an ethical company, #5) work-life balance.

Overall, I consider myself very fortunate, since I've mostly been on the "happy" side of the equation.

 

Video game dev is a disaster. In the past year alone we have heard about CD Projekt red, rockstar crunching their employees, BioWare just expecting things to go right and telltale shutting overnight. It’s an industry that could do so much better

 

I would personally add #6) Opportunities for growth and learning

My current job ticks all the boxes you listed above but I've been finding myself not being too satisfied with it, precisely because I feel like my skills have plateaued in the past several months

A good job respects you as an individual while still keeping you challenged and engaged enough to find meaning in it I suppose

 

Completely agree with you. However sometimes the career path depends a lot on your capacities at a certain moment. And of course, we must not think of companies as very long-term jobs where to retire. This doesn't exist anymore.
So I think that the best advice is not to be afraid of change and happiness pursuit.

 

I think sometimes a larger company can have a toxic environment and a large staff turnover. The silver lining is this means new people come in often, and sometimes (just sometimes) the environment gets better with the fresh people setting a new culture. Takes time though.