There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one's safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn't, but if he were sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn't have to; but if he didn't want to he was sane and had to. (Catch 22, Joseph Heller)
It’s an age old situation and one that I’ve encountered before. Actors face the same thing*: to work you have to have an equity card. To get an equity card you have to be able to demonstrate ‘2 years’ of work. This sort of conundrum used to lead to actors often having to work in Theatre in Education tours or delivering panto at old people’s homes just so that they could get a job (I should stress that there’s nothing wrong with either of these things, it’s just not necessarily where said actor saw their career!).
So here I am, and I’ve worked damn hard for the last year on an MA, and for the last 8 years as a production manager. I look at a lot of skill-sets listed for producer jobs and it does rather feel like they could have been written for me. All bar one crucial line: “Requires minimum 2-years experience working as a producer on a game” (or similar)
The worst thing is I sort of agree! With game budgets being what they are, often in the many hundreds of thousands of pounds bracket, why would you want to chance someone who hasn’t worked in the industry before. Why would you want to train someone up to do the job. That does lead to the question: “Where do you new producers come from?” and I have been told all sorts of things. The message I came off the course with was that QA was not the route into games work. It was an opinion held very strongly by lots of people too – the message went something like this: “What we want in our studios is a really good QA team, so if you work really hard and are really good at QA… I’ll want you to stay in our QA team.” Again – I really understand this mentality. I am genuinely not bitter. In a way it’s making me want it more, and I’m up for the fight, as yet I’m not seeing the end game, but I’m ready to fly some crazy missions!
So there we are: Catch 22, it makes sense, darn it.
*This has changed a lot now, not least because a lot less people are members of a trade union any more.