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> Benefits of Being a Game Contractor

Benefits of Being a Game Contractor

Date Posted Nov 19, 2008  Default   Viewed 3310 Times       ID 2097
Ascendi  - Ascendi
The video game industry has taken a firm and lasting step forward as one of the biggest and most profitable industries in the world, in many ways surpassing that of the film industry. This has led to a great demand for and even greater supply of artists and developers desiring to express their creativity through the digital world. Due to this recent development, major game development studios lately have begun switching gears in the hiring process, recruiting more and more developers labeled as “Game Contractors”, or “Game Consultants”. Similarly on the flip side, artists, designers, and programmers have also been defining themselves by these labels, seeing the vast benefits that result in such a fast-paced and volatile industry.

But what is a game contractor, and more importantly, exactly how do you benefit from it versus being a fulltime employee? By definition, a contractor is a person who “contracts with another to do something for him, but who is not controlled by the other” (Clarkson, West’s Business Law, 637). While this definition does not hold entirely true in the gaming industry, as studios still demand control over the work performed, many are indeed moving towards hiring contractors. The main benefits in being a contractor come in the areas of financial benefits, flexibility, and increased marketability.

It is no secret that the game industry is volatile in terms of developer resource management. Unfortunately, it is the nature of business as the industry is a project-focused industry much like the film industry. For this reason, many choose to go the route as a game contractor, as the benefits are truly appealing:

• Higher Pay: Game contractors generally get paid by the hour, and for the most part, are paid more per hour than employees. In addition to a higher hourly rate, contractors are usually paid for overtime. Yes, we said overtime. There has been many issues in the past with OT in the game industry, however, many companies have learned from their mistakes and are now complying with HR labor laws. Many studios offer very generous overtime pay for those willing to put in the extra hours. With multiple deadlines, completion dates, and release dates, all major studios end up periodically bending over backwards trying to release their next title on time. In times like these, they encourage all developers to put in as many hours as possible. This is something you can reap quite a bit from, as compared to a full-time employee who gets no overtime pay at all.

• Knowledge through Variation: The more projects you work on, the more knowledge you gain from each. While working on each subsequent project, you work with new talented people, new tools and new processes, thus gaining new knowledge and skills each step of the way. As your knowledge and expertise increase, so does your marketability and pay rate. Imagine, in 1 year, going from an xBox360 title, then on to a multi-platform title (PS3 and Wii), and ending the year working on an iPhone mobile game. By the end of the year, you are a wanted developer by multiple studios working on various projects. You now have multiple intriguing options to choose from.

• Flexibility: In a sense, you get to be your own boss. You are able to decide which projects interest you and which you would like to work on. You are not stuck developing whatever the next project the studio just happens to land. Barbie: Horseland Adventures is not exactly most developer’s ideal project.

• Tax Benefits: As a game contractor, you enjoy the luxury of little to no federal or state tax withholding when you receive your paycheck. This benefits both you and the company, as usually along with a full-timer comes Social Security withholding and unemployment taxes. Ultimately, you end up receiving more in your paycheck than the full-timer does due to the absence of fees and taxes tacked on to a normal paycheck. Not only can you keep your earnings much longer than a full-time employee, usually until taxes are due, you can also reduce your income tax with deductions from any expenses incurred while performing your job.
With so many advantages to hiring and becoming a game contractor in this industry, it is no wonder why many gaming studios are taking a great liking to recruiting on a contractual basis. Not only is it conducive to the development cycles of products within the gaming industry, but it also reaps many benefits both to the employer and the contractor.

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