Jason Rubin Turns Bitter


Jason Rubin is somewhat of a legend in the world of game developers. He founded the ridiculously successful Naughty Dog studios, which is now riding high on the success of Uncharted 2, and he was a key figure behind many beloved games such as the Crash Bandicoot series, the Jak series, and my all time favorite game of my childhood, Keef the Thief.

If you watch him speak on the last two episodes of the Bonus Round, it’s disappointing to see how completely burned out and bitter he has become.

His two main points (best summed on his blog):

  • Even the most talented and skilled developers aren’t able to get creative independence and large industry backed funding.
  • This results in the industry being in grave danger and leading towards fewer quality games and less innovation.

His second point is ridiculous. The level of quality, and innovation we are seeing in the industry has been amazing in the past few years and has been heading up.

His first point sounds like typical mid-career griping. It’s not untrue, but it’s a pessimistic perspective.

Lessons to Take Away

  • Do you need a stable, predictable career path to climb? Academia and government related fields such as education and medicine are far better choices if that’s what you want. In technology careers, the rules often seem to change and many experienced, skilled, good workers sometimes feel like they get tricked and thrown down the ladder, and get burned out.
  • Do you need creative independence in your career? Generally, there is always a struggle between what you want to do at a personal or intellectual level, and what the world wants from you. This struggle usually never disappears, it’s a fact of life.
  • Compare Jason Rubin with his co-panelist Michael Pachter for a minute. The developers of the world work harder and get burned more, but in many ways they are drowned in the obscure details of their work. The analysts have comparatively easier careers, but they see the world from a broader perspective, and as a result, the world is more interested in what they have to say.
  • Don’t give in to bitterness. In some situations, the urge to become bitter is overwhelming. Don’t do it. It only makes things worse. Find a positive angle to view your situation, and find a constructive path to follow for the future.

Written by: Darrin - Contributing Editor


  1. #1 by Mike on February 27th, 2010

    He came off as a total douce on Bonus Round. Is he mad that Naughty Dog has fared so well since he left? Is this what Jaffe will become with God of War games turning out great even without his involvement?

    Sad times.

  2. #2 by Jason Rubin on February 28th, 2010

    Darrin,

    For you to take bitterness away from what I said on the bonus round is completely unjustified. The topic of the Panel, chosen by the show creators and not me, was “What is wrong with the Industry?” That is also the question we were answering. Certainly, we were not there to say that everything is great!

    That said, I still made sure to make a point in Section 1 of the panel that video games are reaching a broader audience and entertaining people in ways it never has before. I made specific mention of Call of Duty and its success at entertaining.

    I am not bitter, and I am incredibly proud of Naughty Dog’s achievements, and have said so on multiple occasions, including in my blog and in the panel.

    I am also optimistic about the industry’s future, and believe that the coming change to digital distribution and alternate pricing models (which do not necessarily mean higher prices) will create another wave of industry expansion and gamer enjoyment similar to that experienced in the cartridge to CD change of ’93/’94.

    You might disagree with my points, it is your right, and I may indeed be wrong, but to turn it into a character attack claiming that I am bitter is not the way to make that point.

    Jason Rubin
    http://www.jasonrubin.com

  3. #3 by Royalty32 on February 28th, 2010

    Cool its the real Jason Rubin from the bonus round. Hey gotta question for ya. do u think God of War 3 will be the best game of 2010, not including sales. i just dont see sales as it not being a success.

  4. #4 by Darrin on February 28th, 2010 [ 17143 Points ]

    If that is indeed the real Jason Rubin, I’m surprised and starstruck that you read and commented on this site.

    People like Jason Rubin and Andy Gavin are celebrity devs behind some of the favorite games I grew up playing. I’m a huge, huge, long time fan.

    But clearly, from the infamous, controversial D.I.C.E speech, exiting game development (you really haven’t made anything since leaving Naughty Dog), and your comments on the Bonus Round show and on your blog, it’s just obvious that you are bitter about the career prospects for developers. I’m not launching a character attack, I’m just commenting on the obvious as a fan.

    I’ve been a programmer (not in games) for 15 years, and I know a lot about the downsides of trying to have a career in video games.

    Nevertheless, I’m still a huge fan, and will pre-order almost anything you put your name on (except the rumored port of Snood :) )


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