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Striking Writers May Work on Games

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the fewer-hackneyed-cliches-sounds-like-a-good-thing dept.

Games 124

The ongoing Writer's Guild strike may soon impact even the games industry. While most of the copy writers working on games are not a part of the guild, via Eurogamer comes a Variety article about a possible Hollywood writer's migration to other media. "While the WGA has made no secret that it would like to eventually cover vidgame writing, it hasn't pushed the issue yet and is allowing members to work on games during the strike. 'It has been an interesting shift," says one tenpercenter who focuses on vidgames. "The literary agents are now saying, 'Why don't we get our clients over there during the strike?' even though in the past they thought the money wasn't good enough or the work is too demanding.'"

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Is this good or bad? (5, Interesting)

644bd346996 (1012333) | more than 6 years ago | (#21494169)

I'm not sure whether I should rejoice that more games will be getting competent writers, or weep that gaming is going to be degraded to sitcom quality.

Re:Is this good or bad? (4, Funny)

everphilski (877346) | more than 6 years ago | (#21494189)

That's what she said.

Re:Is this good or bad? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21494575)

Oh no you di'n't!

Re:Is this good or bad? (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 6 years ago | (#21498247)

Come again?

Re:Is this good or bad? (1)

Deltaspectre (796409) | more than 6 years ago | (#21494217)

These will be the people that write the storyline behind The Sims 3.

At least they won't work on The Sims The Movie (4, Insightful)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 6 years ago | (#21494303)

I am not making this up, there really seems to a The Sims movie in the works... If hollywood can screw up game movies with single paragraph plots, what the hell will they do with a game that HAS NO PLOT?

Re:At least they won't work on The Sims The Movie (2, Insightful)

lluBdeR (466879) | more than 6 years ago | (#21494689)

  1. Waste an assload of money every step of the way to make sure it has an 8 or 9 digit budget
  2. Make sure news about the latter half of point 1 is leaked
  3. Throw a bunch of big names into it so people "in the know" will go see it even though it's a piece of crap
  4. Give out very nice, very expensive (see point #1) gift bags at the premiere so it gets good review
  5. Plan sequels, hire Saw production team as they seem adept at getting people to watch the same movie over and over again
Wait, that sounds alarmingly like how they work anyways...

Re:At least they won't work on The Sims The Movie (1)

Xtravar (725372) | more than 6 years ago | (#21495465)

Waste an assload of money every step of the way to make sure it has an 8 or 9 digit budget
They will make up the revenue by selling "The Sims 2: The Sims Movie Expansion Pack", which will contain approximately one new 'novel' item and about 100 of the objects you already have but in different colors. Perhaps they will include an Angelina Jolie model/skin. Then you can make her have lesbian sex with the neighbors. SIGN ME UP!!!

Re:At least they won't work on The Sims The Movie (2, Funny)

Shinmizu (725298) | more than 6 years ago | (#21494887)

They will spend millions to hire the big name voice actors, and then spend a few more millions to give them all lessons in Simlish.

I have a snippet of the script, if you're interested...

Angelina Jolie: Mwa hama mu mu gunya! Do do do do. Manna manna.

So touching. *weeps*

Re:At least they won't work on The Sims The Movie (1)

garett_spencley (193892) | more than 6 years ago | (#21499581)

I kind of suspect that every single person who hears this news reacts the same way, as I just did as well.

I can even imagine the screen writer trying to pitch it to the various production companies only to be told "WTF?!?"

To which he replies:

"Ok ok ok ... I know it sounds stupid at first ... but hear me out...

Pleasantview is one of the most delightful neighbourhoods to live in, everybody is happy, the grass is always green, children are always well-mannered. But newcomer Andie starts to uncover the 'real' pleasantview, for not only are Pleasantville full of cheating, lying, decieving, secret-ridden people like the Goths, Don Lothario and the struggling Newbies, but they are being ruled by a greater power. Andie is terrified to discover they are stuck in a video game being played by millions universally. ...

A young woman, Mary Waldeck who is a budding reporter,moves to Pleasantview too. She soon realizes to her horror that everyone in pleasantview is being subjected to a great new live human experiment, and have had their brains implanted with the idea that they're actually in a universally popular video game, and that their names even are the names of the people from the game itself. All except for Andie who becomes Mary's poor insane accomplice driven out of his mind from what the scientists of the world had been doing to him, but also determined to save himself and the other citizens of Pleasantview."

Plot synopsis taken from IMDB [imdb.com]

It actually sounds kind of intriguing. Though if past video games turned movies are any indication it will blow.

Re:Is this good or bad? (2, Insightful)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 6 years ago | (#21494227)

Worse than sitcoms.

There are soap opera writers in that crowd, aren't there?

Re:Is this good or bad? (4, Interesting)

hudsonhawk (148194) | more than 6 years ago | (#21494387)

Soap opera writers have been breaking away from the union [variety.com] and crossing the picket line.

The union's fight is not their fight - soap operas don't sell DVD's or get watched online.

Re:Is this good or bad? (1)

CRiyl (1086791) | more than 6 years ago | (#21494511)

Soaps not watched online? Not [cbs.com] quite [cbs.com] if it's on [cbs.com] CBS [cbs.com] . From reading the article linked above, the issue appears to be the existence of the genre at stake.

Re:Is this good or bad? (1)

pwnies (1034518) | more than 6 years ago | (#21496003)

Snake: Otacon, I have something I have to tell you before I face metal gear. I'm... your father.
Yea this could get very bad.

Re:Is this good or bad? (1)

Xaivius (1038252) | more than 6 years ago | (#21499347)

wait... how is that different from the standard fair of MGS plots....

Re:Is this good or bad? (2, Insightful)

physicsboy500 (645835) | more than 6 years ago | (#21494629)

I'm not sure whether I should rejoice that more games will be getting competent writers, or weep that gaming is going to be degraded to sitcom quality.
Looking at some voice acting done even today, "sitcom quality" may very well still be a step up.

*cough* Resident Evil Outbreak *cough*

Re:Is this good or bad? (2, Insightful)

Seumas (6865) | more than 6 years ago | (#21494877)

The reason I have no sympathy for striking writers (aside from the fact that I don't think BOOK authors have unions and I don't want to hear a bunch of starving artists cry about being starving artists while the rest of us have REAL jobs for a living) is that there are very few writers who deserve to have their jobs. Much less negotiate stronger contracts.

Line them all up Pink Floyd style and let's have all of them shot.

Re:Is this good or bad? (1)

king-manic (409855) | more than 6 years ago | (#21495819)

The reason I have no sympathy for striking writers (aside from the fact that I don't think BOOK authors have unions and I don't want to hear a bunch of starving artists cry about being starving artists while the rest of us have REAL jobs for a living) is that there are very few writers who deserve to have their jobs. Much less negotiate stronger contracts.

Line them all up Pink Floyd style and let's have all of them shot.
I sort of agree most Hollywood stuff is dreck but writers are the lowest on the Hollywood totem. Good ones can make extremely good entertainment (Canon O'Brian penned arguably the best Simpson's episodes. After he left it's been down hill.) Having a union evens out the wages so it's not multi-millions for popular ones and pittance for others. It enables people who can tell stories to be employed. I personally think that no matter what you do around 80% or more of everything is crap. So by enabling more people to make a living as a writer it helps promote a larger population of good writers.

Re:Is this good or bad? (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#21496491)

Why not have writers paid what their work is worth, rather than paying people when their work is terrible. I think this promotes the wrong thing. If your writing is really good and ends up creating a popular show, then you should get paid a lot. However, if your writing sucks, and the people don't watch your show, you should get paid less. Maybe if writers got paid based on the value of their work, there would be less crappy writers. If you know you are a crappy writer, but that you are being paid well for it anyway, then you might as well keep on producing bad work. However, if you don't get paid well, you either learn how to write well, or stop writing, and do something more profitable with your time. All it does it promote a larger population of writers, not a larger population of good writers. It would be like paying a programmer a good wage, even when the code they produce is terrible.

Re:Is this good or bad? (2, Insightful)

Orange Crush (934731) | more than 6 years ago | (#21497433)

If your writing is really good and ends up creating a popular show, then you should get paid a lot. However, if your writing sucks, and the people don't watch your show, you should get paid less.

It already works that way. If you write bad shows/movies that don't get watched, the show gets canceled and you're out of a job. Shows that don't get watched don't get rerun and don't sell DVDs, so no residuals either. And as reputation-based as the entertainment industry is, if you have a habit writing flops, you'll soon be both out of a job and unable to get hired on a new one.

I fail to see how the guild promotes a large population of deadbeat writers. They work very hard, have next to no job security, and have to continuously apply for new work by submitting outlines and scripts which they may never get paid for having written at all except in the relatively rare case they're hired to write a specific pilot treatment or something.

I know several reasonably successful screenwriters and while each of them consider it their passion and a very fulfilling career, not one of them would call it a cush job. Add that a screenwriter is practically required to live in L.A. (not cheap!) and you'll understand why they all have to keep pretty hefty "rainy day" funds just to keep a roof over their heads.

Re:Is this good or bad? (1)

Seumas (6865) | more than 6 years ago | (#21496541)

I would disagree. Having a union seems to be a lot like having a teacher's union. The crappiest people are kept around and the best people are kept down to some degree by obligations to the crappier ones. Why should television writing be different than any other venture in the world? The people who are best at it should be rewarded the most. Those who suck should be forced to find a new line of work. And -- just like with the tech industry -- if there is a flood of interest from people wanting to work in your market, then you are going to suffer lower wages and less individual negotiation power. You shouldn't be able to band together with other lame people to forge some sort of falsely powerful Voltron of suck.

Re:Is this good or bad? (1)

heinousjay (683506) | more than 6 years ago | (#21496087)

Man, any improvement at all would be a step up for games. Hiring Jerry Springer's writers would improve 99.99% of games out there. There isn't another medium more hackneyed and lazy. Anyone who thinks the writing in games is good obviously hasn't read a book in their life.

Re:Is this good or bad? (2, Funny)

uncledrax (112438) | more than 6 years ago | (#21497503)

What? You don't want the "Everyone Loves Raymond" MMORPG?

What's WRONG WITH YOU!?

I wouldn't worry either way (2, Interesting)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 6 years ago | (#21498265)

The writers aren't likely to see any work on video game projects. The game industry is like most others in that you are generally paid for a job, not paid residuals. Also writing is a lesser part of a game than it is of a movie. In a movie, the whole plot has to be provided. In a game, the player themselves provides a lot of it, the game is more of a framework. Some kinds of games often need very little writing at all. Civ 4 would be a good example. There is technical writing in terms of documentation, but there is no story that needs to be written.

Also, since game companies already have a successful business model, they are quite likely to have a "take it to leave it" kind of attitude. The WGA can't "strike" against them since they aren't needed.

My guess is that most will find that game writing just won't give them the kind of pay scale they want, and probably won't end up taking a job.

Oh boy... (1)

Artaxs (1002024) | more than 6 years ago | (#21494211)

Does this mean that we're going to get "Reality Gaming"? Are we going to have that insulting canned laughter exported to games along with TV's awful hack writing? Can you imagine how terrible Portal would have been with a laugh-track?!?

Re:Oh boy... (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 6 years ago | (#21494265)

But without the canned laughter, how would you know where to laugh? They might actually have to make things funny.

Re:Oh boy... (1)

EveryNickIsTaken (1054794) | more than 6 years ago | (#21495403)

Does this mean that we're going to get "Reality Gaming"?
Actually, Reality TV is produced on the cheap with little (if any) writers. In fact, if the strike carries on, when the backlog of prime time episodes runs out sometime in January, expect to see a large number of reality shows hitting network TV for this very reason.

Other possibilities (1)

wagr (1070120) | more than 6 years ago | (#21496909)

Or, we'll get games based on movies or TV shows, instead of the other way around.

Imagine: a game where you sing into a microphone and get votes.

Imagine: a game where you use virtual tweezers to extract the funny bone from a virtual human while trying to date a virtual intern.

Imagine: a game where you have to shoot King Kong off skyscrapers.

Maybe we have these already and I'm just not much of a gamer or TV viewer. Ex. Karaoke.

Re:Oh boy... (1)

MarkAyen (726688) | more than 6 years ago | (#21497041)

Not only are many of today's "professionally" (i.e.union) written TV shows just godawful, but in the future we'll need to factor in the possibility of strikes affecting ship dates? IMO, it'd be for the best to keep the unions -- particularly traditional media writers' guilds -- far, far away from videogames. You'll get better results from print media authors anyways.

Nooooo! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21494253)

If this happen it will be terrible because we'll have terrible writer right terrible games.
How ever i don't think this will happen because most game studios have writer and because most game studios are small.

Great... just what I needed. (2, Funny)

RyanFenton (230700) | more than 6 years ago | (#21494301)

Games that require laugh tracks.

Honestly though, most of my favorite works in gaming have involved professional writers really taking the time to craft a great work of fiction in a game (especially Planescape: Torment.)

Ryan Fenton

consider some of the top selling games... (3, Insightful)

wakim1618 (579135) | more than 6 years ago | (#21494395)

such as world of warcraft or the madden football sequels or civilization. How much value could a hollywood writer add to the storyline?

Or consider games such as halo 3, crysis or the grand theft auto series where the storyline is important. But it is the design of the game that is ultimately more important and provides a framework within which the writers work. In other words, the value-added of a hollywood writer in this case seems limited.

In each of the above examples, I see the involvement of sit-com and action-movie writers as a big negative. The story line in games can be silly at times ... but never as stupid or lame as in the vast majority of tv shows and movies out of hollywood.

Yes I can see you logic (1)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 6 years ago | (#21494491)

Games sure could use some great writers, perhaps we could talk to these Hollywood/tv writers and ask them if they know any, you never know, they might have bumped into them at some time.

Re:consider some of the top selling games... (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 6 years ago | (#21494601)

But the games industry doesn't have to rely on hacks at the moment. They can get the best talent for a song because there's an abundance of talent.

And while some games don't need a scriptwriter, there are a lot that would have benefitted from a bit of talent. Not all games are shooters or strategy games. RPGs are actually pretty popular, and require a lot of material.

Re:consider some of the top selling games... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21494603)

The story is important to Crysis? I didn't even know it had one. Maybe they are already working on games.

Re:consider some of the top selling games... (1)

kalirion (728907) | more than 6 years ago | (#21494693)

Or maybe you could consider a game that's not MMORPG or action? Single player RPGs and adventure game would especially benefit.

Re:consider some of the top selling games... (1)

holmedog (1130941) | more than 6 years ago | (#21494815)

Valve hires professional writers.

Re:consider some of the top selling games... (1)

king-manic (409855) | more than 6 years ago | (#21495861)

such as world of warcraft or the madden football sequels or civilization. How much value could a hollywood writer add to the storyline?

Or consider games such as halo 3, crysis or the grand theft auto series where the storyline is important. But it is the design of the game that is ultimately more important and provides a framework within which the writers work. In other words, the value-added of a hollywood writer in this case seems limited.

In each of the above examples, I see the involvement of sit-com and action-movie writers as a big negative. The story line in games can be silly at times ... but never as stupid or lame as in the vast majority of tv shows and movies out of hollywood.
A lot of games could really use a dialog rewrite. some of the dialog is terrible. Off the top of my head Marvel Ultimate alliance could. Of course some movies Movies [imdb.com] Could as well.

Re:consider some of the top selling games... (1)

necro2607 (771790) | more than 6 years ago | (#21496015)

Well, yeah, the Warcraft lore is pretty huge, overall. They could write a pretty major movie based on Warcraft, and it would be majorly successful, regardless of the Warcraft series' success, just because of the kickass compelling story. Have you played the games? The games in themselves are very very story-driven as it is (if you pay attention to the dialogue and read the manuals that have a bunch of history/story in them). [side note... No wonder I started to feel like newer games sucked - very few games can live up to those high expectations I got as a result of Warcraft 1 being one of the first games I bought - along with the Marathon series and the LucasArts adventure game Loom - all extremely story-driven games!]

Anyway, I agree with your point that some hollywood writers would turn the movie into inane crap. I cringe to imagine what the result would be of some of these mediocre tards working on video game stuff. Then again, a lot of current video games piss me off in just the same way crappy movies do. It's nothing new, I guess. When I think about it, it's no surprise either, since a big market like movies or video games are not going to do much in the way of risk-taking and innovation....

Re:consider some of the top selling games... (1)

buffer-overflowed (588867) | more than 6 years ago | (#21497993)

Warcraft 1 was supposed to be a Warhammer RTS, but Games Workshop wouldn't license their IP to blizzard, so Blizzard did a find/replace on Games Workshop fluff, and boom, the world of warcraft was born(The story goes they submitted a nigh-completed game to GW, and GW turned them down, so any original lore/story in Warcraft is of the ohshit variety). Seriously, check out some of the Warhammer fluff, it's much much better than anything Blizzard's hacks have come up with, especially Orcs [wikipedia.org] (and especially 40k Orks [wikipedia.org] ). As there was no real interest in moving beyond a thinly vieled ripoff of Warhammer until Warcraft 3, there's been little deviation. Even the art style still largely mimics GW. Starcraft deviates a bit more from 40k than Warcraft does from fantasy, but the influence still screams through loud and clear(Protoss = Eldar, Humans = Imperium, Zerg = Tyranids).

Warhammer lore itself is heavily inspired by Michael Moorcock(in particular Chaos), and both it and 40k are an enormous amalgam of various things, but have moved beyond it in the 20-some years since the first books came out(remarkably, given the just above fanfiction level of talent generally employed by games companies for book/fluff writing).

Alpha Centauri, Star Control 2 (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 6 years ago | (#21496717)

there are many examples that can be added to this list, which are games far surpassing others with their storylines.

Screenwriters vs. Authors (4, Insightful)

JBMcB (73720) | more than 6 years ago | (#21494553)

I'd rather have authors write the storylines to video games. Screenwriters specialize in storylines that are constrained by time, authors specialize in storylines that are, well, good.

[generic response] (5, Funny)

nuzak (959558) | more than 6 years ago | (#21494555)

<faux-intellectual commentary>

<elitist crap>

<broad general dismissal>

Sorry, my own writers are on strike, but I see everyone else is busy mad-libbing their own attitudes toward their hate of all things sitcoms and reality tv as if that's all there ever was out there. You think you're gaining some kind of "cred" with your oh-so-jaded attitudes?

Re:[generic response] (1)

spun (1352) | more than 6 years ago | (#21494683)

These same jaded dorkberts prbably secretly watch American Idol and actually vote. Yeah, ooh, like, I'm all intellectual and crap, I never watch TV. Yeah right. There is actually some damn good writing going on on television, better than we've seen in years. But you're obviously too busy stimulating your brain with Halo 3 and fricken' Slashdot discussions. Boy howdy, you sure are a real intelektshul.

Re:[generic response] (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#21494875)

"..better than we've seen in years."

Such as?

OTOH, it's hard for me to feel any sympathy for someone who wants to be paid for the same work over and over again.

I bet a lot of aircraft factory workers would like to get paid every time a ticket is sold.

Re:[generic response] (1)

chromatic (9471) | more than 6 years ago | (#21495037)

OTOH, it's hard for me to feel any sympathy for someone who wants to be paid for the same work over and over again.

Studios get paid for the advertisements shown with every television show aired, no matter how long it's been in syndication. Why not writers, actors, directors, and the other creative people?

Re:[generic response] (1)

spun (1352) | more than 6 years ago | (#21495051)

Huh? aircraft factory workers are not engaged in creating artistic works, they are engaged in creating physical objects. You don't think the artists should get the money, you think the fatcat business owners should? Why?

Now, as far as original writing, off the top of my head, on public channels we've got Ugly Betty, which may be a copy of a Latin soap opera, but is nonetheless original and creative writing. We've got The Reaper, which is some of the most hilarious writing since Buffy. There's The Big Bang theory, which has some of the best, most honest examples of real geeks I've seen since Freaks and Geeks. And Heroes, which should need no explanation as to why it is good. On pay channels we've got Curb Your Enthusiasm, which is what Seinfeld should have been, and Dexter, which makes serial killers sympathetic, which is no mean feat.

Anyway, arguing over this is pointless, as it's a matter of personal taste. I've said why I think current television writing is good, and given examples. That's all I can do.

Re:[generic response] (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#21496697)

My biggest beef is that a lot of the good shows get canceled, because they don't appeal to a large enough audience. I showed my dad an episode of Big Bang Theory, and he thought it was hilarious, extremely funny, and yet the next thing he said was that it wouldn't last. How many people do you think actually get most of the jokes on that show? The doppler effect costume is ironic in this effect. Nobody at the party got his costume, even when it was explained to them. I think the same could be said about the whole joke. I bet that a whole lot of people didn't get that joke, and don't get a lot of the jokes, and either don't find the show funny, and therefore don't watch, or just stare blankly trying to understand what's going on. Other shows that I really liked that were canceled include Invasion and Jericho.

Re:[generic response] (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21496471)

> Such as?

Pushing Daisies comes immediately to mind. Reaper's got potential, but it's kind of squandering it (owing in no small part to the supporting characters being more interesting than the central one).

> OTOH, it's hard for me to feel any sympathy for someone who wants to be paid for the same work over and over again.

The studios already do. Why not the writers?

Re:[generic response] (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21497559)

You're missing the part that aircraft factory workers are salaried and WGA writers, to a vast degree, aren't. They make up the difference on residuals.

There are three ways of making a movie.

1) Studios own everything. They have actors under contract, writers under contract, et cetera. They pump out studio films like we saw through the 30s and 40s. Wonder why Humphrey Bogart's always in movies from a certain studio? Under contract, and everyone got peanuts except for the studios, who raked it in. No one wants this again, except media moguls.

2) Fair salaries for everyone involved. With few exceptions, everyone thinks they're making a decent movie. People aren't able to differentiate between what will be a huge blockbuster smash and what will be a bomb... and there are far more bombs than blockbusters. If the up-front cost of each movie is too high due to salaries involved, movies won't be made.

3) Residuals, which is the way Hollywood works today. Writers and directors and actors (with few exceptions, of course) get a pittance up front and the possibility of making bank on residuals. The cost of making films is far lower, so you can get them made and out the door, and if they're a hit? Then everyone shares in the revenue afterwards. If they're a bomb? Cut the losses, and move on.

All this nonsense about "whine whine, I don't get paid residuals, therefore residuals are stupid" is just ignorance.

Oxymoron (1)

cromar (1103585) | more than 6 years ago | (#21494903)

Good writing... on TV?!

Re:Oxymoron (1)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | more than 6 years ago | (#21495147)

It all depends on what you watch. I don't watch too much TV except usually college basketball/football on the weekends, but I've really gotten into Heroes. I think it is exceptionally well written.

Re:[generic response] (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21494729)

as if that's all there ever was out there.

I think the best they could bring to the table is the notion of actually smoothing out the plot over the duration of the game, that would gradually build in, say, 45 minute increments rather than playing 20 hours before Sudden Twist! followed by another 30 hours of bland dungeon after quest before Your Friend Betrays You!

I also think that might do game writing a world of good.

Re:[generic response] (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21494807)

They already have a game like that its called "XENOGEARs"

Re:[generic response] (1)

Trespass (225077) | more than 6 years ago | (#21494985)

Physician, heal yourself.

If you're going to troll the trolls, you need a more subtle lead in.

Re:[generic response] (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21495443)

<insult about parent's presumed sexuality and/or intelligence>

<more faux-intellectual commentary>

<insistence that my faux-intellectual commentary is better than parent's faux-intellectual commentary>

<rinse and repeat>

That last one was a joke. We all know that "real geeks" don't shower. Ever.

Re:[generic response] (1)

headbone (914314) | more than 6 years ago | (#21495589)

And what about you? Git. We don't want your kind around here.

conglomerates? (1)

bigdavex (155746) | more than 6 years ago | (#21494657)

Yeah! That'll really stick it to Vivendi!

Today on VR!!! (1)

emeraldfoxx (1193353) | more than 6 years ago | (#21494715)

you get to impress that lovely lady NPC with your well rounded stats! hopefully those grind sessions are gonna pay off!

remember kids, VR is the only tv show where you choose who's the skank, the psycho-bitch, the alcoholic, and what loser is actually gonna win!!! and stay tuned for Extreme Anime Fights right after our show!

copyright emeraldfoxx corporations 2007

lol!

Welcome Writers of "The Office" (3, Insightful)

Bryansix (761547) | more than 6 years ago | (#21494895)

I for one welcome the writers for "The Office" to come help write the storyline for a game. That show is great and that kind of humor could transfer well into a game with a little work.

Re:Welcome Writers of "The Office" (1)

Karl0Erik (1138443) | more than 6 years ago | (#21495117)

I read the first five words of that post and skipped the rest, but reading it again, I have to agree. What he said.

Re:Welcome Writers of "The Office" (1)

LoofWaffle (976969) | more than 6 years ago | (#21495501)

It would be a amusing to see Jim, cloaked by his nanosuit, sneak up on Dwight. Maximum Funny.

Hollywood writers are good? (2, Interesting)

AHumbleOpinion (546848) | more than 6 years ago | (#21494961)

Why are so many people acting as if Hollywood writers are good? Go to your local bookstore and buy some of those compilations of the year's best science fiction short stories. Read the stories. I think these upcoming authors would form a far more valuable talent pool. If you look at some of the older compilations you will notice some short stories that have become movies and the true value of the typical Hollywood writer becomes painfully apparent.

Slashopinionss are good? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21495295)

"Why are so many people acting as if Hollywood writers are good? "

Better question. Why are so many slashdotters unable to distinguish between movies, games, books, and
  TV. They're all different mediums and the writing for them are different.

Re:Hollywood writers are good? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21495565)

I don't think it's that the Hollywood writers are poor - you don't get a high-paying gig without having some skills. I think it's a matter of their producers instructing them to dumb down the content - apparently, simple slop sells. Blame the drooling masses that so obviously soak up the dribble that passes as 'prime time content', as reinforced by the high ratings of these shows.

Indeed - everyone should go to the bookstore. I totally agree. Or rather, let them stay home and gel on their sofas...I'll gladly climb over them.

Re:Hollywood writers are good? (1)

ducomputergeek (595742) | more than 6 years ago | (#21497275)

Not to defend all the writers, but usually it goes something like this: Writer creates an outline, perhaps a first draft. Outline/Draft then goes to director and ultimately the producers for comment/suggestions/etc.. Generally it's at this stage where what the writer intended to write and what the producers want to see start to diverge.

I remember seeing a lecture by Kevin Smith once talking about how he was contracted to write a superhero movie (An early incarnation of what was eventually Superman Returns IIRC) where the producer wanted to see Superman battling giant robot spiders. Kevin Smith basically said, "Um, Superman doesn't do that." and eventually the project fell apart and was shelved for a few more years.

I don't remember the time frame, but a few months/years later the film Wild Wild West came out and had (drumroll please) tada, giant robotic spiders. (Guess who produced it)

So not all the crap can be blamed on the writers. Sometimes it's "You will write what I (the producer) tell you if you want to get paid!".

Re:Hollywood writers are good? (1)

halycon404 (1101109) | more than 6 years ago | (#21499805)

Just to be fair, its not always the writers fault. In print media the writer has pretty much full creative control over their work, not so in film. In the end they have to conform to what the director/producer/actor want. A director may take a beautifully written sequence and pair it with music that doesn't match, or odd camera angels that subtract from the scene. Producers may want certain things because of a product placement or promotion that ties into the film. Actors are famous for wanting to adlib a few lines because all of the greats did it, it puts a feather into their cap to feel they know how to write, instead of just pretend. Then you have mother nature to deal with, what happens if you get a week of rain when you were schedualed to shoot a sunny day sequence? A lot of faults in film can fall directly at the writers, but a lot more of it is completely out of their control.

I'm torn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21494991)

On the one hand, I think the writers should be due what their product earns in markets other than broadcast, since they contribute directly to those products. In the case of film, it's positively criminal that the directors and producers are famous and the writers almost never get name recognition unless they are also a writer, producer or actor. In television, it's even worse, and their work is distributed in more ways.
On the other hand, the quality of their work has suffered so much over the last 20 years (and us with it) that I really don't mind that much if they all starve. When you can use one hand to count the shows that don't suck, insult your intelligence or heterosexual manhood, or otherwise play to the lowest common denominator or some less common, even lower ones, you stop caring if they ever go to work again. Television may be better off without them until they show that they can actually produce something worth watching, let alone watching more than once or over an on-demand connection.

Who said game writers were that bad? (1)

wattrlz (1162603) | more than 6 years ago | (#21495285)

It hasn't been my experience that there's any need for this extra, "talent" in the gaming industry. More importantly, though. These recently displaced writers are going to want 8% of every disk sold, and let's not even think about what'll happen when the WGA finds out about p2p.

Guilds, Associations, Unions, etc. (1)

fishybell (516991) | more than 6 years ago | (#21496203)

Why is it that in America is is illegal for companies to fix prices and perfectly legal for individuals to fix wages?


If companies were allowed to collude on prices the consumer loses, and thus the economy loses. Why is it that no one seems to be able to see that when individuals collude on wages businesses lose, thus the consumer loses, and finally the economy loses?

Here in Utah there was a raging debate recently about how to "fix" public education by allowing a voucher system. The argument was that this would force public schools to "compete" with the private schools and eachother. Of course, this argument had the vast flaw that the public schools don't have to compete because the teachers' union ensures that teachers get paid for being there, not for actual performance. In a local private school my boss is on the board for there was a problem with a teacher telling an off-color joke to elementry students. When the students repeated the joke to their parents the parents told the board, the board conferred with the principal, and the teacher was immediately fired. Within two weeks they had another teacher in the classroom. When I was in 7th grade there was an aging teacher who should have been in a mental institution. She hadn't taught a lesson in at least 10 years, but the school couldn't fire her. She told students that she lived underneath a neighboring city with aliens, and I'm pretty sure she believed it herself. Well, about a week before class started she finally died. The entire first semester they weren't able to hire a new teacher because of union rules. The private school had a substitute for two weeks, the private school had a team of substitutes for four months.

Back in the day, before unions, houses were built by the thousands with bricks. Not because they were the best, or the cheapest, but because it was the style. The bricklayers, feeling that they were being grifted, unionized, as was the style of the time. Very quickly the cost of building with bricks became too prohibitive, and the bricklayers mostly lost their jobs. Overall society didn't hurt too much, but it had a large impact on the southern California economy.

That leaves us with the current WGA prediciment. The WGA prevents companies who hire their members from hiring non-members as best they can. Now, when the writers finally figure out that the guild has left them with a shitty contract (which has been shitty for dozens of years now) they strike, leaving a gap in the economy. Admittedly, this is a small gap, but a gap nonetheless. If the guild had not been fixing wages/contracts for its hundreds (thousands?) of members, each individual would instead be creating their own contract allowing them to ask for what they need. The studios would only be able to hire workers at market price (whether higher or lower than existing is impossible to know) giving market benifits, royalties, etc.

So this all leaves me with the lingering question, why is it that businesses can't fix prices while people can?

Re:Guilds, Associations, Unions, etc. (3, Informative)

edremy (36408) | more than 6 years ago | (#21496423)

Back in the day, before unions, houses were built by the thousands with bricks. Not because they were the best, or the cheapest, but because it was the style. The bricklayers, feeling that they were being grifted, unionized, as was the style of the time. Very quickly the cost of building with bricks became too prohibitive, and the bricklayers mostly lost their jobs. Overall society didn't hurt too much, but it had a large impact on the southern California economy.

Southern California? Having lived there, I can tell you unionization had very little to do with not having brick houses. California doesn't have brick houses because they fall down in earthquakes.

Re:Guilds, Associations, Unions, etc. (1)

fishybell (516991) | more than 6 years ago | (#21496529)

That's why I said "back in the day." I don't recall the exact dates, but we're talking dozens of years before people stopped building/buying earthquake coded houses. Goverment regulation on coding really jumstarted with the San Francisco earthquake.

The San Francisco earthquake. You know, THAT one. (1)

ZJVavrek (952066) | more than 6 years ago | (#21500155)

It's San Francisco, it's not like it gets earthquakes often, or major earthquakes more than once per century.

Re:Guilds, Associations, Unions, etc. (2, Insightful)

SparkleMotion88 (1013083) | more than 6 years ago | (#21496523)

This one's easy. Either you have above average resources (money, etc) or below average resources. If you have below average, you benefit from socialism (including unions), whereas if you have above average, socialism tends to hurt you. It turns out that a majority of people in any group tends to have below average resources. This majority is easily able to use their votes to make their desired socialism legal. These businesses you mention don't have enough votes to make price fixing legal.

This has nothing to do with what is morally "right" or "wrong", nor is there a double standard. This is an inevitable result of people making rational decisions in order to benefit from the laws. Anything that benefits a majority of the people will be voted into law, even if it hurts the minority.

Re:Guilds, Associations, Unions, etc. (1)

fishybell (516991) | more than 6 years ago | (#21497225)

Socialism doesn't help below average earners. There is not one example in all of history where the goverment has been able to adequetely manage the economy to the point of bringing everyone out of poverty. The only socialized countries that do well are ones that already had an above average standard of living.


In India the government used to (until rather recently) highly regulate all imports and exports to protect the local economy and the local impoverished population. Of course after many years they've finally realised that it wasn't helping and the import of goods from other countries, and the export of talent and goods has drastically raised the standard of living for much of the population from the highest tier to the bottom rung. They still have much poverty, but it's getting better through open markets and lack of government interference.

Socialism, communism, and all the ilk fail at their one goal: help the little man. They have points that help the middle-classed, elite, and everyone inbetween, but do little to help the bottom tier.

I agree, this has absolutely nothing to do with right or wrong; capatilism is merely the most efficient way to achieve a higher standard of living for the whole population. People, on the other hand, tend to vote for what is right or wrong, or at least what they think is right or wrong. This is why, especially in impoverished countries like Venezuela the people are voting for socialism. The think, and quite possibly the politicians also think, that the goverment should help people by lowering prices, raising wages, etc. Governments are notoriously bad at this. Any organization would be. The problem is simply too large. For example, if the main staple food, say wheat, were to drastically raise in price (either from increased demand or from decreased supply) the government would come in and set the price to the "correct" price of what is was before it rose to a too costly of price. Of course, as there is already a too high of demand or too little of supply, the amount of food will simply run out. The businesses and farmers who grew the wheat are no longer getting the amount of money possible from the crop, and the people still don't have enough wheat. On the other hand, if the goverment did nothing, people would have been forced to purchase other food to feed their families, the demand for wheat at the price given would drop, and the wheat would not necessarily run out. Everyone would still have access, but they'd cut down on wheat usage and end up with higher use potatoes, corn, rice, etc. How exactly is the government helping the lower class by setting a cap on the price of wheat?

Re:Guilds, Associations, Unions, etc. (3, Informative)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 6 years ago | (#21496573)

and perfectly legal for individuals to fix wages?


Frankly, that statement just doesn't hold water. Neither the individual part, nor the fix wages part have much grounding in reality.

First of all, the union isn't about the individual. Its about the union, hence the name union. The union is concerned with seeing that all of its members get a fair shake. There is no individual action within a union, for better or for worse. The union instead goes by something like the strength in numbers principle, using the collective strength of its members together.

But equally wrong is your statement about fixing wages. The union isn't trying to fix wages - that would be communism. The union is just trying to ensure that the wage floor is adequate for full time work. In the example you were complaining about regarding the teachers union, the union wants to ensure that full time teachers make an adequate salary when they start. They don't restrict the maximum that their members can earn (how would they retain members if they did?) - they just want to ensure that their members all have livable wages.

It is also worth pointing out that countries who are doing better economically than the US (their numbers growing every day) tend to actually have higher rates of union membership than we do. For example, Canadian union membership is around 30% nationally, as opposed to around 12% in the US. But yet their dollar is worth more than ours, and their life expectancy exceeds ours. Oh, and their educational system is often more highly regarded than ours.

So you are free to hate the unions if you wish, but please, check your facts before you blame the world on them.

Re:Guilds, Associations, Unions, etc. (1)

fishybell (516991) | more than 6 years ago | (#21496969)

How is raising the floor for entry not price fixing? If there were 100 teachers willing to work for 40,000, 50 willing to work for 30,000, and 10 willing to work for 20,000, why should we not be allowed to hire those bottom 10 at the rate they are worth? Many teachers leave the practice because wages are low, but that's their choice. If there were no teachers available at 20,000, don't you think schools would hire the ones that are available at a higher rate? All jobs in all walks of life get paid exactly as much as they should be, unless they are at the floor or ceiling of any price fixing strategy. People might feel that they "deserve" better or are "worth" more, but if there's someone waiting behind you to do the same job for the same price or less, you're worth only that amount. Price fixing isn't just about setting a maximum (like sports owners sometimes try to create) but rather about setting any rate as the rate for a given job or product.


Believe me, I think unions are fine for other things such as raising legislative concerns about working safety conditions, breaks, etc, but price is always best decided by the market. If bricks are too expensive, build with wood, if wood's too expensive, build with steel, if steel's too expensive, buy a used house or rent for a while to save more money. If teacher's aren't being hired, raise the base rate. Don't complain that teachers aren't paid enough unless teachers are quitting for better jobs at such a rate that there is a shortage. Once there is a shortage the prices will inevitably rise to more palatable rate.

Re:Guilds, Associations, Unions, etc. (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 6 years ago | (#21497545)

If there were 100 teachers willing to work for 40,000, 50 willing to work for 30,000, and 10 willing to work for 20,000, why should we not be allowed to hire those bottom 10 at the rate they are worth?


Thats really two not the same question - what a teacher is willing to work for, vs. what they are worth. And I'd like to start by asking who would really want their kids taught by someone willing to teach for only 20k? Shouldn't the wage for a full-time job be at least high enough to discourage the employee (the teacher in this case) from needing to seek out a second job to pay their cost of living? If you only pay a teacher $20k in a city where cost of living is $35, they'll have to make the other $15k somewhere. And that could well be a second or third-shift job that goes year round. This would of course eat into the time that the teacher should spend grading junior's homework and planning junior's lesson plan.

And on top of that, if a school hires at $20k, what kind of retention would you expect them to have? If one school hires teachers straight from college for $20k, and another school 5 miles away does it for $40, how long will any teacher worth their salt stay at $20k? This is a big part of why inner city schools (and even first ring suburbs in some areas) end up with sub-par teachers; they're only willing and able to pay sub-par rates.

However, the union assisting the wage floor actually helps this problem. I say this because if the poor schools don't have the option to hire teachers at $20k, they will subsequently need to raise money to pay the base wage.

All jobs in all walks of life get paid exactly as much as they should be, unless they are at the floor or ceiling of any price fixing strategy.


We'll have to agree to disagree on this one. I don't think that the executives at HMO's or airlines deserve multi-million dollar annual bonuses, nor do I think that any athlete alive or dead ever truly earned a multi-million dollar annual salary. And thats to say nothing about the people who contribute orders of magnitude more to society and the world at large who are paid so much less.

Price fixing isn't just about setting a maximum (like sports owners sometimes try to create) but rather about setting any rate as the rate for a given job or product.

Then by that statement, the teacher's union is not partaking in price fixing. They don't set the rate. They set the minimum rate. You can pay a teacher as much over the minimum as you want, and the union won't stop you. They just want to ensure that you're not ripping off the teachers and cheating them out of a livable wage for full-time work.

but price is always best decided by the market


Again, we'll just have to agree to disagree. I'll say the market can sometimes accurately decide a price. But there are some products and occupations that I feel should not be left to the lowest bidder.

Re:Guilds, Associations, Unions, etc. (1)

GalacticLordXenu (1195057) | more than 6 years ago | (#21497971)

Thats really two not the same question - what a teacher is willing to work for, vs. what they are worth. And I'd like to start by asking who would really want their kids taught by someone willing to teach for only 20k? Shouldn't the wage for a full-time job be at least high enough to discourage the employee (the teacher in this case) from needing to seek out a second job to pay their cost of living? If you only pay a teacher $20k in a city where cost of living is $35, they'll have to make the other $15k somewhere. And that could well be a second or third-shift job that goes year round. This would of course eat into the time that the teacher should spend grading junior's homework and planning junior's lesson plan.
Sorry, but value is determined by market demand. Value is a subjective quality, not objective; your personal preferences or opinions are not universal law. Regardless, he only gave a rough example; price doesn't necessarily equate "skill". Different people have different wants and some may think the 20k is a better deal than what someone who may reject it might think.

And on top of that, if a school hires at $20k, what kind of retention would you expect them to have? If one school hires teachers straight from college for $20k, and another school 5 miles away does it for $40, how long will any teacher worth their salt stay at $20k? This is a big part of why inner city schools (and even first ring suburbs in some areas) end up with sub-par teachers; they're only willing and able to pay sub-par rates. However, the union assisting the wage floor actually helps this problem. I say this because if the poor schools don't have the option to hire teachers at $20k, they will subsequently need to raise money to pay the base wage.
Sometimes businesses hire low entry wage and raise the salary if they wish to keep the employee. Imagine that! And If some schools don't have the option to hire teachers at $20k, they don't magically pull the money out of the hat. Sometimes, without money... they close down! Additionally, it might not necessarily be simply sub-par teachers causing an education gap in schools, but the students themselves. Often inner-city school kids don't WANT to be smart or get good grades, because they don't want to give in to "the man". Another factor is the socioeconomic and family background of the students.

We'll have to agree to disagree on this one. I don't think that the executives at HMO's or airlines deserve multi-million dollar annual bonuses, nor do I think that any athlete alive or dead ever truly earned a multi-million dollar annual salary. And thats to say nothing about the people who contribute orders of magnitude more to society and the world at large who are paid so much less.
Again, your personal thoughts and opinions are not universal law. Supply and demand rules who makes what; if you don't like how much they pay their executives then don't do business with them. Or do you think you have a right to their services at a price you like? Are you going to king yourself and hand out salaries based upon your personal preferences, based on your value judgments who contributes to the world better? Athletes, etc, make a lot of money simply because of market forces. If you don't like it, then tough; that's the way it'll always be, because of supply and demand. Your only recourse is to cry into a pillow, if you haven't already.

Then by that statement, the teacher's union is not partaking in price fixing. They don't set the rate. They set the minimum rate. You can pay a teacher as much over the minimum as you want, and the union won't stop you. They just want to ensure that you're not ripping off the teachers and cheating them out of a livable wage for full-time work.
Of course, this is all your personal opinion. The parallels between yours and Marx's philosophies are pretty clear. If a teacher doesn't take a job at 20k, then the job isn't worth 20k, and they must raise the price. If a teacher decides that the 20k a job is worth it, then they're not getting ripped off, are they? They aren't owed the job, and nobody is forcing them to take it. If the job isn't paying enough, then perhaps it's time to get into a different market. I guess cartels don't partake in price-fixing, either, because they only set the minimum price. They're free to charge more money than the rest of the cartel; I doubt the cartel will be very upset by those actions.

Again, we'll just have to agree to disagree. I'll say the market can sometimes accurately decide a price. But there are some products and occupations that I feel should not be left to the lowest bidder.
Again, that's your personal, narrow-minded preferences; you're a consumer that wants things, wants them now, and wants them cheap, with no idea of the forces that determine price and why some prices may be high and some prices may be low. Unions are simply labor cartels.

Re:Guilds, Associations, Unions, etc. (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 6 years ago | (#21498491)

Sometimes businesses hire low entry wage and raise the salary if they wish to keep the employee.

Except that some schools don't have that option. If the school doesn't have the money to increase the teachers' salaries - because the board said they must pay teachers X wage even though another is paying 1.5*X - then the district loses the teacher.

If instead the district is told that teachers won't work for less than 1.5*X, then they have to come up with the money - either raise funds or reduce other expenditures and salaries. Hence the union-set minimum salary is actually helping because it aids in getting the entire labor force of that industry and market a better wage.

Often inner-city school kids don't WANT to be smart or get good grades, because they don't want to give in to "the man"

Thats an interesting perspective. From inner city youth that I have known, their lack of academic progress usually has less to do with "the man" and more to do with their culture. Many of them seem to believe that they will be the next star athlete or hip-hop artist. An effective teacher should be able to help them to realize that they need a plan B. However a teacher at a lousy wage will likely be more concerned with either finding a better job or getting ready for their second job of the day.

Of course, this is all your personal opinion.

I believe you are referring to where I demonstrated that the union doesn't meet his definition of price fixing. I guess you can discard my statement as opinion, but that doesn't change his previous definition or its lack of application to supporting opinion.

If a teacher decides that the 20k a job is worth it, then they're not getting ripped off, are they? They aren't owed the job, and nobody is forcing them to take it.

Taking the job at a given wage and agreeing with the wage are not the same thing. If a teacher takes a job straight out of school at $20k because its offered, that doesn't mean they think the wage is correct. And likely, they'll move on to a better paying position not long after. But in the end, the school loses.

I guess cartels don't partake in price-fixing, either, because they only set the minimum price.

If you want to talk cartels, than maybe we should ask why our government has put so much work into breaking up the "labor cartel" and so little into breaking up the oil cartel.

Again, that's your personal, narrow-minded preferences; you're a consumer that wants things, wants them now, and wants them cheap, with no idea of the forces that determine price and why some prices may be high and some prices may be low.

Thank you for clarifying my stupidity. I never realized that I was so horribly narrow minded and uninformed. Obviously you know more about my buying preferences on goods than I ever could, so it was very nice of you to clarify this.
Similarly:

The parallels between yours and Marx's philosophies are pretty clear.

I'll presume that coming from your perspective, this is the economic equivalent of invoking a Hitler comparison in a political discussion. I'll also say I do find it slightly amusing that you seem to feel that labor unions lead towards communism. There are plenty of G8 countries - indeed pretty much all of them except for our own - that would argue that strong labor unions do not do that.

Re:Guilds, Associations, Unions, etc. (1)

fishybell (516991) | more than 6 years ago | (#21498695)

If you want to talk cartels, than maybe we should ask why our government has put so much work into breaking up the "labor cartel" and so little into breaking up the oil cartel.

Which government exactly is it that's breaking up unions? Please let me know, I'd like to sign up.

I'm not going to say that you're narrow minded like the GP, merely under-educated. Please take a basic economics course from your local college. When the teacher and the textbooks say pretty much what I and others have just said, and you still think you're right, then you'll be narrow minded. If you've already passed an economics class, then please disregard this paragraph; you are narrow minded. Econonics is a science. Its tenants are guided by observation from actual data just like every other science. What you have are not opinions, they are non-facts. You might think you're right, but just like young-earthers, your beliefs have no basis in reality.

Re:Guilds, Associations, Unions, etc. (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 6 years ago | (#21499271)

Which government exactly is it that's breaking up unions? Please let me know, I'd like to sign up.

Try the current government in the US. You could start by going back to the actions that Ronald Reagan took against air traffic controllers in 1981, when he fired over 80% of the unionized workers. Similarly, the Bush currently in the white house has tried to revoke the right to strike from the US Postal Service.

Or were you either not born or not awake during the Reagan administration? I'm inclined to believe that you know at least enough about it that you credit him personally with taking down the Berlin wall, though.

And thanks for admitting openly that you hate the unions enough to want to see the government partake in their demise. You're getting your wish with the current administration...

Please take a basic economics course from your local college.

I already took Econ 1001. I don't intend to take any time off my PhD to take any additional Econ, as it isn't close enough to my field of study to justify it. But thanks for the offer.

What you have are not opinions, they are non-facts.

I find it interesting that you discarded the parts of my reply where I used facts to point out the flaws in your argument. You then proceeded to call me narrow minded and lacking in facts. Have you looked at yourself in a mirror lately? As I said before, you are free to hate the unions as much as you want (and I see you do that part quite well). I'd just like to see you actually use truthful information to back up your hatred.

Re:Guilds, Associations, Unions, etc. (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 6 years ago | (#21499859)

Athletes, etc, make a lot of money simply because of market forces. If you don't like it, then tough; that's the way it'll always be, because of supply and demand.

In the case of airline executives, in particular, the compensation is not based on the forces of the market and what it can bear. If it were, then the airlines would adjust their CEO compensation before asking for government money to bail their sorry selves out.

Instead, the CEOs set their own salaries to beyond what the market can bear, and they expect the market to adjust accordingly to accommodate their "needs".

And thanks for the comment about crying into a pillow - I'm still laughing at that one several hours after you first posted it. That you would think so poorly of me is, well, quite laughable. But again, you are intended to your own poorly-informed opinion, even if it has little to no grounding in reality.

Re:Guilds, Associations, Unions, etc. (2, Insightful)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 6 years ago | (#21498115)

price is still decided by the market, the employees vote on the employers proposal and decide to accept the offer if is is sufficient. the purpose of unions is to balance out the fact that the employer ALWAYS wins a war of attrition. the plant can shut down or run at reduced capacity with scabs and still make money, since the employees who are missing aren't getting paid. the employees OTOH don't have their bills go down since they aren't working, it's also much easier to select a temporary replacement employee than it is to find a company willing to hire you "just long enough for to negotiate with my real job for a raise"

Re:Guilds, Associations, Unions, etc. (1)

immcintosh (1089551) | more than 6 years ago | (#21498415)

I think the argument goes something like this...

We don't prevent price fixing in our society because there is something inherently wrong with it, in and of itself. We prevent it because, as a whole, it is detrimental to the majority of citizens for the benefit of the few. Essentially, it is prevented not because it's inherently wrong to fix prices, but because it hurts society.

Now, consider the same argument with wages. Does it hurt society to enforce a minimum adequate wage? No, and if you want to argue this point then that's an entirely different track to get off on. My argument then, is that the two really aren't comparable. Price fixing is considered unacceptable for reasons that simply do not apply to wage fixing, and it's simply a confusion of language that describing both situations as "fixing" makes them appear commensurable.

Re:Guilds, Associations, Unions, etc. (1)

fishybell (516991) | more than 6 years ago | (#21498977)

Does it hurt society to enforce a minimum adequate wage? No, and if you want to argue this point then that's an entirely different track to get off on.

It does hurt society to have a minimum wage. By setting a floor on the amount a business can hire at, the number of employees, and thus the number unemployeed, is off from what the market could handle. Does a teenager working at McDonalds earn $6 an hour for the company? Sure, but would the McDonalds not be able to offer better service if it could hire two teenagers working for $3 an hour? At a point, the only people willing to work at a very low wage ($7.50 or less) are those whose skillsets can't afford them a better job. Sure it would be nice if everyone had some special skill that could make them hundreds of thousands of dollars per year, but that's just not the case. The population contains the entire gamut of skillsets from the brightest engineer working for NASA to the janitor who keeps mixing ammonia and chlorine. Not all of these people are capable of producing a profit for a company with their skillset.

A prime example of would be the mentally or physically disabled. My company, years and years ago, hired a man who was moderately mentally handicapped. He was perfectly proficient at doing the same simple task over and over and over all day long. He wasn't as quick as the average Joe we were hiring at minimum wage (probably $3 or $4 at the time), so we paid him less. This was the only job he could get, and he was contributing to society. When we finally got caught, we had to fire him. Now he has no job and just sits in his room at a home all day. Before he was helping pay his way at the home, now the state is paying his entire way, and he is, to put it bluntly, a burden on society. The argument could be made that we were exploiting this man, but the reality is, we were paying him what he was worth to us (there is no such thing "real worth") under the supervision of the home. When we were forced to pay him minimum wage, he was no longer profitable to keep. We could have kept him on as a charity case, and that might have been profitable from a PR viewpoint, but that was not the decision that was made at the time. More businesses could be profitable and less would go bankrupt if minimum wages were abolished. Sadly, the people who do not earn their wage for the company will have a loss in standard of living, and might even have to take on a second or third job, but if there were enough of an incentive to the companies to hire those that were worth their cost, society as a whole would gain.

Re:Guilds, Associations, Unions, etc. (1)

Grym (725290) | more than 6 years ago | (#21499687)

Now he [a mentally handicapped person] has no job and just sits in his room at a home all day. Before he was helping pay his way at the home, now the state is paying his entire way, and he is, to put it bluntly, a burden on society. The argument could be made that we were exploiting this man...

Nonsense! Our destitute country has carried such burdens long enough! I suggest that we immediately find a way to harness this vast, untapped resource that is our nation's retarded. Clearly, a giant city-sized, electricity-producing hamster wheel is in order. Oh it would be glorious! Imagine how grateful the cretins would be for finally having a purpose in the cogs of industry and progress--indeed, a very purpose for living. But more important than that, imagine.... the profit.

[/sarcasm]

It does hurt society to have a minimum wage. By setting a floor on the amount a business can hire at, the number of employees, and thus the number unemployeed, is off from what the market could handle.

The U.S. currently has a 95.5% employment rate, which for all intents and purposes represents maximal employment. Do you really think that a lack of a minimum wage would add significantly to that number?

It's sad that so many Americans have become so myopically obsessed with self-interest and short-term thinking that such things need to be outright explained, but you need to realize, Mr. Small-business, that social policies like welfare, disability, and the minimum wage benefit you--yes you! Even the most cursory examination of history shows that, while the masses will put up with a lot (e.g. feudalism, monarchy, oppression, even slavery), if they can't eat or care for their families, they will revolt. And revolutions, by the by, are bad for business.

Furthermore, though its quite evident that you seem confident of your position within the world, it (should) go without saying that you could just as easily end up in their (the mentally or physically disabled) position too. I would wager that you might see things a little differently if that were (God forbid) ever the case.

-Grym

Re:Guilds, Associations, Unions, etc. (1)

immcintosh (1089551) | more than 6 years ago | (#21499733)

This discussion isn't about minimum wage though, and it never was. That's something of a straw man to the topic at hand, which is union negotiated wages above legally required minimum wage. The reason it is a straw man is that people employed at minimum wage are generally easily replaceable, whereas people employed above minimum wage generally aren't. In other words, these people are going to be employed whether their employer is forced to pay $20 an hour or $30 an hour, assuming the employer can afford the latter without going out of business.

This brings us back to the original point, which is whether wage fixing is deleterious as price fixing is seen to be. Now, we will assume that the unions will not make demands quite so unreasonable that it would put the employers out of business to meet them, which is a reasonable assumption in my experience. Now, the matter at hand is something as an oddball, because it's about royalties rather than straight wages as I understand it. Even so, we will generalize to all union wage disputes, and say that it is really an argument about distribution of wealth, with the above premise that it is not going to degenerate to a matter of employment versus unemployment. And my position stands as it was, that in cases such as this wage fixing is not deleterious to society in the same way as price fixing, because it is essentially a redistribution of wealth in favor of the majority.

My argument is nothing more than that. I am not even saying that wage fixing is right, just that it isn't wrong in the same way as price fixing is. Whether it's wrong in another way is a whole other debate.

----- and now for something different ---

Now, with that out of the way, I'm very curious about the example you give of your company. You hired a person, presumably to do some task that you felt needed to be done, but decided to pay him less than minimum wage. Now, I will give you the benefit of the doubt and say the reason you did so was that you did not value the task he was performing at more than a certain amount, and when forced to pay that amount the benefit did not match the cost. What I find troubling, however, is your description of this individual seems to indicate that he was able perform this task proficiently. Now, after firing him, was it the case that this task simply no longer got done? I find that difficult to believe. Did you turn around and hire somebody else to perform the task at the same rate, risking legal intervention again? I also find that difficult to believe.

The conclusion I draw from your story is this: a handicapped person who was proficient at a task was fired, to be replaced by a non-handicapped person... proficient at the task. Perhaps there is an element missing from the story--perhaps this was some non-essential task that was being given to this person to do out of good will (although why you wouldn't just pay him as a part time position so you could pay him less within the bounds of law I don't know)--but as it stands I would say that I'm surprised you didn't suffer the brunt of anti-discrimination laws (although you say it was a while ago, so there may have been none such). Please, correct me if I'm wrong, I'd hate to think that this was the case.

Re:Guilds, Associations, Unions, etc. (1)

MarkAyen (726688) | more than 6 years ago | (#21497493)

Actually, fishybell's grasp of the facts doesn't seem too far off base to me.

First of all, the union isn't about the individual. Its about the union, hence the name union. The union is concerned with seeing that all of its members get a fair shake.

No, it's about seeing that all of its members get an unfair shake (if by "shake" you mean compensation).

In a fair free-market scenario, quantity of labor supplied would equal quantity of labor demanded. Elementary macroeconomics states that when the supply and demand curves meet, that will dictate a market quantity of labor and price (or wages, from the worker's perspective). However, when labor suppliers (unions) are able to collude on wages and labor demanders (employers) are not, that creates a situation that disproportionately favors the suppliers, artificially driving up costs (wages).

But equally wrong is your statement about fixing wages. The union isn't trying to fix wages - that would be communism.

Actaully, that would be authoritariamism. And that's exactly what unions do. They have a government-protected right to not only set minimum wages for their members, but also to create an effective labor monopoly.

So you are free to hate the unions if you wish, but please, check your facts before you blame the world on them.

I'm not sure why you felt you had to react to fishybell's post so vehemently, but I don't think he's the only one who needs to get his facts straight.

Re:Guilds, Associations, Unions, etc. (2, Insightful)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 6 years ago | (#21497769)

No, it's about seeing that all of its members get an unfair shake

Please elaborate on this. I'd like to know how you feel the unions see that their members get an unfair shake.

However, when labor suppliers (unions) are able to collude on wages and labor demanders (employers) are not, that creates a situation that disproportionately favors the suppliers, artificially driving up costs (wages).

Thats an interesting viewpoint, but I disagree with your description of the situation. Indeed, there are few examples remaining outside of education where the people looking for labor are obligated to work with the unions. And even in that example, I've seen districts that hire substitutes from outside the unions, sometimes to longer than usual time frames.

Furthermore, your statement that it artificially drives up costs is opinionated at best. Union members are often better qualified for their work than those who would do the work for much less, which results in a better value for the money when compared to paying less up front and then having to have the shoddy work of the underqualified fixed later.

They have a government-protected right to not only set minimum wages for their members, but also to create an effective labor monopoly.

I'm not sure where you think that is in effect. The department of labor has a reputation over at least the past 7 years of continually working against the unions. And as I already mentioned, only around 12% of the US labor force is in a union, so I'm not sure how that constitutes a "labor monopoly". Even many of the manufacturing jobs in this country - where unions were previously quite strong - have gone to non-union shops. If you look at http://www.uaw.com/uawmade/auto/2007/index.cfm/ [uaw.com] a list of union made cars from the US and Canada, you'll see that even a many vehicles that claim "made in the USA" are not made by unions. So their labor monopoly really doesn't exist, and doesn't have government protection.

Re:Guilds, Associations, Unions, etc. (1)

fishybell (516991) | more than 6 years ago | (#21499215)

So their labor monopoly really doesn't exist, and doesn't have government protection.

Have you ever heard of prevailing wage? I work for a company that receives the bulk of its profits from government contracts. We often hire workers in a local city, we pay them what they demand, because there's only so many construction companies. Often times the contractor will hire union workers, often times not. We also have our own install crews that aren't unionized. We can't, however, pay them what we like. Depending on the city, county, state, we have to pay our own workers "prevailing wage." Unions have negotiated rates at which all sorts of skilled (and IMHO unskilled) laborers get paid. Rough numbers seem to be in the $40 to $60 an hour rate for welders, forklift drivers, crane operators, electricians, etc. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to any of it. In one city a welder will earn $35 an hour, and an electrician $80. In a city across the country the numbers will completely reversed. Of course, we pay the local rates when we use the local labor, so no problem. When we have our own team do the install we have to pay them forklift driver rates when they're driving a forklift, electrician rates when they're pulling cat5 cables, and metal-worker rates when they're bolting a 1/2 steel plate to the ceiling or walls. These are the same 3 or 4 people doing all of these jobs and we have to pay them $40 an hour for 30 minutes, $70 an hour for 3 hours, and $25 hour for four hours, and our normal rate for when they're eating lunch or taking a dump. It's extremely complicated, especially when the local unions decide to visit to see why we aren't hiring their guy for 15 minutes of work.

From my limited company experience from inside the IT office I'd say we are required by law to pay prevailing wage somewhere in the range of 50-60% of the time. All of these costs we pass on to the customer (we itemize install costs as part of the total price of installation) who in turn, passes it on to their source of income, who is almost always you, the taxpayer. So the next time you see an article in the newspaper about a new training facility for your local police department, correctional facility, or SWAT team, just think about how you likely helped pay a few Joes in Utah an extra few thousand dollars beyond what they were willing to work at, if only your local government didn't have prevailing wage contracts with the local unions.

Re:Guilds, Associations, Unions, etc. (1)

buffer-overflowed (588867) | more than 6 years ago | (#21498455)

Well, back in the day I could buy the services of a man and his descendants for life from a friendly dealer in such things. Sometimes at auction, other times right off the boat. It was an institution condoned by the bible, called slavery. Times moved on.

Back in the day I could pay my workers in company money, good only at my company store, and that was alright. I had no incentive to provide for their safety or continued well-being, and if my workers got uppity and tried to form a garsh-darned union, I could just hire different workers, or hire a group of strike-breaking thugs to go make an example out of a few of them. And of course, in the case of say, coal-mining in appalachia, when the seams dried up we just pull out of our company town, massive labor savings when we close the company store and all we've paid out is now worthless. As an added bonus we can evict our workers from their company housing! Score! Times moved on.

Let's look at the opposite side of the coin for a second, in most of the country, non-compete aggreements are currently completely legal. Not so in California, which has made them non-enforceable, unjustly restricting the rights of employers to set the own terms for employment. The knaves! Of course a side-effect of this is that Silicon Valley became the tech center instead of Rt. 128...

Or are we talking about a real free-market for labor? I presume then we are tearing down national borders for the movement of labor? So, say a comp-sci grad from landimmakingupica willing to work for minimum wage and with a working knowledge of english should of course have your job. He's willing to work for far less and is just as talented after all. We'll just curtail the right of assembly for all american citizens so they can't unionize and demand a fair wage, and let the Landimmakingupicans have all of those jobs.

Unions form due to the fact that if they are not present then the wealthy heads of businesses(who are often the wealthy heads of businesses due to the luck of being passed through the right vagina, yay for meritocracy let's repeal the estate tax so we have a class of people that never needs to actually earn anything!) have a tendency to abuse their labor pools as much as possible for their own benefit. Have Unions become organizations that in many ways serve their own interests as opposed to the interests they were originally formed to protect? Yes. Does this make them some far-flung evil? No. The amount of good unions are responsible for, especially in regards to the middle class, over the course of history is staggering. You don't have to hire union workers by and large, except in certain areas that have enshrined them as much in law as the police dept or local utility monopolies. But that's fucking democracy for you, people just have no sympathy for wanting to condemn a man to slow death from black lung so you can draw a higher salary and pay out a few more cents a share. Fucking democracy, fucking western society, damn uppity peasants! Teacher's 30k in debt should have to work for whatever we fucking offer! That'll help affordable education, as the pool shrinks and wages for qualified teachers go through the roof.

Re:Guilds, Associations, Unions, etc. (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 6 years ago | (#21499319)

That's a well-constructed argument. I wish I could apply my karma bonus to it so that more people would see it. Being as this discussion has already likely moved past the end of the day (and never even made full front-page status) its not likely that asking for someone to mod it up it will do much at this point.

But I tip my hat to you, sir. It looks like the best feedback we can take from it is that the staunch anti-union guys here won't touch it.

Re:Guilds, Associations, Unions, etc. (1)

fishybell (516991) | more than 6 years ago | (#21499323)

Unions should have but one purpose: to protect the well being of their members. To start out with, this meant making sure they didn't die of black lung disease or get their arm eaten by the sausage machine. The companies, of course, were reluctant to provide safety because it cut into their bottem line. Unions, however, should not have the ability to dictate safety codes, that's the job of the goverment. Overall, this helps society because when the sausage factory workers strike because of no safety standards, and the government passes safety laws, the butcher shops and and bacon plant also have to abide them without their workers needing to strike. Of course, as we are not talking about hypotheticals here, but actual history, and we can see that that is roughly what happened. During the depressions of post Civil War and post World War I, many unions were created with the idea that their workers were worth more than they were being paid. I don't think union-breakers or police intervention should have been used, but I also don't see why the people who decided that gauranteeing a meal on their table was worth more to them then a slightly higher wage were ostracized, beaten, and sometimes killed. Every worker should, gasp, decide for themselves what they're willing to work for. Obviously everyone would like more money for what they do, but the economics of the situtation reveal how much a worker is actually worth to a company. When a company can't afford to pay union wages for all their workers, they hire less workers. When the goverment comes in and demands they hire more workers, the company loses profits, and often times, will need goverment assistance to stay in business. At this point capitilism becomes merely a veneer on socialism, and we all lose.

Won't ever happen (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21496449)

There can't really be an effective strike because so many games are created overseas, where writers aren't likely to be a part of WGA.

How about a game based on the Heroes TV series? (1)

Ang31us (1132361) | more than 6 years ago | (#21496463)

It can be 100% full-motion video of the Heroes characters with no gameplay at all...I feel like the contract dispute is cheating us out of the build-up to the conclusion this season. Ending the season next week feels kind of like having sex without foreplay, which is still lots fun, but lacking the slow-burning development we had last year.

I'm all for the writers getting the $$$ they deserve...the studios are doing everything they can to take down all of their material from p2p sites and YouTube so they can make $$$ from them (through advertising revenue on their own sites or iTunes store sales), while they tell the writers that Internet media has no value and makes them no $$$. The studios should just pay the writers appropriate royalties for their creative works, so we don't need to have an abbreviated season.

Because... (1)

popo (107611) | more than 6 years ago | (#21497055)

...being a starving writer wasn't bad enough?

oh noes! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21497839)

Now we'll never get a release date for Duke Nukem Forever!

The effect on the game industry. (1)

PhoenixOne (674466) | more than 6 years ago | (#21497967)

Jabs at bad writers aside, I'm interested on how the WGA covering video games could change the industry.

Like most programmers, its rare that video game programmers see any residuals for games they worked on. I'm not saying this isn't fair, I get paid for the work I do, but if game writers, voice talent, and artists all start getting a piece of the action why not programmers?

There are no residuals in games. (1)

joystickgenie (913297) | more than 6 years ago | (#21497991)

Wait a minute. Am I the only one who notices the stupidity in this? The Writers Guild of America strike is about writers getting paid residuals for DVD, New media profits. So during this strike the writers are going to go into an industry where there are no residual payments of any kind for original sales, compilation sales, and new media profits? The only people who make money of of those profits are the publishers. The writes has a better deal in script writing, at least there they get residuals for the primary profits of their work (syndication)
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