Giving Credit

According to Hollywood Reporter (via Digital Artist Management), Rockstar Games (of Grand Theft Auto fame) left 55 or so developers out of the game Manhunt 2's credits.

From the article:
Imagine working on a blockbuster film for 2-1/2 years and then being left out of the movie's end credits. It's not likely to happen because union contracts dictate giving credit where credit is due.

Now imagine working on a hit video game for 2-1/2 years and no one — not you, not anyone in your team of 55-plus developers — appears in the credits.

The article points out that Hollywood is unionized, and therefore has regulations to protect its members from this sort of thing, while the game industry is not.

Software developers should not find this surprising. Most software products give no recognition to its developers. Try finding the credits for any Microsoft, Yahoo, or Google product. At best, you'll find an easter egg that the developers snuck in themselves under the radar.

In the open source world, the opposite is true. This is quite obvious since open source developers often work only for the credit. So credit becomes that much more important, and visible.

If you're using Firefox, click on Help > About and you'll see a "Credits" button right there on the About page. Ruby on Rails has a link to a page listing its core developers on every page. Linux has a very Linux-like CREDITS file (although I couldn't find it in my Linux installation, and I had a surprisingly hard time finding Ubuntu's credits). Apache has easy-to-find credits on a project-by-project basis (including the famous web server).

What's particularly disturbing about the Rockstar story is that the game industry is one of the few software sectors that has credited those who have worked on it. So this is really a step backwards from the status quo. Software companies should be moving in the direction of giving more credit to those who work on their products, not less.


p.s. I hadn't even thought of developer credits for software until reading About Face 2.0: The Essentials of Interaction Design, which questions the current practice of not crediting developers.

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