Ashley Ruhl is a narrative and cinematic designer with over 8 years of experience at studios such as Telltale Games, Trion Worlds, Gunfire Games and BioWare Austin. She develops game stories from script to screen using compelling character performances, creative player verbs and intuitive camera design. Her continuing career goal is to tell engaging interactive narrative that empowers the player to be the author of their own story.
The game industry is losing experienced workers to the scarcity of remote positions, as many would rather leave the industry than have to move every 1-3 years or live in expensive, crowded locales. By taking advantage of existing technology and slightly revising worker management techniques, it is absolutely possible to allow for more remote workers in the game industry.
When it comes to building a more inclusive industry, remote work enables skilled people with disabilities and caregiving responsibilities to remain in the industry. It also empowers marginalized team members to contribute without having to contend with cliques and undocumented microaggressions. By working with remote employees, companies can seek out the expertise of native speakers around the world without having to internationally relocate or contend with a country's visa and entrance policies.
The following is a list of common issues that companies cite as “reasons they won’t allow remote work” as well as proposed solutions we will share and discuss during the presentation:
- They are convinced that the “Writers’ Room” collaboration can’t happen remotely. Due to widespread access to existing digital technology, they’re wrong. Just because “the way we’ve done it has always worked” does not mean it automatically won’t work any other way.
- Issues with documentation. Working remotely improves documentation, as there are electronic paper trails in the form of emails, Slack messages, electronic chats, Basecamp/Trello updates, and follow-up notes from teleconferences.
- Inadequate supervision. If a company has delegated onboarding, clear task expectations, and structured digital communication, remote work can be held to the same standards as in-house. The challenge is building discipline in current communication practices.
- Company tools and security. All the panelists have installed company tools on their local machines with confirmed security measures. In other cases, it’s as simple as using cloud-based tools that are accessible via password.
- The applicant is unproven as a remote worker. Even people who have worked remotely with success for years sometimes have an issue with a company being willing to trust that they are able to do their job remotely. And for people who want to work remotely but never have: how are they supposed to GET experience if nobody will give it to them? With deadlines and other clear milestones, it should be easy for anyone to prove their ability to telecommute, or show that they aren’t cut out for it.
- “The culture suffers.” As the game industry matures, employees want separation between their work and their social life. The definition of studio culture needs to shift from “social compatibility” to “workplace compatibility”, and remote work can help that shift by enforcing standards in digital studio communication. Healthy digital communication can also empower workers who might not feel comfortable speaking up in physical spaces, creating more diversity of voices in the room. Time difference. Many remote workers are happy to adjust to a company’s core hours, while some companies are flexible enough to arrange an individualized work schedule.