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Dev shares real talk about the personal costs of living in fear of layoffs

Dev shares real talk about the personal costs of living in fear of layoffs

March 6, 2019 | By Emma Kidwell

It's no secret that the industry needs to see a massive shift in order to quell developer anxiety over job stability where there's often no safety net to support laid-off workers.   

Game developer Katie Chironis details the times she lived in constant fear of losing her job, which isn't unreasonable given the industry's track record of laying off its workers.

As an added bonus, Chironis and her husband are both developers, adding an extra layer of pressure should one of them lose their jobs. "We have our dream jobs, in theory," she writes.

"But neither one of us has ever worked for a company longer than three years, despite our best efforts. How do you have a stable life in an industry which doesn’t seem to offer one?"

To Chironis, only being able to plan a year ahead (as opposed to many years) because of work uncertainty was normal. It goes without saying that it shouldn't be anybody's normal.

She landed her first job in the industry at Microsoft Game Studios in 2013.

"We were part of a group of 'new grad' employees who had been hired to bring fresh talent to departments throughout Xbox, with the goal that many of us would become lifetime employees," Chironis explains.

"We all worked hard; this sort of job had always been the dream, and here we were. Things were fantastic for a few months. It didn’t last."

Whispers of re-orginization began to spread around the office, and Chironis wasn't sure what it meant, but knew enough to be scared.

"Management called our entire group of new grads into a conference room to let us know we would be let go at the end of our first year," she writes.

"Microsoft had funded this hiring program but then, somewhere in all those calculations and re-assessments of profit and loss in the following months, it had been scrapped."

Chironis explains how she and her peers had been promised careers, growth, and mentorship under Microsoft. Most of the original group of devs she had worked with aren't even involved in games anymore. 

"That sort of experience sticks with you. It was my first time being laid off in the games industry."

And it wouldn't be the last. Be sure to check out the entire piece over at Polygon, where Chironis goes into more detail about her previous layoffs. It's important, and well worth the read. 

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