Jason Schreier is synonymous with video game crunch. Click on a report about a studio and their crunch culture, and you will surely see Schreier’s name attached. He’s helped open up public discussion about working conditions within the industry. Even if not much has changed, it’s helped shine a light on the draining work developers put into making games for everyone to enjoy.
In his first book, Blood, Sweat, and Pixels: The Triumphant, Turbulent Stories Behind How Video Games Are Made, Schreier took readers through the entire development process behind modern games. It was an eye opening read, really emphasizing how games, almost miraculously (through hard work by the developers), come together right at the end of development. It should be required reading for anyone who plays games as their hobby.
If Blood, Sweat, and Pixels is about games, his follow up book, Press Reset: Ruin and Recovery in the Video Game Industry, is about the humans and the companies that make them.
Press Reset dives deep into the history of studios, the people who run them, the people who work at them, and the consequences of making games. Schreier doesn’t just discuss a studio’s final game, he paints a complete picture for the reader. In the first chapter discussing development of Epic Mickey, Schreier first tells the reader of the history of Warren Spector. How his past led him to starting the studio Junction Point, and the story of aquestition to closure as a result. It’s effective, empathetic storytelling.
The book is a fascinating look into an industry so many want to be a part of, but in many ways it serves as a cautionary warning to those who want to enter. Press Reset never discourages the readers away from the games industry, but my constant reaction was uneasiness over how most within it are treated.
The nine chapters are varied, and provide glimpses into multiple studios and development of multiple games. These include, Epic Mickey, Irrational Games, Bioshock Infinite, The Flame in the Flood, 2K Marin, Dead Space, Visceral Games, 38 Studios, Big Huge Games, and Mythic Entertainment. Schreier also ends the book on a few suggestions and questions on how to move the industry past the current trend.
Much like Blood, Sweat, and Pixels, Press Reset should be required reading. If you’re a fan of video games or someone wanting to join the industry, Jason Schreier has ripped open the carefully crafted cover to the games industry, baring it for all to see. It’s not always pretty, but it is educational. Press Reset is a valuable tool for fans and job seekers alike to learn more about a usually hidden aspect of their beloved hobby.