I’ve wondered about this for a while, I think you can find some parallel in other creative fields, like popular musicians and to a lesser extent other screen stars who’s lives become badly or barely managed stress and drama festivals.
But the videogame industry seems somewhat unique, in how willing and even eager the grunt workers are to slave away, to a degree at stark odds with the relative compensation in the given social context. Then again you could probably find more parallel in the burgeoning days of cinema and the recording industry, when the sheer excitement of the scene is just that attractive, and people are tripping over each other to be a part of it.
What is distinct is that it’s not like everyone in Hollywood hoping to be a movie star, or starting a garage band expecting to become a rock star and get all the chicks. Videogames are almost anti-narcissistic by contrast, for at least a couple decades there was never anything ‘cool’ about being a gamer, much less with the laydees…
The pure escapism of gaming, there is a selfless component, it’s about sharing an idea and a creation I think. Videogames are the new virtual monuments, of an abstract religion indeed - or like an abstraction of an abstraction. It is the heartless and soulless capitalism side of the equation, implacably exploiting something which is mostly all heart and soul; that is the tension reaching a breaking point now I think. I have little sympathy to give for any face of the industry as a collective though, even the creatives. As individuals yes I feel for their plight, but as individuals each has also chosen to give in to the seduction of this beast, diving willingly into its gullet. Naughty Dog is a freaking poster boy dev for the mainstreamification trajectory as well, exemplifying style over substance since the start imo - which is not to say their games have no substance per se, but if you are going to give them (deserved) credit for always pushing technological and production boundaries, then this seems rather an instance of being hoist by their own petard to me. ND forged it’s own climate of expectation if any dev has.