Maybe We're Not So Rubbish After All

Wow. It's easy to have eagle eyes when calling out the flaws and problems in the world you work in but sometimes it takes startling fuck ups in related industries to appreciate the near impossible things that actually get done right.

On the way into work I was reading this article on the New Yorker about the launch troubles of http://healthcare.gov the web portal to help US citizens get reasonably priced health insurance.

This is staggering. Post 9/11 the FBI contracted S.A.I.C to update their information systems from a highly antiquated software suite that didn't even allow agents to share pictures to a system that'd help rather than hinder investigation into big cases. The project was initially scoped as costing $12m. It's not that unusual for software projects to test their budgets but the eventual cost? An amazing $600m. Even worse the project was canned in 2005. Amazing.

In games there's a lot if self flagellation about poor project management practises, antiquated development methodologies. The baseline assumption seems to be everything is wrong and there's likely a better way, maybe already practised in "proper software development"

But that said a 500 fold increase in budget for a system that never shipped? It's a whole new world of fuck up and surprisingly not a unique or even unusual story. Last year Standish estimated an annual cost of large scale failed software projects of $55bn with only 33% of the projects surveyed able to be classed as a success. It's not just localised to the states either; there are massive problems for our own Universal Credit system as well.

Every year the games industry deliver increasingly compels software in a pretty timely manner close to budgetary constraints. And because of platform cert constraints on console the projects delivered are relatively bug free. Improvement is important but sometimes we should also take the time to acknowledge there's a lot of magic being made in our world that the rest of the software development industry would find hard to match

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