Atari: Game Over (2014)
This is a documentary, available on Netflix streaming, about Atari.
The best parts of the documentary are about the early days of Atari, how it operated, what the engineers who worked there were like.
(1) All of the game developers shown are nerdy young white men. Not a single Asian anywhere. Most of the men were skinny, pale skin, many had poorly trimmed beards. Classic nerds.
(2) The management structure was very bottom up. The engineers themselves had autonomy to design the games and program them. A single programmer would turn out a game in a few months.
This is totally unlike modern IT which is very top-down, with product managers and designers telling the code monkeys what they’re supposed to program. In some high-level language like Java or C#. Not like those early programmers at Atari who were programming in Assembly language, or even writing direct machine code without an assembler. No object-oriented crap, no unit tests, just pure hacking. (That’s a technical detail I’m filling in for you that wasn’t mentioned in the documentary.)
It think this demonstrates the amazing creativity and productivity that is unleashed when you get a much of smart nerdy white guys together and give them the autonomy to unleash their talents.
And they enjoyed themselves. The game developer featured in the documentary said no job after that ever compared to the fun and intensity of working at Atari. He recently became a psychotherapist, which is he says is the first job he liked since Atari.
Unfortunately, the majority of the documentary is not focused on the programmers at Atari, but rather on a current-day quest to dig up a garbage dump where millions of old Atari cartridges were believed to be buried. Who cares about that?
I suspect that the person or people who produced this documentary played videogames themselves but otherwise have no knowledge of either business or software development. They never explain exactly why Atari went out of business. I assume it’s because management massively expanded the business and hired thousands of unnecessary employees with correspondingly expensive office space, based on sales projections which turned out to be vastly overoptimistic. Or maybe they invested huge amounts of money in new projects that failed. But that’s just speculation. I could be wrong.