I only just recently joined and noticed this post (not entirely sure if you're still viewing this section though considering it's been about 2weeks since your post). I'm mostly into the art end of the research into the game industry, but there are some good general purpose sites out there that may help you get a jump on some of the information you're looking to gather.
General useful sites:
International Game Developers Association: http://www.igda.org/
A site for game developers worldwide meet and organize and discuss, accepting of those simply interested in the industry, all the way to seasoned industry vets. Has many useful articles and papers related to the industry in its current, as well as historic, state.
This is a site tied to the periodical "Game Developer" Magazine. It has information about jobs, education, current industry trends, news, etc. Free Registration required to view much of the information, some areas are limited to pay registration (but honestly you usually won't need any of the pay stuff).
The Entertainment Software Association: http://www.theesa.com/
Not as useful as the other two links, but if you're in the US you can find some statistical information here as well as some superficial info. This one really is only if you have free time on your hands or want to get involved in the legal aspects of the industry. (In the past this site has been known to provide very biased information).
Another useful piece of literature:http://www.gamecareerguide.com/features/26...ndustry_job.php
It is also a good idea, to go and scan through job openings at your favorite game studios - some are more open about these listings than others, but scanning through the jobs that interest you will give you an idea on what you need to do to get that job.
As with the art industry in game development, the working conditions will vary widely from company to company for programmers - some are very hard on crunch times, others are fairly smooth sailing with minimal crunch. It is not really an industry-wide standard on working conditions with the exception that despite popular belief - game development is a real job, and is not easy. Programmers are also sought after for more than just work on the actual video games, so keep an eye out for that.
Hope that helps you out.
PS - hop on board working on some mods, if you are able to produce good mods (good enough to list on a resume or send in a demo of) - it will help with the 'experience' requirement many studios have.