It Seems Crunch Is Killing The Games Industry! So How Do We Fix It?

Yesterday a former Naughty Dog employee Jonathan Cooper shared his reasoning for departing from the studio, once again sparking the age-old discussion of crunch time in the video game industry.

I’ve heard of these crunches in the past, how employees are expected to work ungodly hours to complete a game on time. And each time this topic comes up, people throw their hands in the air in disgust, only to forget about it a week later. I’m serious, this discussion will go on for another week and afterward, people will move unto other things that are trending.

If they really cared they wouldn’t purchase a game from a company that encourages so a horrible work environment. However, that’s not the world we live in. Jonathan Cooper shared what he’s learned during his time with Naughty Dog and while his experience has been fine, the same can not be said for his fellow co-workers who are animators for Naughty Dog

I was surprised to learn just how bad it was at Naughty Dog. From senior/junior ratio being out of wack to the game been released a year before, it sounds like working for Naughty Dog is hell. I was also surprised to hear that Naughty Dog had to hire actually filmmaker because no one from the gaming industry wants to work there. It seems their troubles are more deep-rooted than I initially thought.

If this type of work environment keeps up, the gaming industry might suffer a great collapse. The question now is how do we fix it? It was made clear during the interview that crunch time is not enforced or mandatory but peer pressured. You can leave when your shift is up, but if your colleagues are staying back to work on a game, you’ll either feel guilty or shunned by your peers, and no one wants that. I’ve heard talks unionizing but that clearly hasn’t happened yet.

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I thought maybe not announcing the date for their games, or the game itself would help levitate the pressures of trying to meet the deadline, however, investors are a thing and they want to know what a studio is doing. It’s a tough situation that’s for sure, but one that needs to be addressed.

Early I mentioned how people who are outraged about crunch should likely not purchase the games if they feel that the practice is unethical, however that too wouldn’t do much, but in fact, it could be devastating for the lives who work in that company. They could lose their jobs if the studio is not profitable and some people have families. The only “solution” I could think of is to do what Nintendo is doing.

Correct me if I’m wrong but I haven’t heard any bad news when it comes to working hours over at Nintendo. I know people make fun of Nintendo games (don’t know why cuz they awesome), but Nintendo seems to have it locked down when it comes to handling working hours for game development. Maybe take a page from them and adjust if needed.

Crunch time is something that just happens. It’s not great but sometimes it can’t be avoided, however, it is handled and compensated for accordingly then at least it’s a start. Let me know what you guys think about all this!

 

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