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How crunch is more than a labor issue in the video game industry

How crunch is more than a labor issue in the video game industry

January 18, 2018 | By Emma Kidwell

"They are expected to just dig deep into their passion for making games and overlook how their passion for their profession and their specific project is being exploited to cover poor management practices."

- Former executive director of the IGDA Kate Edwards on the game industry's attitude about crunch.

A piece recently published by Game Informer features interviews from various people working in the game industry, discussing a massive labor problem that has been plaguing developers for years: crunch.

"Crunch has been prevalent in the games industry for decades, and while it’s not unique to the games industry, it has become a negative practice that has perpetuated for too long," explains former executive director of the IGDA Kate Edwards. "It burns people out, discourages them from continuing in the industry, and has seriously negative effects on physical, mental, and social health."

A survey conducted by the IGDA in 2015 found that 62 percent of developers said their jobs involved crunch and of those nearly one-third said crunch meant 50-59 hours of work a week. A 2014 IGDA survey found the most common reason for developers leaving the video game industry was "poor quality of life.

Krzysztof Nosek, the multiplayer programming lead on Call of Juarez: The Cartel discusses how crunch forced him to take a step back and reflect on the repercussions. Not only was it bad for his physical and mental health, but it was affecting his personal life. "In retrospect you see the different directions that you and the world around you have taken, and you must judge whether it was worth it or not," Nosek says. "It's a tough moment that can quite often bring bouts of depression or low morale – the infamous 'post-crunch realizations,' as they are known."

What steps can studios take to avoid crunch? Is it that easy? It turns out the the problem isn't entirely black and white after considering studio culture and the desire to be a team player so no one is let down. "Most, if not all of these people are your colleagues first and foremost so that communal peer pressure plays a much greater role in getting you to push than the decisions coming down from the hierarchy," admits Nosek. 

So what do these developers suggest when it comes to abolishing crunch? Check out the entire interview over at Game Informer.

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