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"The more players think games are worth devs being miserable in order to deliver them on time, the more we’re dehumanized."
- Monomi Park's Nick Popovich speaking to Waypoint about industry culture.
It's no secret that the game industry views crunch as a neccessary evil, where developers work themselves to the bone in order to make deadlines.
But it doesn't have to be like that, with changes being put into motion to give developers a healthier working environment and stability in case things go south.
Over at Monomi Park, the studio behind Slime Rancher, developers abided by 40-hour workweeks during the game's development.
In a recent interview with Waypoint, game director Nick Popovich discusses how it was possible.
According to Popovich, the 40-hour workweek is not written in any contracts at Monomi Park (which currently has 12 employees), but is part of a larger philosophy Popovich has on development.
“There are plenty of people out there with good intentions,” he says. “You see this all the time in the Bay Area. I think plenty of studios start with that as a goal, but they say ‘But, of course, in order to get started, to get our foot in the door, we're all going to have to crunch, we're all going to have to extend [and] overextend ourselves.'"
He credits his previous experience at both Castaway Entertainment and Three Rings Design as formative when it came to sticking with a 40-hour workweek and other responsibilities.
"Even in college," he explains, "I was aware of the brutal working conditions in the industry. When you're in college, it was called The Cave Lab, where you're making digital art in the dark with a bunch of other people who want to get into video games."
"You're spending all night working on things because you want to be the best and have the portfolio and everything. It's almost grooming you for that lifestyle."
“I really don’t want to give everyone the impression that the only reason Monomi Park provides a healthy environment for its staff is because we got lucky with a big hit," he goes on to say. "I feel strongly that we have a big hit because we have a healthy work/life balance."
Be sure to check out the entire interview over at Waypoint, which goes into more detail around labor conditions in the industry and Popovich's philosophy on crunch. It's well worth the read.