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    Crunch in the Video Game Industry
    • Mod Note: The original title addressed crunch at Epic Games specifically, but in the interest of opening the discussion to crunch in the video game industry in general the title has been edited


      Yes. You heard me. In the recent months(and possibily near the end of 2018) Epic games is officially overworking their workers 70 hours a week on an insane work crunch.
      Sources:
      fortniteintel.com/epic-employe…ane-hours-fortnite/16350/
      polygon.com/2019/4/23/18507750…te-work-crunch-epic-games

      This is huge bullcrap. Honestly, the fact that epic games even does this at all is just terrible. Not only is fortntie addicting and (maybe) corrupting youth (ok fine, I play fortnite on switch but still, come on) but epic gmes makes their workers do insane shifts just to produce a new gun or get the new season out.

      I don't know about you guys, but I'm starting to think epic games isn't as great as we thought.
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      The post was edited 1 time, last by Viajero de la Galaxia ().

    • Yeah, crunch time sucks but it's sadly not exclusive to Epic at all. Even Nintendo (or should I say, as a Japanese company especially Nintendo) expects long, long hours with very few days off, especially before the launch of a new game. Valve does it, Epic Does it, Blizzard/Activision definitely do it, it's just the reality of the business.

      Does it have to stay this way? Not really, but unions are such a boogeyman in the United States right now that it's unlikely to change within the next few years. Maybe I'm just being pessimistic about this though. There's been a few attempts the last half decade, but none that stuck.
    • We mainly just need to eliminate the need for sleep in the human race.
      Therefore, this problem can be fixed yet we cant fix it yet. We need to find a gene that kills the need for sleep and allows games to be made quicker (and workers being happy a bit to not need to sleep. They still get time off, and still be able to not be late for work via an alarm not working)

      I still cant believe the big companies still do this, its a shame.
      Its still really sad to think off missed family reuinions, missed weddings, missed soccer practices, birthdays, etc. There needs to be a way to work at home to still be able to spend time with family.
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      The post was edited 1 time, last by GodHimself ().

    • The personal accounts I've read from some people in the industry are rather harrowing: BioWare in particular has to use military terminology to describe the levels of stress their employees experience, they call them "stress causalities". The fact that video game developers and publishers resort to describing their employee's stress levels in a manner similar to those of soldiers in warzones is appalling, and it's honestly a form of abuse. I know some people will read that and think "nah, you're just being dramatic" but when doctors are mandating 3-months or more of medical leave because of stress related to deadlines for video game development, it really is abuse.


      GodHimself wrote:

      We mainly just need to eliminate the need for sleep in the human race.
      Therefore, this problem can be fixed yet we cant fix it yet. We need to find a gene that kills the need for sleep and allows games to be made quicker (and workers being happy a bit to not need to sleep. They still get time off, and still be able to not be late for work via an alarm not working)

      Is this tongue-in-cheek?



      The post was edited 2 times, last by Viajero de la Galaxia ().

    • HeroOfTime5 wrote:

      What’s the max number of hours someone should work in a week?
      People have died just so that a 40 hour work week could be a thing.

      These companies get away with 70+ hour weeks because most programmers are salaried, meaning no matter how much overtime they work, they will always make the same amount. The way gaming companies can fix this is by simply hiring more programmers, but there is also a profit motive (one extra programmer hired means one year's salary less in profits for shareholders) that prevents management from hiring.
    • urnotlikeme wrote:

      HeroOfTime5 wrote:

      What’s the max number of hours someone should work in a week?
      People have died just so that a 40 hour work week could be a thing.
      These companies get away with 70+ hour weeks because most programmers are salaried, meaning no matter how much overtime they work, they will always make the same amount. The way gaming companies can fix this is by simply hiring more programmers, but there is also a profit motive (one extra programmer hired means one year's salary less in profits for shareholders) that prevents management from hiring.
      I believe that for any job, you need About 8-10 hours a day for 4-5 days a week. The average Hours a week in the U.S is 44-50 hours, so 11 hours a day. If you work 40 hours, 10 hours a day for 4 days a week.

      Anyone else realize that today, most crossing guards and even pizza chefs make ALMOST the same amount of money per hour/salaried(9-11 dollars an hour, I cant really do math for salaried.)

      Game designers and programmers make much more, and they probably also get that sweet sweet discount on any game related to the company they want.
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      The post was edited 1 time, last by GodHimself ().

    • GodHimself wrote:

      I believe that for any job, you need About 8-10 hours a day for 4-5 days a week.
      That depends entirely on whether you are waged or salaried. Usually for waged employees, that limit is strictly 40 hours, since if you work any more, company has to pay time and a half for each hour past the limit (but government usually doesn't mind paying the overtime). Legally, you only have to work 30, 35, or 37.5, depending on the state, to be considered full time. If you're salaried, that hourly work week gets abused a lot. I've worked in many restaurants where the managers will end up working 60+ hour weeks and do a majority of the cleaning/opening just because ownership realized it was cheaper to force the salaried manager to do more of the work than to pay a waged employee overtime.

      The post was edited 1 time, last by urnotlikeme ().

    • urnotlikeme wrote:

      People have died just so that a 40 hour work week could be a thing.
      These companies get away with 70+ hour weeks because most programmers are salaried, meaning no matter how much overtime they work, they will always make the same amount. The way gaming companies can fix this is by simply hiring more programmers, but there is also a profit motive (one extra programmer hired means one year's salary less in profits for shareholders) that prevents management from hiring.

      The problem lies in the FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act), it grants a ton of exemptions for employers to get out of paying overtime. I'm not in the game industry, but I've worked jobs that were "FLSA exempt" (meaning salaried with no promise of overtime pay) and they all come with an expectation that you'll work 60-70+ h/week. A lot of white collar jobs operate like this, the only exception I found is when you work for the government. In my experience, government positions tend to be "FLSA nonexempt" which means that you are salaried but earn overtime for hours worked over 40.

      Of course the game development industry is 100% private sector so this is irrelevant. It's an uphill battle, but the best thing game development employees can do is unionize.

      Also I know we have some ZUers who are in the game industry, I'd be curious to know what their experiences have been like if they're comfortable sharing.



      The post was edited 1 time, last by Viajero de la Galaxia ().

    • Please Understand wrote:

      Happens in every single AAA company*.
      That's not actually true. Not ALL of them have much or any crunch, and there is a big spectrum of how bad the crunch is.

      My experience with crunch in the game industry:
      0. When I was in college, I would typically work 60-80 weeks on homework and student projects towards the end of my semesters, and for pretty much the entirety of my senior year I worked at least 50 hours every week from the beginning of each semester.
      1. I was a tester for 1 year at Turbine for Dungeons & Dragons Online. I crunched for a couple weeks in a row, a couple times. These were 50-60 weeks, and I was an hourly employee.
      2. I was a designer for 1 year on DDO as well. In that time I did a couple 60 hours weeks, and 3-4 ~50 hour weeks. These were spread out. I was salaried.
      3. I was a designer for 2 years at Turbine on Infinite Crisis. I did very light crunch, 45-50 hour weeks, for about 8 months. I wasn't explicitly ordered to do this, but felt like I had to to deliver my work on time. Then I was laid off. I was salaried.
      4. I've now been at Bungie for 3.5 years. I've only crunched a little bit, a month and a half or so of 45-50 hour weeks that I decided to do on my own because I had an opportunity to make something cool and I wanted to succeed beyond just the bare minimum. There was some pressure to do that as well, but I feel like that was mostly my choice. I am salaried. In my experience, modern-day Bungie barely ever crunches, and when it does it's for very short periods of time to finish a specific business critical goal before a deadline, and it's only specific people or teams that can contribute to that goal. There may be individuals or subsets of people that have had bad crunch though that I'm not aware of, we're a big company.

      Of those, the only one that felt truly terrible was the crunch on Infinite Crisis. It felt fine for awhile, but by the end of it I was fatigued all the time, my marriage was falling apart (mostly for other reasons, but probably exacerbated or hastened by the crunch), and I had new chronic health problems that were probably not caused by it but were certainly exacerbated by it. I was also very sick for a week right after I was laid off. I had also neglected a lot of things - fallen behind on personal goals outside of work, routine medical appointments, car maintenance, cleaning my apartment, seeing my family, etc. Oh, and did I mention I was laid off at the end?

      The industry has a crunch problem and has for a long long time. It's better than it used to be, it's not universal, and I have personally avoided the worst of it.


      Crunch works ok in very short bursts to achieve specific goals, or for slightly longer bursts if the work is really routine, requires basically no creative problem solving, and has strong quality control backing it. But there's a lot of research that shows that people who are overworked tend to exhibit a lot of inefficiencies:
      1. After a couple days of working long hours they've slowed down and make more mistakes, enough that it's stopped being a net benefit. This is especially true for creative work or work that requires creative problem solving.
      2. Tired people can't think outside the box as well.
      3. If someone crunches for Z days, it generally takes Z*2 days for them to recover back to normal after they stop.

      A month of crunch with creative work will only turn out marginally more work than a normal month, but that work will be lower quality, more buggy, and less creative, and that employee will continue to turn out lower quality work for several weeks to a month afterwards.
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      The post was edited 1 time, last by Max N. ().

    • It might not be equally bad but it's still bad. I am against it in principle. I have never worked weekends and never will. If they have a problem with that, I will find a better paid job that has no overtime and far more benefits.

      So far I haven't had to do a lot of crunch, at worst 45-50 hours like you - but other departments have, particularly art, QA and script. I don't feel obliged to work just as hard, though, I will do my job and that's it. If they paid me (1.5-2x extra per hour as it is for overtime), I would have absolutely no issues working my ass off, but that doesn't happen. You are expected to work extra for free, because reasons.

      Programmers working in the games industry are literally making their companies a favour by working here. We can all find much better jobs if we want to. We are here because we love games, but there's only so much shit I'm gonna put up with. Gaming companies are literally exploiting their workforce because most of us are passionate about games and don't want to move over to a generic software development job.
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