A Documentary About British Game Dev

By Jim Rossignol on March 25th, 2011 at 2:30 pm.

I remember television! So quaint.
I’ve often idly remarked that it’d be lovely (by way of fascinating) if someone made a documentary, or a even documentary series, about some of the more unusual aspects of British game development. Headlight Pictures have gone and done precisely that. Crunchtime, a three-part series which which will first air on Sunday 27th, at 7:25am, on Channel 4, examines the Dare To Be Digital competition run by the University of Abertay, Dundee. It continues across two more weekends, detailing the various dramas which face the student teams in their quest to develop splendid videogames. It ends, of course, in actual crunchtime.

Obviously this’ll turn up in 4oD later on, too, but people tuning in will definitely help future game documentary exploits! Logo image thanks to Craig Hastings / Headlight Pictures.

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21 Comments »

  1. cliffski says:

    7.25am on a sunday?
    How did they swing such a peak slot? …
    bah etc.

  2. Inigo says:

    but people tuning in will definitely help future game documentary exploits!

    …Wrote Jim, fighting back bitter tears of denial.

  3. Terragot says:

    Having done my fair amount of crunch time, I can’t say I’m giddy at the prospect of watching other people do it. Unless, of course by some miracle, this raises awareness to what it is like to work in the games industry. Repetitive task being tippy-tapped away behind a desk clapped out with superhero memorabilia. The phone conversations with wives and loved ones who can’t get their head around why anyone would work till 3 in the morning and are convinced you are having an affair so it’s fair game for them. The blind hate from the testers. The blind optimism from the designers. The smug walks of the producers. And, lest not forget, the young female twenty-something who prattles about, stunning with her appearance, but confusing with what it is she actually does around here (some kind of Designer, Jeff?).
    Or maybe it will be all bean bags and free Pepsi, that could be cool too.

    • PanpipeSolo says:

      Maybe I should just watch the show when it’s on, but why do you do all of that stuff if it’s so terrible?

      Not trying to be facetious, genuinely interested.

    • Terragot says:

      Sorry, take my cynical outlook with a pinch of salt, it’s the Orwellian-anti-establishment-angsty-youth in me. It’s not that the job is bad, or that Crunch time is a pain (I’ve been in many other jobs where overtime has always been NECESSARY) and I believe that the 9 – 5 rarely exists these days – with things such as flexi, toil and shift work – but it’s the stigma attached to the industry that boils my bacon.

      It’s the fact that a lot of kids are diving into these incredibly niche university courses with no real skills being taught to them, and they blindly excuse it as ‘what they’ve always dreamed of doing’. That’s fine, but they fail to recognise that while their at school, they haven’t experience much other than a few alcohol fuelled nights feeling Tara’s tights (over the bra) and lazy Sundays in front of their favourite interactive media. No suprise then that it’s, from lack of worldly knowledge, what they’ve always dreamed of doing.

      They assume with this ‘what they’ve always dreamed of doing’ comes the fame and renown of being Miyamoto or Cliffy B (no kudus for cliffski with these folks, geddit kudos… :I) but it’s actually a rather down to earth environment, with the same rules as most other office jobs. Heck, alot sales environments have more ‘fun’ rewards to them. I guess what I’m trying to say is, it’s the stygma attached to the industry that bothers me. Explaining your job to people provokes two reactions; either “oh wow! That’s must be so much fun” or “aren’t video games for children…”. It wouldn’t be called work if it was fun.

      But this is just a ramble from someone who is generally overly opinionated and Cynical. and I’ve lost track of my reasoning…

      Again, with a pinch of salt.

    • DrGonzo says:

      Sounds like you don’t have any first hand experience of these courses that you are speaking about.

    • Terragot says:

      My point was how can you take a course in a subject matter where not only is the end result never the same, but the process for achieving these results are constantly changing with the hands of time. Universities are businesses, and I’m saying that it’s unfair and a bit agog to expect them to carry tomorrow new talent by themselves.

    • DrGonzo says:

      I appreciate your point and really, I agree. I just think you it sounded a bit harsh and aimed at the students as opposed to the courses themselves.

    • PanpipeSolo says:

      Your response is strange. It reads like a collection of angry feelings towards the video game industry as a whole. I can’t see how students attending infamous ‘Mickey Mouse’ degrees has anything to do with why you do crunching. I do agree with what you say about people’s dreams often differing with the reality of things but it’s barely relevant.

      Excuse me for going a bit ‘Question Time’ on you but I’ll ask the question again. Is it because you really enjoy the work? Because your boss expects you to work till 3am? Are you trying to save the game? Was it your fault the game got in to this state that requires crunch-time?

      I’m not sure what would drive me to alienate my own family, work late, hate and be hated by others… maybe if the entire product’s success and everyone’s jobs hinged on me, if that was true I’d demand a position and salary that reflected such responsibility – rather than angrily watch Producers stroll by. Or am I being a foolish, starry-eyed youth?

    • MarkN says:

      Man, if the testers hate you you’ve really got it wrong. QA are there to pick your work to fucking pieces and are therefore one of your greatest assets. QA are invaluable and under-appreciated. I try to make sure they know that every annoying little bastard bug that I’ve never seen before is appreciated. It’s (hopefully) one less that’ll make it into the final game. People telling you you’re work is great is smashing but not much use if they won’t also tell you what sucks. You’ll usually fall by what sucks, not by what’s great. That’s what QA are for and (IMO) that’s much more valuable. I’m generally in the ballpark on knowing what works well. I’m generally short of the mark on knowing what’s broken.

      Cutting to the chase, QA help me make better stuff – and that’s all I want to do. If you hate them or they hate you, IMO, something’s going wrong, and it’s probably not them, because they’re generally just doing what they’ve been told to do.

    • Weylund The Second says:

      @PanpipeSolo: “I’m not sure what would drive me to alienate my own family, work late, hate and be hated by others… maybe if the entire product’s success and everyone’s jobs hinged on me, if that was true I’d demand a position and salary that reflected such responsibility – rather than angrily watch Producers stroll by. Or am I being a foolish, starry-eyed youth?”

      Kinda, yeah. In an industry where there are probably fifty paper-qualified developers for every opening you’re rarely in a position to “demand” anything. Developers who can theoretically do your job, and want it bad, are a dime a dozen.

      Also – when you’re a software developer who is active in a project, the product’s success (and everyone’s jobs) always hinges on you to some extent. It actually makes a lot of business sense (for a big enough company) to get rid of people that make a lot of fuss and try to hire someone who will be newer and more easily controlled, precisely *because* they need to be able to trust you to do your job and be productive.

  4. The Sombrero Kid says:

    Dare usually has some really impressive stuff at it & it gets better every year, this’ll be a great watch i expect.

  5. Big Murray says:

    I’m sorry … does that time exist on a Sunday morning?

  6. Nick says:

    Surely only people tuning in with those ratings boxes will matter.. and online views would be better.

  7. godkingemperor says:

    there should be a real documentary about british devs, bemoaning their constant closure by the americans.

  8. Terragot says:

    whoops, wrong place.

  9. Archonsod says:

    I would watch it. But then I’d need to buy a TV License. And a TV. And probably some one to come and actually fit a TV antennae or something similar to the house.

  10. Smithers says:

    Just got back from work at 2am, crunch is awesome :[

    Having already done several 70-80 hour weeks in a row, and needing to go in tomorrow, I doubt I’ll be awake at 7:25am on Sunday.

    Almost there…

  11. Whitmore says:

    Is it strange that I read the title of this show as Crunchti Me?

  12. SpinalJack says:

    Just watched the show, totally should have stayed in bed XD

    It made me lol when the Realtime Worlds guy was talking about jobs in the industry