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  1. #1
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus b0rsuk's Avatar
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    Why your games are made by childless, 31 year old white men

    There's an interesting article at PA:
    http://www.penny-arcade.com/report/a...d-how-one-stud

    Choice quotes:
    Did you know if you don't claim to work 80 hours a week, potential investors will probably shun you? You don't even get the respect from some of your peers in game development who think that not working crazy hours is ‘lazy,’” he explained. “Those are the people who put pressures onto others to work more hours. The same people who will please their leads most and go up the ladder eventually, to feed this vicious cycle of immaturity. You are correct about developers being stunted teenagers. I've worked with them long enough to admit that.”
    (...)
    That’s only part of the issue, however. Working those hours, and being stuck in that environment is only attractive for a very short time, and Boucher-Vidal claimed that the average life-span of someone in the game industry is around 5 years. “The real problem however is not that they are immature when they get in, but that too often they get out once they reach maturity,” he said.
    (...)
    “I'd say the stance of most people is that yes it sucks, yes it's a problem, but that there is nothing you can do to help it, that it's a necessary evil to make good games,” he told the Report. “The worst part being that they will do it even for bad games, which invalidates this excuse in most cases,” he said.

    “I think that the real issue is that those who actually want it to be this way, and they do exist, are chasing away some very talented developers who would want a more balanced life,” Boucher-Vidal said.
    As usual, more intelligent comments at Hacker News:
    https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5551771
    pass

  2. #2
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Jesus_Phish's Avatar
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    Sounds about the same for almost all development industries not just gaming.
    "Halo is designed to make the player think "I look like that, I am macho sitting in my undies with my xbox""

    Steam ID

  3. #3
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Heliocentric's Avatar
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    Are their many companies where these statements are false? Are their plenty of indie developers who don't do crunch time? 80 hour work schedules are fine for a zombie labour force, but to then expect creativity?

    Yeah, this raises questions, ty for the post.
    I'm failing to writing a blog, specifically about playing games the wrong way
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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Heliocentric View Post
    Are their many companies where these statements are false? Are their plenty of indie developers who don't do crunch time? 80 hour work schedules are fine for a zombie labour force, but to then expect creativity?

    Yeah, this raises questions, ty for the post.
    Those indies also are less in numbers of staff (but not impact or games I agree). So when talking about overall staffing or the overall industry, then the bigger companies would be, well, bigger.

    I guess it's similar in factory work. The factories get a spread of ages and types of people, but they still ask for unsocial hours or long contracts (or supermarkets do the opposite, and give low hour contracts, which makes it hard for those who need full time work). This can mean that you only attract a social group or whatever that can fulfill the ridiculous requirements. Especially as these things as not linked to the skill of the worker. 1 worker doing 80 hours can be the same as 2 doing 40 hours, but the 2 doing 40 hours get to see their family...

  5. #5
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Drake Sigar's Avatar
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    Oh yeah, it's as bad as the wrestling business and basically verges on slave labour.

  6. #6
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Zephro's Avatar
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    We actively discourage it here to make an actually attractive place to work.

  7. #7
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Heliocentric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zephro View Post
    We actively discourage it here to make an actually attractive place to work.
    "Here"? Wherezat?
    I'm failing to writing a blog, specifically about playing games the wrong way
    http://playingitwrong.wordpress.com/

  8. #8
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Drake Sigar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Heliocentric View Post
    "Here"? Wherezat?
    We all work for RPS Incorporated. I'm Head of Marketing, Zephro is Internal Contracts, and you're the Coffee Boy.

  9. #9
    Lesser Hivemind Node Kaira-'s Avatar
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    80 hours? Holy fuck. And here I thought Japan's work ethos was insane.

  10. #10
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    ::RANT::
    Happens in most creative roles, Its the same here in Design studios, especially at entry levels. The attitude goes along the lines of "you're lucky to work here, doing something you enjoy, and we're doing you favour for the privilege", when it should be "We require your skillset, and you and your passion and insight is valuble."

    I regularly see people being questioned and made to feel guilty (not to mention paranoid) for "not pulling there weight" because they're not working unpaid overtime.

    It makes me sick.

    Don't even get me start on the Internship Culture. I've known people who have worked for free, for over a year, with no guarantee of a contract, because "thats what you're supposed to do to get ahead"

    I think that it should be drilled into people at study level that that kind of professional treatment is absolutley unacceptable and they should learn some self respect.

    ... but meh, at least I'm not working in film, thats really cut-throat.
    ::RANT::

  11. #11
    Network Hub Koobazaur's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TomxJ View Post
    ... but meh, at least I'm not working in film, thats really cut-throat.
    ::RANT::
    Ugh so true, i worked in both and while games were more of "shit we messed up scheduling guess its crunch mode, but ya all are used to it right?" Film is more like "id like to bestow the great privilage of working for me for free, you lucky dog you! Think how great this will look on your reel and once the BIG UNNAMED NETWORK picks us up suuuure we will call you again!"
    Last edited by Koobazaur; 17-04-2013 at 06:15 AM.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Koobazaur View Post
    Ugh so true, i worked in both and while games were more of "shit we messed up scheduling guess its crunch mode, but ya all are used to it right?" Film is more like "id like to bestow the great privilage of working for me for free, you lucky dog you! Think how great this will look on your reel and once the BIG UNNAMED NETWORK picks us up suuuure we will call you again!"
    My girlfriend works in film and I really do not envy all that politicing.

    "BUT THINK OF HOW IT WILL LOOK IN YOUR PORTFOLIO!" People have said that to me in job interviews when i was fresh out of uni, which is scary as it means companies expect to be able to get away with that sort of explotation.

    Speaking of free work though, lol, you ready to send me any briefs yet? I'm still happy to help.

  13. #13
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    I think there's something odd going-on when I see articles like this - there's an agenda behind it and I'm not keen on it at-all.

    What we're seeing, for the most part, are the outlying cases and the extreme examples of stuff because, for some reason, some people want to yell "LOOK AT HOW BAD THIS IS".

    ANY creative endeavour which has a fixed deadline will have crunch. I know from first-hand experience it happens in 'non-game' software development, all forms of construction, food preparation, public service contract fullfillment and even that arcane art which is 'painting people's pets". I'm currently trying to finish my first "it's got a deadline" book and it's probably going to happen here because that's just how deadlines work - esp ones set by outside agencies.

    How much crunch there is depends on the scale of the project and the quality (or lack of it) of project management. I once worked 14-hours-a-day for 4 weeks because someone wrote "copy across data from legacy system to new system" in the project plan and didn't assign it any time and no-one noticed. I also worked 90 hours in a week because I was developing a game solo and just wanted the fucking thing done.

    As for who's doing it, if you visit a gaming show you'll see a wide range of people playing and making games. If you look at the industry as-a-whole, you'll see a huge range of ages, races, nationalities and plenty of women in there too so I really have no idea why people keep bringing the 'white men' argument up and I don't think it's constructive at all (outside of the general white-collar industry preference for educated people - see college admissions).

    p.s. the childless bit is also stupid given almost every AAA game has a "This game's babies" section in the credits ;)
    Last edited by trjp; 16-04-2013 at 11:15 AM.

  14. #14
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Lukasz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trjp View Post
    I know from first-hand experience it happens in 'non-game' software development,
    but it is not the norm is it? I read about how nongame developers have crunch times at specific parts of development. Not constantly.
    While game development does not really have crunch time because you supposed to work 80 hours a week. thats a standard.

    wasn't there an article of some big shot guy saying that he even pays people for working on Saturday? Like it is a big thing?

  15. #15
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Zephro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lukasz View Post
    but it is not the norm is it? I read about how nongame developers have crunch times at specific parts of development. Not constantly.
    While game development does not really have crunch time because you supposed to work 80 hours a week. thats a standard.

    wasn't there an article of some big shot guy saying that he even pays people for working on Saturday? Like it is a big thing?
    No it doesn't. There is crunch time close to a release and only if the schedule was badly project managed and it seems like project management is getting steadily better.

    Most the game devs here leave at normal times, by leave I mean go to the pub.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zephro View Post
    No it doesn't. There is crunch time close to a release and only if the schedule was badly project managed
    Well, only if it's a bad project manager anyway. A good project manager can completely fluff the schedule and still avoid crunch - you bring in contractors and pay them from a non-project related budget ....

    Although I suspect with the inexperience of most game devs, they haven't yet mastered the art of gouging overtime clauses in the employment contract either.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zephro View Post
    No it doesn't. There is crunch time close to a release and only if the schedule was badly project managed and it seems like project management is getting steadily better.
    Well I've been clean of professional software development for a decade now - but the last 5 projects I worked all had 'crunch' of some sort and my bro-in-law still does this and his work-week is 70 hours and will be for at least the next 8 months (money's good but his daughter has no idea who he is).

    The one which made me walk away I worked for 6 months. The project was overdue when I arrived, 6 months later the deadline arrived and we were half done and 120% over budget!

    I and 12 others on that accepted redundancy from our base office at that point - it was really the only sensible option - despite the fact the project needed all of use for at least another year. The whole thing imploded the week after I got my cheque and legged-it.

    I now live in seclusion in North East England where I work for good causes only - no superhero costume - definately no crunch...

    p.s. the important thing to learn is that despite the collapse, the company we worked for and the client both sold the whole thing as a success - understanding how and why that happened is key to understanding why the world is so fucked...

  18. #18
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    If you engineer in the failure, it does not make it any better. If you set up a system that 1) requires a deadline or 2) cannot meet the deadline without inhumane "crunch" then who is at fault for setting up such a project?

    I'd agree it's only a problem of the studios it effects. Is anyone saying it's all games and all places?

  19. #19
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus thegooseking's Avatar
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    It is stupid. The attitude of "Let's just have them work more hours" assumes a consistent work-per-hour rate, which absolutely isn't going to happen because that's not how people work. People get tired, and their work-rate slips. I'd say that someone working 80 hours a week is averaging less than half the work-per-hour of someone working 40 hours a week, meaning they actually get less done in a week.

    The drive to have people work fewer hours isn't all liberal and compassionate; it's also about making sure your workforce is physically capable of working at peak efficiency. Good project management will take that into account, and I agree with what others have said about crunch and long hours being a result of mismanagement.
    Last edited by thegooseking; 16-04-2013 at 11:52 AM.
    "Moronic cynicism is a kind of naïveté. It's naïveté turned inside-out. Naïveté wearing a sneer." -Momus

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by thegooseking View Post
    It is stupid. The attitude of "Let's just have them work more hours" assumes a consistent work-per-hour rate, which absolutely isn't going to happen because that's not how people work. People get tired, and their work-rate slips. I'd say that someone working 80 hours a week is averaging less than half the work-per-hour of someone working 40 hours a week, meaning they actually get less done in a week.

    The drive to have people work fewer hours isn't all liberal and compassionate; it's also about making sure your workforce is physically capable of working at peak efficiency. Good project management will take that into account, and I agree with what others have said about crunch and long hours being a result of mismanagement.
    This. My boss has a favourite anecdote about this. I can't remember the details, but it involves Siemens taking over some factory in the UK which was under-performing but in which members of staff were working crazy hours. They reduced workers hours to the norm and increased the output of the factory by 20%. As you say, it's lazy thinking to simply keep piling in working hours to increase productivity. The average person is supposedly productive for 20 minutes out of every hour sat at their desk. The answer to that isn't yet more draconian workplace restrictions, it's to design working practice in sympathy with the way human beings actually work.

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