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16-04-2013, 08:46 AM #1
Why your games are made by childless, 31 year old white men
There's an interesting article at PA:
“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.
16-04-2013, 09:06 AM #2
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""
16-04-2013, 09:07 AM #3
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.
16-04-2013, 09:22 AM #4
Oh yeah, it's as bad as the wrestling business and basically verges on slave labour.
16-04-2013, 10:07 AM #5
- Join Date
- May 2012
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...
16-04-2013, 10:08 AM #6
We actively discourage it here to make an actually attractive place to work.
16-04-2013, 10:32 AM #7
16-04-2013, 10:34 AM #8
16-04-2013, 10:38 AM #9
16-04-2013, 10:50 AM #10
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.
16-04-2013, 11:09 AM #11
- Join Date
- Jun 2011
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.
16-04-2013, 11:19 AM #12
- Join Date
- May 2012
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?
16-04-2013, 11:28 AM #13
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?
16-04-2013, 11:43 AM #14
16-04-2013, 11:49 AM #15
- Join Date
- Jun 2011
- Three miles from the nearest bus stop
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.
16-04-2013, 11:59 AM #16
It's a complex problem. I think it's easy to see malicious agency at work when you read stories like this - you can't help but picture a malevolent mill owner working his labour force to death for profit. Truth is, it's not really about companies trying to wring every single ounce of productive energy from their employees. They don't want to turn their staff into the living dead. They want to be able to offer an attractive place to work. No doubt, manipulative and underhand tactics are employed to guilt people into working far more hours than they're really paid to work, or than most people would consider reasonable or balanced, but it's generally because, as has been said, everyone is feeling the deadline crunch. Line managers and team leads are getting pressure from above, and they pass that on to everyone below them. It's easy to see how the psychology plays out too. You might hate the fact that you're working crazy hours, but that makes you no more tolerant of people who aren't as willing to do it - if I'm still here, why should they get away with leaving early? Peer pressure becomes just as effective a mechanism for reinforcing this kind of working practice as the power structures within the organisation.
The real problem is surely in either inept project management or in overcommitting. In other industries I have experience of, the latter is usually a consequence of not enough business being shared by too many competitors. Companies are forced to commit to wildly unrealistic deadlines in order to win business. I'm not sure how the game industry works though - do developers tout for publishers for projects they already have in development? Or do publishers put out contracts for games which developers bid on? Or a mixture of the two?
I work for a small technology company as a developer, and these stories about the games industry - however representative they may be - are what put me off it. At one time I really wanted to get in to games development, but I'm just not prepared to work an 80 hour week on a regular basis.
16-04-2013, 12:05 PM #17
16-04-2013, 12:10 PM #18
16-04-2013, 12:12 PM #19
16-04-2013, 12:14 PM #20
Oh no I'm a senior programmer now and I still get paid less than some graduate programmer jobs in London.