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Toxic management cost an award-winning game studio its best developers (theverge.com)
321 points by snake117 11 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 149 comments



The extra terrible thing is that this is completely counter-productive. E.g. see this takedown of crunch time by someone who works in the game industry: http://www.igda.org/?page=crunchsixlessons

But this is a problem outside the game industry too, though it sounds like they're even worse than usual. If you're a software engineer stuck in one of these jobs, you need to realize working fewer hours is good for you and your employer. More here: https://codewithoutrules.com/2016/08/18/productive-programme...


You're assuming, incorrectly, that management (especially upper management) is worried about producing quality products. They sort of are, but for any of the people who mange to survive in those positions, that's a secondary (or even tertiary) concern - their primary concern is survival. The only way to survive has little to do with creating a great product and everything to do with making sure the blame never falls on you.


Well said! I'm immediately reminded of the paradox of the 4th down punt in American Football. Put simply, head coaches choose to punt far more often than they statistically should; but, they do so anyway because it ensures they won't take the blame for the "unorthodox" decision.

In this case, it's management giving the impression that they are "doing something." We see the same thing with, "can we add more developers to speed this up?" The answer is almost universally "no" and, presumably, any manager in the modern era should have read (or at least be familiar with) the over 40 year-old book, "The Mythical Man Month." But, from a senior management position, there aren't many levers to pull--and when the heat is on, they have to be seen to "do something."

One interesting source on the topic (there are many others):

https://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/05/upshot/4th-down-when-to-g...


Speaking to senior management about being "seen" doing something here. Maybe you should pull up your bootstraps and ask your team what they need, use your authority to knock down any blockers the team identifies, listen to them, work with them in the trenches, and in a way become their slave, ready to move on anything they ask of you. But hey, that's just what I'd do in the situation and be danmed if someone tried to tell me I wasn't doing something.


I don't know how much that would help. If senior management were capable of contributing at this level, they'd be an architect or product owner. They're not, so they cannot help.

A certain design and a certain set of requirements is what defines the time table. You can influence it to a very small degree by adding more people, but that's it. Nothing anybody can do will make it faster, unless they propose a better more efficient design or way of doing it. Or reduce the requirements.


The flip side, though, is that intrinsic measures of software quality are terrible. Most boil the ocean looking to define what makes something good in the small, and completely fail to generalize into the large.

Worse, too many are interested in building a general solution when they haven't even done a single concrete solution. I have yet to find a proud developer that said, "I used the boring choices for this problem and got a solid solution."

This is akin to expecting an artisan to give better results for a standard kitchen than a builder would get from buying Ikea.

And don't take that as some sort of value judgement either way. Builders are there own to of Craftsman. Different doesn't need a hierarchy.

My gut for why this is? In a fiercely competitive field, leverage from success is the primary driver. And you get more leverage and success by being different. The upside is huge. Naturally, so is the downside. Survivor bias kicks in and people think they succeed from wiser choices, so they are incapable of reflecting and making less risky choices as they age as an org. Which requires an influx of young risk takers that have not hit a downside yet.


This is difficult to read. I'm sure you have some good points in there.


I'll blame writing on my phone while on the bus. With my stop coming up. :)

That said, probably nothing too deep. I certainly wasn't aiming for it.

My main points:

  * Most of us in engineering focus on intrinsic measurements of our code's quality.  These don't generalize well to product quality
  * Nothing wrong with being a builder, instead of an artisan.  Especially when it comes to building.
  * Most people that succeeded fall to survivor bias and think they know why they succeeded.  They are usually wrong.


Note that it isn't the case that anybody who goes into management is automatically survival-oriented as opposed to doing-good-work-oriented. It's just that the ones who prioritise their own survival tend to survive longer than those who do not. It's sort of a combination of the anthropic principle and tragedy of the commons - management is the way it is, because if it weren't, it wouldn't be where it is. Meanwhile, if your company was structured in a way that rewarded striving to produce quality product using humane practises, you will (paradoxically) make less money over the long term than sweatshops. Sadly I'm not smart enough to come up with a system that fixes this, except perhaps to run companies like democracies and do away with monarch-style CEOs. But then my employee-focused democracy would be outperformed by the money-focused kingdom next door.


UBI would help these situations. Those managers would probably invest less time in the survival mode stuff if they knew there was always an option out. Further, their staff wouldn’t need the work so desperately so the amount of stress they felt would be “capped”.


There's also probably a portion of managers that cause the crunch by being incompetent up front. Not managing scope, escalations, resourcing, decisions etc leads to tight deadlines and 'sudden' urgency to meet earlier expectations that were never managed or adjusted along the way.


Yup, it's an endemic problem that has no sign of going away due to the constant influx of young people willing to take it on the nose to get into the industry.

Ironically if you look at Gamasutra's yearly survey you see a huge cliff of experience right at the ~3 year mark as those people get burned out and the cycle repeats.


> due to the constant influx of young people willing to take it on the nose to get into the industry.

I mean, I guess. I'm in my late 30s and I just got sucked in to a project that was behind schedule by miles to try to meet an impossible deadline. The expectation seems to be that the 90 hour week I had last week is going to be repeated again this week and, most likely, also next week, come hell or high water, and any sort of common sense or evidence about how short-sighed this effort is be damned. I like my job, for the most part, but this has me considering my options.

My point is, I see this as an upper management issue. I can't fault people, including myself, for doing what we have to do to keep the paychecks rolling in, and especially when the power dynamics are as uneven as they are. You are right that younger people (and, also, let's not forget our friends in this industry on work visas) are less capable of dealing with the issue than veterans. But, from my point of view, it's not us who are wrong. Instead, it's the management chain who is unaccountable to their bad planning, poor decision making, etc... who create this situation.


That's why people are calling for a guild. A way so that developers can push back against this, and not have to worry about being fired.


I'd love to have something of a union to back us up, I honestly don't see any way to improve the situation otherwise.


I think a lot of the HN crowd has enough experience and clout to keep from getting exploited, but I'd personally love to be a part of a large union where I can help mentor junior engineers and get help in turn from more senior ones.

I think beyond shared negotiation, what a union could really help with is managing younger engineers' careers. I stuck around in a bad first job way too long because I just didn't have enough experience or exposure to successful engineers to realize how crappy my job really was.


To be fair, there are a lot of senior developers telling upper management what they want to hear, including by saying nothing and charging once more into the breach.


Yeah, and that's exactly how I ended up in my situation. I was pulled off of one top-priority project to another, magically higher, top-priority project because a so-called senior engineer wrote some checks he couldn't cash.


> has no sign of going away due to the constant influx of young people willing to take it

Why is the onus to change the industry on the inexperienced folk (who likely don't know any better) rather than the bosses/leadership who theoretically get paid the big bucks to figure out how to properly run their organizations?


The big bucks dudes(to be clear here we're talking about publishers, not developers) are incentivized to keep the status quo. They get a constant stream of new talent that works at sub-par rates.

Very few studios are independent at this point so it's rare for any of them to have leverage. Since all the capital is organized around the big publishers unless you have a breakout success(which can be harder than the startup space) they can dictate terms and conditions.

There used to be a fun clause where upon studio bankruptcy the code/assets would revert to the publisher. Seems reasonable right?

Well what would happen is the publisher would start denying milestones for frivolous things, usually at peak headcount ~4mo from ship. This very quickly puts the studio in the red and they fold since they can't sustain a lawsuit and employ 100+ people while not getting paid. The publisher would then get source+assets, re-hire the team that was suddenly out of a job at 80% rate and ship the game with no royalty clause to the original studio + get IP. That's the kind of exploitation you see in that industry.


It's very similar to many of the abuses the Hollywood studio system has done over the decades. Hollywood seems to make it clear that the only working answer to making that somewhat sustainable for the talent, for the creative people, for all the people that aren't overpaid executive sharks and don't want to be entirely chewed up and spit out, is to unionize.


Yeah, there's a lot of parallels. In my mind it was always closer to the shenanigans that went on in the music/record industry because there's very little unionization in gamedev.


That's fucking sick game the publishers played. Thank goodness there are multiple ways better ways to fund a game studio right now instead of getting roped into one of these toxic relationships.


Observing that the root of the problem is an eternal influx of young people who think the only fun programming job is in gaming isn't putting the onus on them. You can't solve the problem if you refuse to understand it because the real problem offends you. I'm perfectly happy to put the onus on the businesses abusing these people, and to suggest even some regulation may be called for.

However, on the flip side, it is vital that we, as in, we programmers and people posting on HN, understand the problem properly so we can address it to the extent we can. I've done what I can on HN and places like /r/programming to discourage people from monomaniacally focusing on gaming, thinking that the only other thing anybody ever does in programming is relentlessly program useless CRUD apps for banks or something. The truth is that while not every programming job is good, there's a lot more interesting jobs out there than just gaming, and a lot of gaming jobs suuuuuuccccckkkk, and the truth that you need to tell young people thinking about getting into programming is that your odds of landing an interesting job are actually way better if they do not monomaniacally focus on being a "games programmer". The reality of the games industry is that not only are you likely to go on crunch time for months at a crack, you're likely to be doing it on some licensed Disney crap game, not even the AAA game you're dreaming of.

(I have no problem with people taking risks. If they insist on rolling the dice for the games industry, hoping they can make it, more power to them. But I want people to take risks with as much information as possible.)


As discussed on a previous thread -- I like making games, but I hate the gaming industry.

So today I write games in my spare time while I turn one of the giant stone capstans on an enterprise Java installation to keep food and a roof. It's not sexy work by any means, but my team is great and I get to punch out after eight hours.


Yeah. I want to not hate work. I'd even like to enjoy it with some frequency. But it's not really my primary source of entertainment, fulfillment, or enjoyment, and while there are some artistic types here who will legitimately look at that and be horrified, it doesn't particularly bother me. I am large, I contain multitudes, and they don't all have to live at work.


What are some industries to look for work in if you’re tired of working on CRUD and you want to work on some kind of visual art? VFX, gaming, etc, seem to be the only things I can think of.


What is it about programming the visual stuff that you like? For me I realized what I enjoyed about graphic algorithm is that you are constantly dealing with high level concepts like perceptional models as well as having to make a performant implementation using various approximations and what not. It wasn't necessarily the "art" part of it. Sticking to visual work:

* Someone has to create the tools that the games and movie industry has to use. Companies like Adobe and Autodesk that create 3D rendering and modeling software need tons of programmers familiar in graphics programming at all levels. Office source software like Blender is actively developed.

* Vehicle manufacturing companies like Honda, Ford, Boeing, Airbus, BMW all use tons of visualization and engineering software when designing their vehicles.

* Architectural firms use all kinds of rendering packages to visualize their buildings. VR is becoming a part of this and perhaps a place to get in early and become an expert in.

* Companies like Sony and Samsung that create panels deal with so applying human perceptual models to get colors and contrast correctly.

* Nikon, Canon, Fuji all offer hardware and software to the medial field and have to process X-ray, MRI info etc. Even in their consumer-level cameras lots of graphics know how is needed to process imaging data in their video streams.

* All of the tools mentioned above will have a user interface that has to be carefully and creatively designed to be used by creative people, analytical people etc. This is interesting in and of itself to me.

Things like video codecs and digital signal processing tickle the parts of my brain as game programming did.


Wow, thanks for all the suggestions.

> What is it about programming the visual stuff that you like?

I like that at the end of it, I get to see someone interact with my application. Your example of GFX tooling sounds like something I would like, but I probably lack the experience for. I feel like the math bar for being a game developer is a lot lower than being the implementor of tools for game developers. I don't have a very strong math background. Game development seems appealing because of all the tooling and resources for learning.

> * Vehicle manufacturing companies like Honda, Ford, Boeing, Airbus, BMW all use tons of visualization and engineering software when designing their vehicles.

I have a friend who works in vehicle UIs, maybe I should ask him if his company is hiring. That being said, I don't even know how to drive and I feel like that might be a problem.

> * Architectural firms use all kinds of rendering packages to visualize their buildings. VR is becoming a part of this and perhaps a place to get in early and become an expert in.

I applied for a job once with a start up working on an architectural design application. I didn't get the job, but it did seem very interesting. Unfortunately, VR makes me nauseous.

> * Companies like Sony and Samsung that create panels deal with so applying human perceptual models to get colors and contrast correctly.

That sounds interesting but like something I don't have the domain knowledge for.

> * All of the tools mentioned above will have a user interface that has to be carefully and creatively designed to be used by creative people, analytical people etc. This is interesting in and of itself to me.

That doesn't seem very different from working on CRUD, to be honest. Occasionally it's interesting but mostly you're just glueing together widgets from a toolkit.

I guess my problem isn't that I think gaming is the only interesting place to work, it's that I have only an undergrad degree in CS / digital art from a non-top tier university. When I interview for these super interesting jobs, I don't meet a lot of people like me. There are ton of people like me working on making CRUD though. Gaming seems like there isn't a terribly high barrier to entry. That, and I love games.


The interface stuff is hard to gauge on the surface but don't write it off just yet. Many interfaces require lots of hardware acceleration to work right even though they look simple (for example Photoshop or Lightroom). Video editing software has to use all kinds of tricks to show real time updates usually involving some kind of fast approximations upfront with better and better ones blending in. This is often straight, hardcore programming to get the memory and performance of the rendering at a good place and not really applying PhD level stuff. Often times the topics you touch on will be years ahead of the game stuff. Game graphic techniques are often times things that we've been doing in other software for years and finally possible in a game(eg tone-mapping, HDR, physically based lighting, etc).

Then there are interfaces like this:

* http://www.musictech.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Caption-...

Things used by creative people often don't have existing widgets toolkits to draw from and entire new UIs have to be created.

Domain knowledge can be acquired along the way. Not just for games, but in general you never want to be "Just a programmer". You want to be "X that can program" or a "a programmer that knows X". You need enough domain knowledge to be useful to experts.

For cars, I don't didn't mean the car's UI itself but rather that industrial manufacturing uses tons of software with large graphics components. Things like SolidWorks or other kinds of things that analyze the physical shapes of things have a lot of just straight hardcore programming in them.

Edit: as for education, go get some! MIT open courseware has tons of calculus and engineering classes for free. The text books can be found online often times for a few bucks. The digital signal processing course was actually fun.


Lots of good stuff here, I'll also add that most UIs are hardware accelerated so tons of stuff in that space.

If performance constraints are your thing embedded systems are almost a drop-in as a engine dev.


I know that there are some companies around me that make UIs for various devices. Alpine and Panasonic do nav and in-flight entertainment devices, for example.


Because the bosses/leadership are getting paid the big bucks to keep things as they are. If they felt the need to change things, they would have already. As such, they've felt just fine trading their humanity for money.


I think for a lot of these people, they have never worked in any other company and maybe dont even realize work can be done another way. I’d love to ask an actual employee at one of these places: Do you realize crunch time is rare or nonexistent for most other companies? If so, do you stay where you are purely “because games?”

I remember joining a particularly toxic company and mentoring one of the junior guys there. It was his first and only job out of school, and he thought work was simply supposed to be toxic—like this was normal.


Sadly I think it's just that they're young and don't have a lot of responsibilities yet so it's easier to take on the brunt of it.

I know before I went into the industry it was at a point where crunch was widely known. Heck, some people bragged about it like a badge of honor/rite of passage.

A lot of it was maturing and realizing that there are more important things in life then giving every waking hour to a company that may throw you out on the door as soon as the title is shipped(or even sooner).

I mentioned it a little further down the thread but I saw 3 different divorces at the last studio I worked at, largely due to spouses just not being there for each other due to the long hours.


What gets me is that in almost no other industry (besides maybe investment banking) would this mentality even make sense. “Boss had me putting in roof shingles for 16 hours straight with no overtime—it was awesome!” “We had crunch time in the garage for six months where I never saw my family. I’ve finally made it as a real mechanic!” Could you imagine hearing any of that?


Having been in construction for a while, the only difference in attitude is they get overtime. It was well known that you work the first 40 hours just to get to the big money of overtime. There was plenty of bragging about how many hours you worked and how few days it took to frame a house (our record was 2.5 days on a small cookie cutter house we built a dozen times before).

It was also known that you could get a union jobs that paid a little more per hour, but because there was no overtime you made less money (you were not allowed to work overtime, not to be confused with they would illegally cheat your out of your overtime). At the time I couldn't have paid my bills on union a union paycheck, but after overtime I could pay my bills.


Most of the industries that have been that bad have been somewhat curtailed by unionization.

Hollywood is the clearest parallel to the Game Industry, and most of their abuse is stopped by unions, where they exist. The current direct parallel in Hollywood right now seems to be the Special Effects/CGI/computer animation shops which currently have an average lifespan of two years, aren't strongly unionized, and see a similar turnover/crunch as the Games Industry.


I'd hazard to say (and a lot of this is from some undergrad time in an architecture program) that's an additional factor with younger devs.

Undergrad college teaches you to lie to yourself about your productivity.

In the sense that time is equated to value (rather than work product being value). Which I think infects a lot of things.

If the game can't be delivered on schedule, and butts-in-seats time is perceived as valuable by a company, then instituting death march crunch hours seems reasonable.

On the other hand if a company values actual results, and a game can't be delivered on schedule, then it has to make a very different decision: push the schedule or increase people assigned to the project.

I'd argue that the end result of crunch is usually pushing the schedule anyway (because either more work can't get done, or sleep deprived work has more bugs), but I can see how the two perspectives would look very different to management. And explain a lot of dysfunction.



Wow. That's exactly how long I lasted in the video game industry. 3 years.


Young people are looking forward to overwork themselves, because older people heroize overworking yourself. Often by bragging how much they worked and exaggerating or leaving out down times or that late night coding was actually 70% beer drinking, often claiming that crunch is necessary or price for good product.

And oftentimes by using crunch as argument for why the person who works 90 hours a week should have more say in things.

When discussing crunch itself, crunch is talked about as bad. In any other context, it is praised and heroized.


I think the answer is obviously some kind of labor organization, akin to the various creative "guilds" that already dominate the entertainment industry. Everyone else who works in entertainment already figured out that the execs will run you into the ground without this protection.


Agree 100%; but there are a lot of self-deluded workaholics who don’t understand why everyone else can’t (or won’t) work like them — and these people tend to set the culture.

You have no idea how difficult it is to bring these ideas to executives on the business side. They wrote this idea of “40 hour weeks are more productive” off decades ago because it didn’t suit their needs (people in executive positions tend to get there by working longer hours than others, so this becomes the metric they push as critical for success.) “The Mythical Man Month” is something everyone reads simply so they can ignore it because “well, that applies to normal people...”


I've worked in crunch mode for an extended period in the games industry and at a startup, and the startup was much worse to me but to be fair at the startup I was the only programmer, and during the gaming crunch period (I forget, but think it was somewhere between 6-12 months) I was on a core team of about a half dozen programmers and a dozen artists and I was almost never the choke point for progress.


That was a hell of a sentence.


I think management people needs to know, lots of problem solving work, like programming, can happens in "Background Thread". i.e You are thinking / solving the problem without realising it.

Making them sitting in front of their desk for 20 hours a day doesn't really help.

That is assuming all programming work are 95% Thinking / Reading / Finding out answers then writing. I am not sure if the same applies to Game programming though.


> But this is a problem outside the game industry too

There is definitely a parallel in film and animation as well. Underpaid, worn out talented people are legion in production and post-production.

> “You’d get a lot of people coming right out of school, going, ‘Oh I really want to prove myself, and I really want to make sure that they see that I’m contributing,’(...) They either worked themselves out and would get sick or would become bitter.”

Part of this happens because management does its job well in the first place, that is stretching resources to the max. But let's not forget it happens with the tacit consent of the burned out crew. Unrealistic optimism, the excitement of being part of something big, the belief that this "crunch" is only temporary are also to blame. All that is understandable and unfortunately, these seem to be a part of the creative process.

> “[People who] take a lot of pride in this product are the people who are going to kill themselves. And those are the people you really don’t want killing themselves because they have the most value in the company.”

Perhaps more transparency is needed on the part of the crew or communication/education with their peers—especially with freshly graduated ones. One of the issues is that everybody knows this is toxic yet tends to accept the situation assuming this must be how production works.


I just wanted to say how comprehensive and enlightening your first reference was: It gives clear empirical / historical evidence of why working too many hours will ultimately kill your progress.

http://www.igda.org/?page=crunchsixlessons


I dunno what it is about the gaming industry relative to other software-related industries, but they have a horrid reputation for effectively treating employees as disposable.

Not coincidentally, a lot of games end up having technical problems from the constant rush.


People romanticize working in games and are exploited for it. Once you realize the string allocator you’re coding isn’t much different than the one that other person working on enterprise software is making, but you’re getting paid 1/2 what they are and on deadlines dictated by a calendar based on $200 million worth of marketing decisions, you jump ship only to have your void filled by someone exactly like you a couple years more novice.


Yup, the pay thing is a double edged sword too because most studios are usually in high CoL locations.

When I left the industry it was an instant 2x income increase. I went from paycheck to paycheck to being able to actually afford living in the Seattle area.

I remember running the numbers on the hours I was working at my salary rate and realized that I would have been better off flipping burgers instead. It wasn't the breaking point but it definitely was a contributing factor.


I don't think the double-edged sword is the metaphor you're looking for... in that, at least one edge is working for you. :p


I know someone whose entire reason for going into computer science was to become a game programmer and eventually hoping to be a game designer. Years after when he realized his career wasn’t what he thought it was he quit, and now he’s working as a security guard somewhere.


People romanticize working in games and are exploited for it.

Ain't that the truth. Lots of young men (teenagers) aspire to be gamer programmers. When my son uttered those words, I immediately schooled him that it was one of the worst places on earth for a programmer to work. He got it.


A lot of people want to work in games, so your junior people are easily replaced. Projects are episodic, and often do or die for small companies or even studios in larger companies. So the choice is perceived as maybe burning out a team or probably shutting down.

Games are also one of those things where there is a big reward for being first and best, and little or no reward for being competent. Even though, as an audience you may not see it that way.


Games need a wide range of things some but not all of them get stuck in a crunch. You can have smaller well managed teams working reasonable schedules to get the core game play worked out then bolt on the AAA stuff once you have a winner.

Crunch does have some advantages to the company, but it's also high risk.


Crunch has zero advantages, period.

We're not talking about a extra week of hard work here and there, it's months of sustained 80-100hr work weeks. You're so exhausted after just a few weeks that you make a ton of stupid fucking mistakes, which compounds the whole situation.

If crunch worked you'd see it more widely across our industry, however it has the benefit of both burning out people and putting them in a state where their output is lower than it could be at sustained reasonable hours.

Any asshole who thinks otherwise needs to be called out on it.

Source: Ex-gamedev, where I watched crunch crater two different studios.


I guess it kinda depends on how your company does "crunch".

I've been lucky in that in the crunches I've been involved in, although I've worked nights and weekends, we had a good division of responsibilities and guards against overworking. So while the team was through a multi-week crunch, I personally would be working only for a week and half stretch. But perhaps that is not what you mean by crunch.

I guess my point is that occasionally it isn't bad to have a tight deadline and give it your everything to get it to work. If you do get it done, it feels mighty good. But I agree that it wouldn't be something I would like to do on a regular cadence.


A week and a half isn't crunch though, I'm talking about sustained long hours over a month or more(usually 4-6 months).

Working a strong week is totally fine if followed by some recovery time. As long as it doesn't go longer than 2 weeks that's possible to do without destroying productivity, although you still run the risk of burning out your employees.


I think the original idea of 'crunch' is that short period but games (and, in my experience, vfx) tend to just normalize that constant long hours (though they'll hire you saying that hours only get bad at peak times without mentioning that it's always a 'busy' time).


60-75h/weeks is still crunch and can be sustained for ~6+ months without total burnout. And really this level of crunch is fairly common in our industry.

The difference is Google/software as a service, does not have the same kind of hard deadlines. But, when you start talking about major launches and boxed software or startups you really do see crunch.

PS: By crunch I mean unsustainable pace leading up to a hard deadline.


15 hour days for 6 months? Nope, fuck you.

Not only are you doing worse work than you normally would at a sustainable rate but you're also putting tons of pressure on people's home life. I saw 3 divorces at my second studio from people working hours along those lines.

If you really think that's sustainable then you have no place in this or any other tech industry. We aren't in emergency service or work in an environment where lives are on the line. Those hours have no place here.


> We aren't in emergency service or work in an environment where lives are on the line.

Obviously these jobs have occasional acute long work times but I'd say that jobs where lives are on the line is precisely where society doesn't want chronically sleep deprived workers.


It's 10 to 12.5 hour days six days a week. My sister is an animator for Disney and they do this every other year. But they also have significant bonuses associated with these crunches it's not unpaid overtime.

Not something I want to be part of, but 30+k bonus for six months of hell is a choice many people would happily take. Hell look at fishing boats they do 15 hour days of hard and dangerous manual labor. But, again they tend to pay people for that effort.


> 30+k bonus for six months of hell

30,000 / (35 * 2 * 4 * 6) = ~$17/hr = ~34k/yr

That seems like a poor deal for putting your family through 6 months of hell.

> Not something I want to be part of

Then don't fucking endorse it!


What does the 2 represent? I assume the 4 is 4 weeks and the 6 is 6 months. The 35 must be the high end of 60 to 75 (instead of, say, the average), minus 40 hours. A normal non-crunch work week is more like 45 hours due to breaks and meals, not counting the commute.

30,000 / (22.5 * 4 * 6) = ~$55/hr = ~$110k/yr


Overtime.


That's better than what I thought you were doing, dividing by 2 years or a 2-week pay period. But I don't think it makes sense to adjust for overtime here anyway. Would an $8/hour retail worker say, "I don't want to work overtime for the holiday crunch. Those extra hours are like working for only $8/hour after adjusting for overtime"?


First your not even using my range assuming 60-75 just means 75 and assuming a normal week is only 40. People still get sick and go to dentist appointments etc during crunch. They just don't take 2 week vacations.

So, it's closer to 46$ / hour: 30,000 / (52 weeks * 1/2 year * 25 hours)

Anyway, if you consider doing this 1 out of 4 years that's 60k extra for a 'hell' year not bad for a 22 year old. And again 30k is for entry level people it can go up quite a bit.

Alternatively, many Animators only work crunch they end up working 6 months a year and taking 6 months off.


> People still get sick and go to dentist appointments etc during crunch. They just don't take 2 week vacations.

Yes they do and they catch a ton of shit for doing it. I got tore into one day because I dared to leave at the early hour of 11:00pm having got to the office at 8am that morning.

Look, it's obvious that you haven't been on one of these death marches and so you don't really understand what type of a toll that it puts on a team. My example of hourly rate was to point out that it's an awful trade on one side for putting your family through 6 months of hell.

If money was really the important factor here then people wouldn't be working for entertainment companies because compensation is worse across the board(from engineers to animators/artists and designers). I work with a ton of ex-gamedev people who've made the transition out and there's literally no comparison.

Your $46/hr rate for instance doesn't even crack based Google SWE pay, not including their bonuses.

I get that there's a prestige and a sense of accomplishment of working at Disney/your dream studio. That still doesn't excuse them from grinding people into the ground with these insane hours.


This is not the pay of Google SWE, these are Animators that start at far lower base salaries. Some people get 100+k bonuses for doing crunch, it's really relative to salary.

Look I have done the whole you work sleep or eat and nothing else for peanuts. That does not mean everyone who works 50+ hour weeks is getting shafted.

As to family obligations, not everyone is in that boat. Sure, working insane hours may not seem like a great way to spend your early 20's, but it's also not required that everyone do this. You can make a solid living without pulling crunch time, but it's reasonable for the option to exist.

Really, step outside your bubble. Some people working 80 hour weeks pull in a few million per year, they have options and still chose that lifestyle.

PS: And nobody is forced to do this, if nothing else quitting is an option.


Considering you cherry picked that and skipped over how I know animators making a significant increase outside of the industry doing similar work makes it clear you're not really interested in a discussion here.

I leave my comments as is, anyone advocating for crunch has no place it any part of the tech industry, full stop.


I have not been advocating crunch. If I was trying to convince you it was a good idea I would say you're expenses are already paid, so a little extra money at 22 can quickly snowball. A little suffering now is an easy ticket to retire by 45.

But, again I am not saying it's a good idea as general practice. Just that it's not nessisarily irrational behavior.

That said, you seem to be ignoring what I have actually said in favor of your own personal rage. I suspect you would be happier setting that aside.


So, you retired at 45?


I am not 45 :)

I do know 3 people who did by working insane hours in their early 20's. Less time to spend money + more money makes saving 50+k per year after taxes viable. None of them kept working those hours for that long but compound interest works much faster with a larger nest egg.

Now, they used a second job to get there, but having your boss pay you for extra time also works.


I currently work in legal/accounting. We do plenty of work in crunch periods varying between 12 to 15 hours a day, including or excluding weekends.

People lose effectiveness within a week at that volume of work. Consistently. They become forgetful, need things re-explained to them, act irritably, produce work that needs additional levels of revision, etc.

If the work is largely rote, that might be acceptable; perform an extra 10% work to quality control the 50-75% surplus in gross work product. If the work is strategic or synthetic, it is often not.

Over time, however, small performance degradations turn into health complications and morale problems. This is intentional. In high churn industries, individuals who are at the top of the ladder prefer that those they're leveraging lower down perform more work, leave before their positions are threatened, and use the corrosion of their health as a shield against the ambition of entry-level staff.


> 60-75h/weeks is still crunch and can be sustained for ~6+ months without total burnout. And really this level of crunch is fairly common in our industry.

How is this not an issue to you? It would be one thing of software developers were this highly specialized group of people where you have a pool of a few hundred in every state. Developers aren't scarce though. For every mediocre developer, there are 5 more than replace that person.

Scarcity aside, why would you want to subjugate yourself to that lifestyle? Most people aren't even productive for a full 8 hours/day, so how does adding 4 more hours in a day make business sense?

I don't care for our industry to unionize, because I don't want to be beholden to some organization fighting for basic human decency. But when people brazenly say, "Yeah 60 hours is fine! You have months before you burnout!" Good for you, but I have interests and people that don't involve work.


If you're a certain kind of asshole - the kind of asshole who finds a certain kind of management role attractive - the reward isn't system efficiency, product quality, or even just product shipping, the reward is in the sense of power that comes from bullying economic inferiors who depend on you for a pay check and can't answer back to unreasonable demands.

It's drama, it's danger, it's excitement, and it's probably fuelled by a coke habit.

If you enjoy that kind of power you'll happily kill a company to experience it.

Games dev isn't unique in this kind of toxicity, but it's more pressing because projects are often huge group efforts with massive resources and long time scales where most of the work is done by young and relatively inexperienced employees who are motivated as much by the games scene as by a pay check.

In the same way that #MeToo called out sexual harassment and abuse, we really need a corporate equivalent that calls out toxic working conditions created by insane management.


We had that moment years ago with EA Spouse, sadly it didn't really move the needle very much. That's probably because there's other places where people with skillset from gamedev can find a saner environment.


> 60-75h/weeks is still crunch and can be sustained for ~6+ months without total burnout.

I downvoted you because this is untrue. Research has shown that crunching for more than a few weeks is detrimental to work output.


Not what I said, total burnout = zero work done. Yea, they might only be 1/2 as efficient as someone doing a 40 hour week, but meeting etc add overhead so it can still be a net gain even with dramatic productivity loss.


> 60-75h/weeks is still crunch and can be sustained for ~6+ months without total burnout. And really this level of crunch is fairly common in our industry.

I think the game industry can get away with this because some people really, really want to work on games, and there aren't many companies in the industry with more reasonable hours that one could switch to. But the rest of us eventually figure out that we can demand to be treated well or we can find another job.

A week or two of crunch time can happen every once in a while at most jobs. But 6+ months of "crunch time" is really a permanent company culture of working long hours.


No, that rate is still quite evil. That is also unsustainable, and there is absolutely no excuse for any management that decides that their company is more important than an employee being able to live their life outside of work.


On my third game I tried very hard to make a game with a generous schedule and no crunch. One thing that I discovered was that it was very hard to get members of the team to let things go. If you are passionate, their is always room for improvement. So you had to create deadlines that put pressure on people.


Sure, but that seems like the opposite. Creating a deadline as a reasonable limit on the amount of work put in is a lot different from demanding the same amount of work in an unreasonable time.


Unless you align incentives correctly, you're not paying your developers to ship software, you're just paying them to write code.

Setting a deadline is one way of aligning incentives (ship by this date or else...) and can work well so long as there is a good conversation around requirements, appropriate milestones are set, and developers are trusted to make good faith estimates. However, it is not the only way.


At that point, you exercise your power as boss and tell them to go home.


But the company doesn't really bear any of that risk. If something goes wrong, they just fire the staff, and start over. Upper management doesn't feel any pain.


Games are perceived to be date-driven hits. So there is a "magic date" you need to meet -- a major holiday, for instance, or a big industry event like E3 -- or your project is "toast". So you wind up with crunch time, and a lot of quality problems, and ship a bad, buggy product that gets bad reviews (but hey, you shipped by the magic date, so that made it all better, right?)

Crunch time generally happens with consumer products; I've worked on these products practically my whole career, and it will burn you out unless you can find projects with enlightened management. I've also found that getting your own piece done solid, ahead of schedule, only means that you get dragged into the swamps and help out other teams with their issues -- you get to work on the really nasty bugs, the integrations with APIs designed by people too clever for their own damned good, you get to see the real sausage being made.

I argue that shipping a good product late, with a smaller team [the tendency is to add a bunch of staffing to meet deadlines, and we all know how that story ends] will result in better reviews and sales, a team that has better ownership of the product, and much better retention. But try telling that to a Suit whose only skill is to order people around.

[When I wrote my first game cartridge, I gave a detailed schedule of 150 days. It was October and marketing wanted the project to ship by Christmas, which left about two weeks for development. Even a clueless management stack knows that you can't compress work by that much, but it did take some effort to convince the marketroids that they couldn't just have 20 or 30 engineers sit down for a week and write the code. I did burnout hours for several months and finished up within a week of what I'd planned].

I regularly counsel "kids" not to get into the game industry early, and to concentrate on getting wide experience to a bunch of technologies, because game studios need more than just graphics and pretty lights. You can be a hero for doing a provisioning system, or a secure real-time networking layer, or a great storage system, and this stuff is just as necessary and as valuable as those flashy effects on the screen, just not as sexy or visible.


It’s not just holidays and E3 (and dodging releasing at th same time as the largest flagship titles). The main schedule constraint is that marketing spend must be paid months in advance for the purpose of reserving specific time windows. That spend is often equal or greater than the development budget. And, if you miss your time window, too fucking bad. You will have no marketing, no more money to buy in again and your game is now a flaming money hole.

I once worked on a sequel to a semi-popular Xbox game that was tremendously better than the original in every way -except that it lacked marketing. It sold 10% of what the original did because no one noticed that it shipped.

Shipping late is often not an option. Either ship on time or cancel the project near the end of development after 90% of the budget is spent. Layoffs and possible studio closure will certainly follow.


> The main schedule constraint is that marketing spend must be paid months in advance for the purpose of reserving specific time windows. That spend is often equal or greater than the development budget. And, if you miss your time window, too fucking bad. You will have no marketing, no more money to buy in again and your game is now a flaming money hole.

That's a good argument for being date-driven. However it strikes me that the best way to deal with that is to have a disciplined project management process so that you have a good estimate for when product development will actually be done.


That's the theory. And, everybody claims that's what they do. But, in practice it is exceedingly difficult to estimate not just software, but software that is premised on delivering novelty, creativity and a volume of original and highly-technical art greatly exceeding the budget of the engineering team.

On top of that, there is pretty much no defined path for learning how to be a game production manager. People come in, in myriad ways, pretty much completely unskilled as junior producers and mostly learn by following their seniors. As a result, project management skills in the industry are generally quite... poor.


> That's the theory. And, everybody claims that's what they do. But, in practice it is exceedingly difficult to estimate not just software, but software that is premised on delivering novelty, creativity and a volume of original and highly-technical art greatly exceeding the budget of the engineering team.

I hear ya. I don't have a background in game-dev, but I have done some tech R&D, and worked with others who have a lot more such experience, and so I understand the challenges of setting a delivery date when the problem is so open-ended. It's helped when you can spend some time upfront trying to eliminate the biggest sources of risk via prototyping, etc. Would that be called something like "pre-production" in game-dev?

However, and I don't mean to be glib here, but it seems to me that most creative software development isn't so revolutionary that it can't be estimated (or, at least isn't so radical that the feasibility of given due date cannot be determined) by a team with deep domain experience. I suspect, though cannot prove, that the fact the industry tends to burn people out after only 3 years is largely what causes the burnout. If they did a better job at retaining experienced engineers the need for crunch mode might diminish greatly.

> On top of that, there is pretty much no defined path for learning how to be a game production manager. People come in, in myriad ways, pretty much completely unskilled as junior producers and mostly learn by following their seniors. As a result, project management skills in the industry are generally quite... poor.

I think that's probably true for the software industry more generally. It's no knock against the people who are project managers, I just don't think there's often clear guidance for what the project manager is really supposed to do.


People are willing to buy broken, exploitative games filled with monetization strategies, built by a committee of the damned. As long as it’s profitable to behave this way, and unregulated, companies making games will keep on being bad actors.


It's a terrible business model. It attracts creatives and addicts who can't help but work on games. Proceed from there...


The trick is working for companies doing 3D application development that's not related to games. I've never had a job where management treated us like this in almost a decade so far.


This is one thing I've never understood. For almost any skill set, there are multiple industries you could work in.

And furthermore, the industry with the worst treatment of employees is likely not the best paying (given that bad treatment tends to stem from popularity / availability of naive new employees).

So, if you don't like your work life... find a related industry!


But that's a pretty terrible suggestion. It should not be required to change industries to be treated with basic human dignity.


Working conditions are a product of three variables:

Employee supply * employer demand * legal regulations

If supply and demand aren't going to change in your industry... expecting conditions to change is a long wait for a bus that's not coming.


That's great and all, but that's still extremely evil.


Right, but, capitalism. The only ways to change the behaviour of companies is either legally mandating them to do something (which has a decent hit rate), or starving them of employees willing to put up with their shit.

Nothing else works. Evil would be the word we would use to describe a person behaving as amorally as companies are expected to behave.


Those are not the only two options.


It's pretty pragmatic advice- there are things that are entirely in your control, partially in your control, and not in your control at all. It's far easier to leave a sick system than to pour in energy to change it


Unfortunately, it's pragmatic to prepare for companies to be evil.


Money and working conditions are factors in job satisfaction, but so is what you are doing. Some people really want to make games.


I played a lot of computer games when I was younger, and I always had an interest / knack for programming... everyone always instantly asked "Oh, so are you going to make video games when you're older?"... they always seem perplexed when I said "No."

So I can see how there might be an overabundance of bright-eyed bushy-tailed young folk who want to go make video games...

Enterprise software isn't sexy but there's lots of demand, it pays well, and you can quickly earn a lot of respect by demonstrating that you have a head on your shoulders.


Or: make your own company. Campo Santo did!


I know people who are 3D artists getting into the game industry. They don't even necessarily care about the games that much, but love the art. They'd be thrilled to work in some other industry that provides the same type of work but wasn't games, but it doesn't seem like there's much demand outside of the gaming industry. Are there other industries that heavily exercise 3d modeling/art?


> Are there other industries that heavily exercise 3d modeling/art?

Industrial design and architecture come to mind.

Film, too, but that is still somewhat crunchy.

Virtual and augmented reality, as well.


Animation though this is often outsourced to studios in Korea like The Simpsons/Futurama from the start, Visual FX (VFX) might be a larger employer than animation, studios are spread around the world.


This is what I call a full of shit company. People will stab you in a back to work for those but when they are there they start to realise how rotten it is. Then it's too late for them as they are getting into the Stockholm syndrome. Afraid to go, being pushed around because they do not believe they can do something better somewhere else and such CEOs take advantage of the situation to use them as much as possible and throw them away like a used condom.

I hate this and it is not worth wasting life working for such companies or such people even for one day.


We need more of this kind of honest writing. In the tech world, we tend to use euphemisms to talk about this kind of destructive behavior. Go to a Meetup full of VCs and they say stuff like "Oh, that startup died because of team dysfunction."

Well, okay, but what does team dysfunction actually look like? How ugly does it get? Why does it happen?

Self-sabotage is remarkably common. We all know the failure rate of startups is very high. The estimates I've read vary, but they are all in the range of 80% to 90%. And clearly, much of the failure comes from suicide, not homicide. That is, the startup isn't out maneuvered by a giant like Google, but rather, it fails because of its own internal flaws.

The essay "Why do entrepreneurs engage in self-sabotage" is on this theme:

http://www.smashcompany.com/business/why-do-entrepreneurs-en...


Between reading the link title and the page loading, I had a little fun guessing which studio it was going to be about. EA? Konami? Ubisoft? Nope, I was wrong. But there are just so many possibilities…

Thank goodness we're in something of a golden age of indie gaming. If you want to vote with your wallet against all these toxic AAA charnel houses, you have plenty of other quality choices to waste your time with.

By the way, no gamers take game awards shows seriously.


Sorry but the way this article describes this Kevin Bruner and its' "toxic management" sounds very close to how people describe Steve Jobs: egocentric, abusive and a micro-manager.

What distinguishes a toxic manager from a leader, then?

Edit: a phrase from the article: "This was one of the biggest issues with him as a CEO: he was pretty convinced that his taste was everyone’s taste."


Steve Jobs the manager went through several iterations. The terminal model was an opinionated manager who listened, respected and promoted those who could argue against him.

Yes, was probably horrible in many ways. It's sad his asshole image clouds everything that was good in his management side and people thinj they need to act like assholes to emulate him. The asshole part was a pathology, not a feature, but perhaps an inseparable part of him as a person.


> and promoted those who could argue against him.

I've worked with managers like this, and although it might work for some, it was hell for me. Having to constantly argue to defend your ideas is draining, soul destroying, depressing, and lead to me burning out multiple times. Discussing and critiquing ideas should not involve force from either the idea's champion, nor who they are pitching it to. If, at the end of the day, you're evaluating ideas based on the force by which they're presented all you end up with is ideas that support being presented and defended forcefully - not deftly, nor intelligently.


"I've worked with managers like this, and although it might work for some, it was hell for me. "

In that context argumentation is merely an unskilled testosterone filled show of force. I would hate that as well.

That's a bit limited view of argument. Argument is not necessary a fight, or a show of force, but merely two sides defending their view and trying to persuade others.

True teams use argument as a daily tool to reach - not consensus - but an agreed path forward that all respect. Everyone agrees to a "disagree and commit" policy where they whole heartedly proceed on the agreed course and see where it will take them.

The argumentation part is critical to reach this commitment level. Unless everyone has a chance to defend their view, commitment to disagreeable strategies is lower.

If this disassembly of group psychology is unfamiliar I can whole heartedly recommend Patrick Lencioni's "Five dysfunctions of a team".

That said, I have no idea of the quality and nature of late Mr. Jobs version of argumentation.


For whatever reason, he was able to inspire and retain talented people. He probably was just as awful, but something else offset that, which Bruner demonstrably lacked.


Success.


PR


Charisma.


In my experience demands for working > 40 hours, nights, weekends, etc. almost always comes from management and planning failures.

What makes this scenario occur so often is that the business side wields too much power when it comes to culture, estimates, technical decision making, etc. For them you solve a problem by throwing more time at it and passing responsibility when possible (along with a few extra meetings, for good measure). Not only does this approach work poorly for development, but they are often the "final stop" in the product lifecycle, thus making it impossible to avoid taking responsibility, even for others work (like, say, for incomplete or nonexistent requirements).

Perhaps worst of all is that surviving these crunches makes things worse as the wrong lessons are learned and the process continues to repeat itself as those who push for change become disgruntled and leave.

Personally I've noticed a correlation between the pushing of "team culture" and toxic environments like this. The most egregious example of this was when it was suggested that I work unpaid on the weekend to "complete the sprint work as a TEAM."


> Personally I've noticed a correlation between the pushing of "team culture" and toxic environments like this. The most egregious example of this was when it was suggested that I work unpaid on the weekend to "complete the sprint work as a TEAM."

The military has known for a very long time that [group] loyalty is absolutely necessary to get people to do things that they wouldn't normally do (for better or for worse), whether it's working extra hard, putting in more hours than usual, treating other groups as enemies, or even, yes, killing other people. The Stanford Prison experiment was a pretty good example of this in a bad way.

This quote from Australian Defense Corps training also shows an understanding of this principle: "Willingness to apply lethal force requires . . . sufficient bonding within the team to override each individual’s natural human resistance to kill. The toughness and bonding required increases the closer the contact with the enemy." [1]

So I wouldn't be surprised if team building exercises etc. were encouraged not only because of the actual productive results, but also because it's at least implicitly known to raise the boundaries of what individuals are willing to do.

[1] McGurk; et al. (2006). 'Joining the ranks: The role of indoctrination in transforming civilians to service members', (in 'Military life: The psychology of serving in peace and combat [vol. 2]'). Westport: Praeger Security International. -- snagged from Reddit: https://www.reddit.com/r/AskHistorians/comments/853218/in_bo...

Edit: Even being aware of these kinds of tactics doesn't do much to help as the tactics (and stress and lack of sleep) themselves wear down your resistance to them and affect your ability to make decent decisions.


Nothing is going to change, there are to many stars in to many programers eyes, when they here games-industry. They literally can afford to burn the best talent, knowing it grows on tree for cheap for them.

Its the same thing why model agents can harass or molest young woman, while they literally allmost starve to death to be in a industry they can only work in for 15 years and will never earn more then the basics to live.

These actors are irrational, and there is a cornucopia providing new ones.

Best idea to dry this swamp is for other industries who lack talent- to provide a dual path- meaning- if you come to work for us, we will teach you also the tools of the game-design trade- and provide you with a chance to parallel realize the game of your dream in a sabatical.


Creating a modern full-fledged "game of your dreams", even if not AAA, can take years if not decades when you're going alone. People join development studios so that they actually have the chance of finishing a project in a reasonable timeframe and so that they can focus on one or two disciplines.


You are totally right- it takes decades.

But lets face it - in a company- there are two or three people doing the game-design, the others usually get not even a chance to contribute.

They are put into a silo, connected to a part of the pipeline and start crunching until the ilusion wears off. Even if you get a chance to realize a idea- in a modern title, the fear of risk, sees to any new concept that it is marginalized.

So even if it takes years, i think by now, its far more realistic to produce a title as a indy dev or open source dev by now.

Had I the heaven's embroidered cloths,

Enwrought with golden and silver light,

The blue and the dim and the dark cloths

Of night and light and the half-light;

I would spread the cloths under your feet:

But I, being poor, have only my dreams;

I have spread my dreams under your feet;

Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.


I think this has something to do with the so-called Parkinson's law, where an organization tends to "corrupt" when it is growing its headcount if its top leader is not aware of it.

I used to work for a startup which has a 'flexible' working time culture too. It was not that bad until the company grew its size to an extent that the middle management layer was established. Then all the shit exactly like what a typical Parkinson's law story happened.

Edit: https://www.economist.com/node/14116121


I've floated around the Game industry as a developer, and I have to say its one of the most toxic management industries I've seen. Too many times I've seen folks who just don't qualify, running developer teams like its some sort of feudal village .. the inclination towards prejudice and bigotry is just too damned high.

I wonder why it is that this industry in particular has such a problem with toxic management? My personal theory is that its because games are fundamentally a total decadence, and decadence just brings out the worst in humans ..


Insecure managers are a plague and I'm very glad I'm no longer working under one.

"A real leader is thrilled when team members achieve great things. A mere manager is threatened."


> For others, the inevitable outcome of what sources familiar with the company describe as years of a culture that promoted constant overwork, toxic management, and ~creative stagnation~

Having never worked in the game industry, I have a very naive view of what is the day-to-day of game developers. Being inherently creative work, what would creative stagnation look like in this case?


It's somewhat described in the article.

Sleep deprived/overworked people have less creative energy (all sorts of productivity studies prove this over and over again). Poorly managed people watching their flanks for toxic attacks at their ideas allow themselves less creative freedom.


Also stuff like having someone else habitually take credit is less than inspiring to bring forward your best work.


The inability or unwillingness to come up with new ideas. You wind up recycling old ideas and avoid trying anything new. An old criticism of telltale games is that if you've played one of their games you've played them all.


Toxic management costs all shops its best developers. Why are they not considered a direct threat to ROI?


The toxic managers know how to negotiate politics and bureaucracy.

http://brucefwebster.com/2008/04/15/the-wetware-crisis-the-t...


Thanks for this article.


Cause most management still considers developers to be interchangeable.


I work 37.5 hours a week, maybe a bit more if I want to bank some hours for a vacation.

Of that, maybe 30 hours is actual productive work. Dunno who thought that a software designer can actually produce useful stuff for 90 hours a week.


French newspapers Mediapart and Canard PC have teamed up and released a bunch of articles about the video game industry and its toxic practices.

The articles are available online [1] but they're in French and some of them are behind a paywall.

The situation got to the point where a labor union for video games creators, « Le Syndicat des Travailleurs et Travailleuses du Jeu Vidéo » (STJV) [2], was created in France last year. There are currently around 70 members (out of 5000+ video game related employees in France). A strike is currently on-going in Eugen Systems [3], a French studio author of RTS games like Steel Division.

[1] https://www.canardpc.com/online/crunch-investigation (French)

[2] https://www.stjv.fr/en/ (English)

[3] https://www.stjv.fr/en/2018/03/already-more-than-3-weeks-on-... (English)


Hmm, I expected this to be about Squad, the makers of Kerbal Space Program...


Isn't this normal and the reason for the rise of indie games?

People want do make games, but they don't want to be crunched into oblivion, so they leave theae studios, go indie and do their own stuff...


Isn't this what happened to Kerbal Space Program too?


Toxicity also loses gamers.


Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice, shame on you. I'm starting to think that game developers enjoy their toxic work environment until they finally realize that it is taking a toll. By then, they find that they're often stuck / lack the confidence to move on.


They definitely move on, or at least drop out. But there are always more to replace them, so the company doesn't feel a lot of pressure to change.


Fashion industry is similar: so many inexperienced twenty year olds would do the job for free. So conditions are poor and people get paid a pittance. Why have one experienced person when you could get 10 x 22 year olds?


Whoops, I meant: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. I pulled a Dubya!


"Won't get fooled again."




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