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I have worked at game development companies for nearly 20 years. Initially I worked a lot of overtime for free,but after a couple of years I started to feel the effects on my life. After that I mostly just did not do OT unless it was paid. One year on a badly run project I doubled my salary through OT pay, and though my life outside work was not good I was able to put a significant amount of money aside. The following year hourly OT pay was gone, but the expectations were not. I made it clear I would only do OT on rare occasions, such as my work falling behind and a colleague being dependent on it at the weekend, when he would be working and I would be having a life. Even this caused resentment and I had to do the walk of shame at 5pm every day, and I was laid off as soon as the game shipped. The sense of personal failure was very hard on me at the time, but 12 years down the line, I've had a successful career in games, while being upfront at the hiring stage about my attitude to OT. I have worked a handful of weekend days and never later than 8pm in the week. I didn't miss my son growing up, and I read him a bedtime story every night. I don't think this is possible for every programmer and every company, but you can make it work.

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