Extended Crunch is Bad. Bad, bad, bad πŸ’€

General / 19 June 2018
Onegai shimasu (γŠγ­γŒγ„ します) Β πŸ™‡

Crunch. This is a controversial subject and I'm still going to talk about it.
I've had my fair share of crunch time. The toughest was a straight 4 months, 7 days a week, 100 hrs or so a week. There are only 168 hours in a week, so you can understand the misery. For years I had a sleeping bag under my desk that I finally used in the outdoors a few years ago. One night I fell asleep at the wheel of my car. Luckily I was at a stoplight and my foot was on the break. It was 2am and they streets were bare. Another lucky break.

Extended crunches does bad things to your health, physically and mentally. I started to gain weight. My blood pressure spiked. I started to drink more to numb myself. I was already an insomniac so my sleep became worse. I got angry easily. I began to shut myself off from my family and friends. I held bitterness and resentment to a lot of people, mostly for no good reason at all. Once I almost threw a punch at a programmer for saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. It was 1 o'clock in the morning and we were all tired, getting on each others nerves. I was talked down by a fellow artist. The next day I had lunch with the programmer. I could not, and still can't, remember what he said to piss me off. Neither could he (fortunately). We are still pals. Then our game was canceled a few months later.

Productivity will slow. Mistakes will be made. Tempers will rise.Β 

Why is there crunch? A number of reasons. The main one, IMHO, is poor management and poor scheduling. Other reasons could include people not doing their job to help out or as arbitrary as the person in charge wants to see people working harder. I've seen it all. The IGDA (International Game Developers Association) has done extensive research on crunch time here:
https://www.igda.org/page/crunchsixlessons?
And if you've not read the "EA Spouse" story, do so:
https://ea-spouse.livejournal.com/274.html
Crunch still happens. Sometimes, crunch get built into the schedule (absurd, right?) Some of my colleagues were on a year long crunch, 6 days a week minimum (and were looked down upon,  by management, if they were not there Sundays). Brutal 😫. Crunch will burn out wonderful talent very fast and they will have to be replaced (which takes time and $$).

There may be a little crunch here and there, for a couple of weeks, for polish. No big deal.It should not be used as a standard practice for working on ANYTHING. I did the calculation once one what my actual pay would have been had I'd been paid for the amount of overtime that I worked. It was astronomical. And I was certainly not the highest paid artist.

Why am I complaining? There is such a thing as a "life" that I, and many others with this experience, want to have. Down time is essential in this line of work. A balance in our lives is necessary for active creativity and career longevity. What is not right is for companies to take for granted the people who work for them. To be just a number. An asset (which I was told I was once). To be taken for granted. I know several colleagues that have started new Indie studios and do what they can for the employees to have a work/life balance because they don't want their employees to experience the same stress as they did. The change is happening, however its too slow. Does not mean you should stay away from the industry. It is fulfilling in so may ways.

Making games is not as fun as playing them. However it should not feel like a very slow death.