Out of all of the things that could possibly be annoying about gamers, Heather Reynolds like their complicity in workplace malpractice the least
You know what really grinds my gears? Seeing actual adults, go on a Twitter tantrum because a game was delayed by a few months. It’s a rage that stems from both my disbelief that there are people over the age of ten who still haven’t discovered the concept of patience, and that there are people who consider themselves gaming experts who still don’t realise the impact this pressure has on the people putting together the project they’re so hotly anticipating.
You see, overly negative responses to games being delayed contribute to a larger issue in the industry, referred to as “crunch culture”. To summarise a complicated issue, crunch happens when, due to unyielding deadlines, workers end up working twelve to sixteen-hour days for weeks on end. Working consumes their life, barely having enough time to sleep, with weekends (if they have them) spent on overtime, or doing nothing to try and recover from the exhaustion. On top of this, recent BECTU survey showed that 80% of workers weren’t being paid for their overtime, and in the USA the popular approach is studios hiring workers for the crunch period, promising brighter job prospects, before moving them to another crunch project, or, worse again, firing them once the crunch is over. At this stage most major developers are guilty of making it part of the work’s culture.
But how does this affect you, outside of the fact that if you had any level of humanity you’d care about the wellbeing of others? It’s simple. The smaller the timeframe, the more likely it is they’ll make mistakes. Less deadline pressure means bugs can be thoroughly ironed out. Supporting the workers means you get better quality games, for the same investment.
And how can you support them? Well, you could publicly reassure the developers that your excitement for the project is unaffected, as backlash just adds unnecessary pressure. (Also, supporting unions is always good) If you enjoy the outcome of the hours that video game creators do, the least you can do is support them in making the industry a better place to work