Inspired by the recent Life is Strange article here and this harrowing story in the NYT, I thought it’d be good to have a dedicated thread to discuss the specific issue of labor exploitation and work culture in the games industry. To start this discussion off, I wanted to offer a few of my thoughts on the article.
What strikes me as the most insidious aspect of crunch is how it’s normalized and reinforced by management and company culture. Games industry workers are only considered valuable insofar as they can cram in as much work as necessary to ship a product; their health has seemingly no intrinsic value to the company, and that perception embeds itself in the work culture and consequently in the individual employees (especially in the terrifying case of Brett Douville, who was worked so hard that in one instance he lacked the strength to get out of his car.)
Perhaps this is emblematic of the Silicon Valley work/overwork culture in general, but the conditions forced upon game developers seem especially egregious given the relatively low salaries of games industry jobs compared with others in the tech field.
I guess what I’m wondering is: what would it take to get an effective games industry labor movement going? What conditions need to change before game developer unions would have a chance of coalescing? I’ve been thinking a lot about this topic for the last couple years based on some of the many industry horror stories I’ve heard, and I’d love to hear what y’all think about this/the NYT article.