It's not just the details that should make you wonder about the work that went into them


In the Podcast episode 189 (I don’t see a thread for it here?) you look at small details that games have for some reason and wonder at what cost they were included. I think that’s misleading. Yes those small details were uses of dev time that may have been abusive but dev work goes into every single aspect of the game, big and small. Sacrifices and abuses may be hidden in any element, not just the literal bollocks. When you press forward your character goes forward, was that made under fair conditions? Was the main menu font perhaps a result of wage slavery?

I don’t think it’s useful to look at the amount of work in a game and just guess from there whether abuse has taken place, abuse can happen in the largest and the smallest studios. It can happen in an outsourcing shop in India or a company HQ in San Francisco.

Take the game as a whole and maybe question it as a whole, investigate if you want to know the labor conditions. The presence of useless details is more a question of WTF they’re spending people’s work time on than evidence for a bad workplace culture.

I mean, hey, maybe they had some details added just to keep a few more employees employed and with something to do instead of firing them? Just speculation won’t get us anywhere.


Yup, level of detail is at best only a contributing factor in exploitative labor practices. Fundamentally, how detailed a game is comes down to project scope management, which essentially boils down to how much work can be done with the resources available. Crunch culture is simply a way of extracting more work from the same pool of resources (namely human resources) for the enrichment of the capital owners. There are ways to make the incredibly large scope of games like Spider-Man ethically, but that just reduces the amount of money that C-suite types get paid. And we certainly can’t have that, can we?


Podcast thread up now: It's Time to Radically Remake the Games Industry