I think this article offers an interesting insight to the discussion around RDR2 but also how we societally view work in “creative” fields. Choice excerpts include:
But if we want to understand work today, it helps to know how we got here. One reason the video game industry gets away with “crunch” is that we tend to have a higher tolerance for long hours in creative industries because we believe that its workers are doing what they love (and given the number of stories we have about the sacrifices art supposedly demands, we may even expect it). But, like so many things in culture industries, these are simply exaggerated versions of broader phenomena: namely the expectation that we should find “meaning” in our work.
The other, more sobering side of the story is that many of us now expect to find work we love, and that, for those of us lucky enough to have found it, we will work ourselves half to death. (That goes for games journalists and academics too, by the way). In a sense, by demanding meaningful work, we got exactly what we asked for — just not, perhaps, what we really desired.
“What crunch in places like Rockstar reveals is that the labor-capital relationship is pretty much the same,” explains Daniel Joesph, a political economist a the University of Toronto. “Whether it’s migrant workers in Shenzen or Rockstar employees in Brooklyn, there is a throughline for workers in both hardware and software, skilled and ‘unskilled’, to see the deep exploitation that both sets of workers experience.”
From designers seeking “meaningful” work in New York, to skilled but underpaid animation artists in Shanghai, to migrant workers toiling under some of the most horrific working conditions ever devised by humankind, the game industry adapts to the changing material and subjective conditions across the world to exploit workers in the most complete form it can.