We Asked Nintendo, Microsoft, and 12 Other Devs How They Deal With Crunch

I think I would agree that overtime during the ebb and flow of different projects doesn’t fit in the same category as what we usually think of as crunch (ie EA spouse). At any job I’ve had there have been busy times and lighter times, sometimes a lot of overtime and sometimes none.

But I will say that its worrying the amount of times the answers were seemingly very good but they slipped in the “its hard to stop people from coming in on the weekend thats up to them!”. I’m glad at least one developer was asked about the idea of forced passion.

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Adrian Ciszewski, probably: People love to crunch! Can’t stop 'em! Gotta love those passionate developers!

I’m sad that none of them bit on the topic of unions or unionisation. Also that ESA response reads like a Trump rant.

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I would agree as long as it’s paid as overtime and it is an ebb and flow, not a case of stretching out people’s days beyond the actual work they’re doing.

I work in animation and it’s all too common for people to just regularly stay late, even for small periods of time, because there’s too much work being squeezed out of people. It may not be as soul sucking as some severe cases of crunch but I think it’s still an important cause of sapping people’s time and energy that should be part of this conversation.

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This was fucking harrowing to read. There were not a lot of responses I liked, except the Tunic dev actually, ha. But the ESA quote was frankly patronizing and awful and I would have been rolling my fucking eyes so hard they’d fall out of my skull. But hey, that’s why I’m not a journalist right?

The conversation with Massive was hilarious. Oh, Rob, you had to know asking that was gonna get you a hard stop, but in a way it’s a loooooot more telling that way, ain’t it, to see how the PR folks will shut shit down hard.

Thank you for this article, I super loved seeing the… comfort levels of each studio when it comes to talking about this.

But also, wow, I hope the ESA guy steps on a lego.

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I think they all know what it means, but we’re still at the point where they can talk about it on their own terms.

Legit, this may have been the first time game press has ever asked this question to these people.

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Consider all of the other games press you read.

Polygon?
PC Gamer?
Gamespot?

No one else is bringing questionsike this to the table.

IGN? … Haha, as if…

thanks y’all for doing this reporting. very important, and an interesting read. :heart_eyes:

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At the risk of sounding astoundingly glib, we need to #AbolishESA.

EDIT 1: P.S. Is this the first time that Reggie has ever referred to himself as black???

EDIT 2: God I can’t understand why Gallagher doesn’t see how fucked this line of argument is.

ALL THE REST OF TECH HAS BETTER CONDITIONS THAN GAMES. YOU CAN’T MAKE THIS ARGUMENT IF GAMES IS THE WORST OF THE BUNCH.

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This article is responsible and powerful journalism. Thank you for making the hard choice to be direct about crunch and labor with so many developers! Maybe seeing this string will make others feel like not being honest and forthright about labor will make them look bad, and more will be willing to speak up and have the conversation. I wonder what the next step for waypoint and game workers unite should be…

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I would be more impressed by Nintendo’s response if they had not pulled the same shit Arena Net just did but aside from that only somewhat less weak response none of these are especially great from the big devs which is, extremely unsurprising

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Wow, very good read. This is the kind of stuff that I think makes Waypoint so important for games journalism and the industry in general.

Side note: I don’t know if any of the Waypoint staff had a chance to talk to Digital Extremes, but I think that would make for a very interesting conversation about crunch. As someone who really really likes Warframe, it’s disheartening to hear about the issue of crunch that goes on over there, even if it’s not as public (to my knowledge), and extremely frustrating to see the pressure from gamers who are fueling and reinforcing it. (We’ve been talking about this a bit in the Waypoint Warframe thread, especially this past weekend with Tennocon 2018, for those who want to check it out.)

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Peter Gallagher here to remind you how the language of capital is some of the most tedious doublespeak you’ll encounter in your damn life.

Having started off in business, I can say that most of these guys actually believe this shit. You have to get real far up the chain before you’ll find someone who knows how much of a bastard they are.

Model these behaviours; promote people who don’t talk back; and you’ve got a self-replicating culture of managers and executives whose moral compass is dictated solely by what the market will permit.

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I think crunch is sadly very culturally ingrained.

Most of the interviewees said something along the lines of “of course we don’t force anyone to crunch, but if they do, how on earth can we stop them?”

I think at some point, management has to step in and be very explicit about their expectations. Tell your developers that you understand how passionate they are, but it’s more important that they have full weekends with their families and friends. And hold them accountable (easier said than done, I know).

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What?! Oh god, what happened?

Alison Rapp of nintendo treehouse was harassed by some assholes back in 2016 and due to the “controversy” Nintendo straight up fired her. Nintendo fired her because she was working a second job under an alias to pay off student loans, and that information got out specifically through the harassment she was a target of. It was a fucking mess and I don’t remember all of the details but this Polygon article tells the full story.

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The one hopeful thing I see about most of these answers that it gives the sense that people are aware that the practices that they might have bragged about 20 years ago would seem distasteful now.

But I do wonder how different the stories would be if you were able to actually ask the staff. Cizsewski, the Dying Light 2 director, mentions driving by the building on the weekend and seeing cars in the parking lot. I can’t help but think there are a lot of these managers saying “we have good work-life balance” who never drive by their parking lots on the weekend.

I’m glad Waypoint pushed people on whether they specifically tell employees to stop working. I remember once I had a new employee who was very excited that she had come up with a breakthrough on a project on a Saturday. She gave me the write-up she had put together. Before we looked at her work, I had to tell her that she was not permitted to work outside scheduled hours, to file the hours she worked on Saturday so she could get paid (time-and-a-half), and that further instances of working overtime that hadn’t been pre-approved could lead to disciplinary action.

I only had to go to those lengths because we had a union that required me to. Lip service and aspirations are nice. Rules are better.

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I have to assume they’re talking about the termination of Alison Rapp in 2016 after she was targeted. Nintendo’s localization team decided to remove some… questionable content regarding underage girls from the NA versions of some games, and Rapp (who, ironically, would probably have rather kept those things in the games) became the main target of harassment for GGers and other hateful people waving the flag of “free speech”. Her firing was a validation of their actions.

Patrick wrote about it at Kotaku:

Yeah, I’m wondering if staff that work under some of the people interviewed for this article got a chance to read it and are like “Uhhhhh what? That’s complete BS.” Maybe there’s chance for some follow up article(s) if employees reach out because of this article (under the condition of anonymity I assume).

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Oh god, I completely forgot about this mess. This is happening far too frequently.

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