60+ hours work week still the industry norm?


I don’t really know how I feel. Looking at posts from EpicBoy it seems like they get great monetary compensation, but if it’s the norm, then it’s not a choice. Ie you can’t pick another developer to work for that doesn’t demand those hours.

I like my 38 hours work week and 6-7 weeks of vacation to be with my family - also I’m not a proper games journalist since I harbor no dreams of going into development.

This ^^^ is not the norm in the industry.

6-7 weeks vacation…that is like some fairytale land. ;)

Or any industry.

After reading articles like this and talking with programmer friends, I’m glad I went right back to school after getting my CS degree.

Nursing allows me to work 36 hours a week at a decent wage and get 3-4 weeks paid vacation a year (if I save personal time off) which gives me ample time to do whatever the hell I want. Music, reading, gaming… etc. Plus, it’s very satisfying.

Praise to those that do develop games though!

Sounds like some people are still stupid enough to think that the humans can produce more just because you force them to work for more hours.

A well-rested and happy programmer is so far more productive than an over-worked and tired one.

Depends a lot on the studio, and where it is on the ship cycle. The last several months of Halo Wars was easily 60-70 hr weeks for almost everyone. Things can get much worse than that, though not in any sustainable way … System Shock 1 was sleep-deprivation bad crunch for an extended period, as I recall.

I’d say my average non-crunch period work weeks are probably about 50 hrs, sometimes even a lot closer to the mythical 40. I’ve worked for good companies though, some are chronic crunchers which can be much more brutal.

When you’re having fun with it you don’t notice the hours nearly as much however. I wind up working long hours a lot simply because I’m in the zone and enjoying what I’m doing, or going in on a weekend because I’m excited to. Frankly, if I wasn’t making games professionally I’d just be finding time to do it at home after my regular job as a DB programmer or accountant or store clerk or whatever.

Epic pays waaay more than the average industry studio, although there’s been a fair amount of shit going on around the private boards due to Capp’s comments.

Once I ship my current title I’m probably on my way out of this industry. I’m taking a 40% pay cut to work where I do. In addition we are on “manditory” 10 hour work days + saturday at a minimum for the next few months. This does not count the couple ~100 hour weeks I worked for a couple milestones and a pretty consistent 70 hours otherwise the months before that.

My previous job was the same, 70-80 hour week crunch for months, I went back to school rather than continue on at that company and thought that this time it would be different, guess I was wrong.

It’s really a bloody shame because it’s a damn fun industry(when you’re not crunching) and I really enjoy the job its self and working with my coworkers. Priorities change as you get older however, if I want to afford a house and not live at work I don’t see that happening in the game industry any time soon.

I’m thankful I went into business software development instead of game development based on everything I’ve heard over the last few years.

I can work 40-45 hours a week probably 7-8 months out of the year, and 45-60 hours the rest of the time (with paid overtime), and get 4 weeks of vacation of year. I guess it all depends on how much you really like to make games.

This man speaks truth.

Looking at posts from EpicBoy it seems like they get great monetary compensation, but if it’s the norm, then it’s not a choice.

It’s not the norm. I generally work 40-45 hours a week and work a little on the weekends for the better part of the year. At the end of a project, I put in long weeks for a few months to get the game out the door - aka crunch.

However, we are well compensated for this but Epic is not the industry norm. Many game companies promise bonuses and compensation but deliver layoffs instead.

Sounds like some people are still stupid enough to think that the humans can produce more just because you force them to work for more hours.

A well-rested and happy programmer is so far more productive than an over-worked and tired one.

It IS effective in short bursts however. Mini-crunches to hit internal deadlines generally result in a better product at the end of the day. You can crunch for a few weeks but going beyond that is dumb. That’s when you hit diminishing returns.

Not everywhere is like that, but I think that way too many places are.

This is somewhat tangential to the thread, but recently my Boston buddy Darius Kazemi started an early run for next year’s IGDA board elections. He put up a blog where he’s getting into his positions and generally stirring things up a bit. He’s also doing a petition for some more transparency into board activities, like finding Jason Della Rocca’s replacement.

I’d encourage IGDA members that want the org to be more effective to check it out.

Sprints can be effective, but only for very short periods of time, and only with equivalent time off afterwards.

Crunch is pretty much always counterproductive, and it goes counterproductive quickly.

It’s better in indie land. We work when we want to (although I probably work more than 45 hours a week), and we have no crunch because we ship when it’s done.

We do almost no crunch at Ubi Montreal, and none of it is forced. They may ask for extra, but there’s no downside to saying no.

edit: After reading that article, I think I’ll let my membership lapse until they boot the guy.

Oh, and something to add to the thread: http://www.igda.org/articles/erobinson_crunch.php

You know, just some personal notes on my experience with crunch. I think a big part of the problem is that employees accept it. Nowadays, I am upfront when it comes to jobs: I will not work more than an 8 hour work day except for a few weeks maximum leading up to a major milestone, and even then, no more than twice in a year. People need to push back. They hired you, they are paying you. Why? Because you can do something they value. So don’t take shit. Work 8 hours, and tell people when your workload is unreasonable.

New people in the industry are much better with this. A lot of the green people I work with nowadays are interested in working hard 8 hours a day, not fucking around, and they are interested in going home at a reasonable time, not killing themselves.

One day when people all adopt these stances, someone pushing for more than a 40 hour work week will be laughed at. If you read my previous link, this is a solved problem. There’s empirical evidence from a century ago proving it.

The problem with the game industry is that it was founded on the backs of dropouts and people who didn’t want a real job. Their ignorance is the basis of all the problems we live with nowadays.

thats very very true. But my experience is that young kids joining the industry still see working 12 hour days as some romantic/macho thing to be encouraged.
Maybe part of it is 95% of the workforce being men. Are women as keen on crunch as the guys?

Half right. Well rested employees are more productive, but if I recall my organizational behavior classes correctly there is no correlation between happiness and productivity. Negative emotions detract from productivity but positive ones don’t add to it. People can be equally productive on a meh day and on the happiest day of their life.