Scrustle wrote: ↑
April 3rd, 2019, 3:21 pm
Frankly, Jason Schreier's recent work, as well as similar stuff from other writers, has thoroughly put me off the idea of ever wanting to get in to the games industry. It sounds like absolute hell. Brilliant journalism though, of course.
As a bit of a continuation on this story, Polygon did a piece covering Kotaku's story, as well as Bioware's response.
It sounds like the message hasn't really sunk in, and they may be doomed to keep making the same mistakes if they don't have a change of attitude very soon.
It's not just the games industry though. Crunch is a major issue in labour *in general*. I work in the industrial automation industry, and has much as I have my complaints about my current job... I only work 84 hours biweekly. When I was working for integrators, the companies actually building and installing automated systems, 60 hours WEEKS were considered short. My record for hours worked - and I never once asked for OT - is 113 hours. The reason this happens in automation is probably the same reason it happens in gaming: Shithead sales people. Automation, especially for automotive, is competitive, and profit margins are not huge. So in order to keep steady work for the shop, the sales guys will guarantee impossible deadlines -- which is stupid, because it ends up costing everyone more money in the end.
To give a "roadmap" of a typical assembly line: you're looking at 6 months time with engineering and design, 4-6 months for assembly, 2-4 months for programming, commissioning and proving... Another 1-2 months for teardown and rebuild, and then another 6-12 months for support and bug control. So 1.5 years from first deposit to final sign-off.
The sales guys will sell a contract to get it done in 8 months. Which is fucking ludicrous. So for me as a programmer, I'm basically coding for a machine *that isn't even designed yet*, having to constantly ask engineers what they're wanting, changing things on the fly, scrapping 2 weeks of work when the engineers realize it won't work... But then the project manager expects I can just dump the code in and have the machine magically work so they can ship in two weeks. But it's impossible. So I start pulling 80+ hour weeks (because I'll be fired if I don't - there is zero job protection in this industry, there are no unions), and I'm telling the PM, "There's no way this machine is going to be ready to ship," and they say, "Well, program it on site." So I ship out to some shithole, backwater town in the United States with only one trashy motel, and basically live there for 6 weeks at a time, working 12 hours a day. The plant manager is demanding they start production, so we're limping this machine across a finish line. Then an executive from GM or Nissan comes and screams at me and calls me a "retard" for short-shipping their finall assembly plant parts and it's just like, fuck off!
So I fully and completely understand crunch. I am so, so glad that so many devs are breaking off and selling their own damn games. Every Dead Cells, Celeste, Iconoclasts, SOMA, Hellblade, Hollow Knight... These are probably made by folks who have worked in games before, and got the fuck out before they killed themselves or had a major breakdown. And I will support the *hell* out of that, because I've been in those shoes. It is hell. The stress leave they mention in the BioWare article? I've been on it -- four times. I'm 28 years old. My doctor has told me, "You cannot keep working these hours, you need to take a vacation." Boss says, "You can't take a vacation, we have another massive project for you to do." So I bring a doctor's note, and he can't say no. Last thing these bastards want is the Ministry of Labour coming in, seeing how they force people to work the hours they do with constant threats. And people ask why games industry isn't unionized yet? The U word can and will get you fired -- and not only fired, but black-listed by other companies.
Perhaps you folks can detect the chaos of my tone here - it's a hell I've escaped from. Only recently have I been coming out of a deep hole of depression I basically entered in 2014ish.