GDC: Developer Says No Need for Excessive Overtime in Game Industry

Many gamers dream of working for a big game company, but the truth of the matter is that employees who work directly on game projects often go through divorces, breakups with their loved ones and plenty of mental and physical anguish due to extremely long work hours. Typically, during "crunch time,"–where games enter a phase in which deadlines have to be met in order to launch the title–team members experience work weeks of 70 to 90 hours. But Chris Taylor, designer of Gas Powered Games’ Supreme Commander, said that this doesn’t have to be how the industry works in remarks made during GDC.

This game industry secret–that some workers are basically driven into the ground in order to meet deadlines–has leaked out these past few years, resulting in lawsuits filed by game employees for not being paid for the overtime hours they put in. Not only that, but some spouses have filed grievances against game companies on the grounds that the mandatory overtime has degraded their family life.

But Chris Taylor offered another view, saying, "You make better games when you work regular hours. You’re more creative–when you go home at night you’re still thinking, because you’re creative people. So when you get back at the computer, you have all these ideas and you get them down anyway. So we didn’t put a bunch of stuff in our office that would make people think that they should work there until late. We don’t want people to live in the office at Gas Powered Games."

Taylor’s thoughts aren’t much of a stretch. During crunch time, game company employees have often brought cots or sleeping bags to their cubicles in order to stay at work. Why? The commute back home wouldn’t make sense since they would have to come back to work in only a few hours time–it was more efficient to just stay at the office. Basically, they lived at the office.

But at Gas Powered Games, this sort of condition doesn’t exist and staff can put in, for the most part, regular hours like the rest of the working community. "I’m proud of that. Because it goes against everything we’ve been taught about. I want everyone here to be filled with inspiration to move our industry in that direction. I feel like we’re saving something with our kids and our marriages–you know, marriages actually work a lot better when you spend time with your spouse."

Perhaps Gas Powered Games has found the solution to this problem. By planning deadlines more carefully and relieving the development team of the pressure that typically comes along with the final phases of development, it has alleviated these problems seen throughout the industry.


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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