I have started this newsletter with the idea of using it as a place of reflection for my research that I conduct for the Honors Thesis. In the past 10 days, I have been interviewing roughly around 10 people - both aspiring and current game developers.
While each person’s experience is different, I have often heard that people are concerned about others not knowing how the video games industry function. Some developers complained about the players being toxic, verbally harassing developers when a certain aspect doesn’t function as desired. Some aspiring developers explained how there isn’t yet enough education about the work relations inside the industry.
Quite often, the general public is not aware about what is going on inside the video games industry. Since video games are portrayed as something fun, an environment in which we can escape and enjoy ourselves for some time, the dominant idea is that creating video games must be fun as well.
The same is valid for bread - if you fall in love with it, you might think that baking it is enjoyable. Indeed, if you work in a good workplace, then fun can also be part of the process. If you work on minimum wage, in a place resembling 1880s London, then fun is far away from being present at the workplace.
Since producing video games is not itself fun, and depends on the work policy of the company itself, there are certain phenomenas at play which influence the developers relationship to the working conditions. From my research, I understand that all of them would like the conditions to improve overall, but they don’t complain too much because they love the work that they are doing. Some didn’t really know what is possible to do in order to make the conditions better, while others were more pessimistic saying: it is impossible to do that for such a creative industry.
Yet, there have been numerous examples of games being produced with no crunch (working long-hours, close to the launch of the game)
, such as the most recent PS5 exclusive - Ratchet and Clank
. The developers took to Twitter describing their situation, showing that a different way of working is possible. You do not have to overwork the employees to create an amazing game, such as The Last of Us