It’s spot on. AAA is lethal to health and family.
U just need to check company before joining. There are many those who provides good life: work balance. It is same in every industry. It is that simple. Judge calmly and not by fame or projects.
I suppose the funny thing about human nature is that if something can be pushed to the very limit, there will always be those willing to push it there. Professional athletes are an example of this; there’s no limit to how strong a person can get, only the maximum hours in a day spent training. I’m not justifying what the AAA games industry is doing, just acknowledging that this propensity to achieve and outdo goes beyond game development.
At different points in my life, things have been waaaaaay out of balance toward the work I’m doing. Other times, I’ve gone for months being super lazy and unmotivated. I think it could be a net positive for some people to throw themselves into a couple of years of intense AAA game development. But maybe sticking around for ten years is generally a bad idea. We as developers need to know ourselves, and take a break when we need it. Perhaps that starts by realizing there are other outlets for our creativity, and we are never stuck with a certain job.
As for me, at this point in my career, I feel fortunate to work somewhere that doesn’t explicitly target “AAA quality.” Instead, we just focus on giving as much player value as we can within a regular work week. And that’s perfect for my speed. Who knows? Maybe next year, I’ll be itching for a greater challenge. Then I might burn out, and the whole cycle starts over again.
i leave the AAA industry to be Freelancer, it’s so much difficult and i work harder than i never worked before but at least i’m happy; happy to have freedom with a real family quality time but it come with financial insecurity sometime. I think we cant get everything !
I would recommend listening to the Design Notes podcast where this discussion happened rather than read articles or quotes. She didn’t “denounce” the AAA games industry.
I spent ten years working 80+ hours a week on average, some projects I even did 100 hours a week for a month. It means giving up a huge chunk of your life and it’s not sustainable in the long run. I could write a novel about all the crazy behaviour I witnessed during those ten years. Thankfully, I made a personal choice to put an end to it. I am very happy where I am at now because we are making a very high quality game with almost zero crunch.
The long-term destruction created by endless crunch is in the billions of dollars. For example, here’s what John Riccitielo said about just one studio: http://news.softpedia.com/news/EA-Admits-Need-For-Speed-Franchise-Exploitation-with-Yearly-Iterations-157689.shtml
“I’ll tell you a story,” Riccitiello told the Bank
of America Merrill Lynch 2010 Media, Communications & Entertainment
Conference. "If you went back to when I first got into the games
industry, 1997, Need For Speed was a really strong title.
"In the '04 to '07 period, we had a single studio,
Black Box, up in Vancouver, building our [NFS games]. And we literally
had them on a death march building for five years in a row. [There were]
annual iterations, they had to put it out; no rest for the weary. "
“It’d happened before - games publishers do this
from time to time. We should have put them on two-year alternating
cycles but we didn’t. And the title declined dramatically. We started to
lose people. They didn’t want to work 24 hours a day, seven days a
week, 365 days a year.”
That studio was making an unbelievable amount of revenue and they killed it.
So yes, it is deadly for you as an individual and deadly for the life of a studio and deadly for long-term investment. There are no organizations or groups that can help you and ultimately the power is with you, the talent, to decide what sort of life you want to live.
I like looking at it in terms of what we (as the “victims” here) can do about this kind of situation. (edit: Of course, I’m not saying that people who don’t do these things deserve to be treated badly. Ideally, studios just treat their staff well to start with, and we don’t need to do these extra things. But given a capitalist world/job market that favours employers and the wealthy, I think these things help.)
We can skill up. This makes it easier for us to find other work if we’re unhappy with our current employer. It makes it a bit less painful if we do have to resign, or if a studio closes (which, it seems, happens quite often).
We can save money. America is notorious for having a culture of consumerism. If we’re strict with ourselves for a while – just until we can save several months’ salary as an “emergency fund”, it allows us to walk away from a bad job even if there aren’t other jobs on offer, knowing we can survive for several months while we look for other employment.
We can regularly apply for new jobs (even when we’re happy with our current work). Applying doesn’t mean you have to take it; it just means you’re starting a conversation, and gaining an understanding of how another studio claims they’ll treat you. This helps you to understand if your current employer is treating you unfairly, but (with successful interviews) also provides you with back-up plans.
We can be more open with each other about which studios treat their staff poorly, and actively avoid studios that have a poor reputation in that regard, and perhaps teach managers to treat their staff well if they wish to retain experienced staff.
We can make ourselves familiar with the body of research that claims prolonged crunch actually makes us less productive. We can realise that art and creativity must come from a multitude of experiences, and that collecting life experiences away from a computer (whether game jamming on a remote island, or back-packing and sky-diving, or falling in love) and just being a healthier human being can increase our sources of inspiration and improve the experiences we design and create. (I’m personally a little wary of this research, because it sounds like something that’d make us more comfortable, and arguably work less hard. But as long as we’re working smarter, and the quality of our hours is higher, I think there’s some room for this kind of thinking.)
Ultimately, I think it’s just about not feeling “trapped” at your job, and being in a situation where you can just walk away if it’s not working out for you.
I realise I may simply be lucky, but in my ~6 years of working in the game industry, I’ve worked a total of maybe 3 weeks of crunch, and never on Sundays. (I’ve worked many, many hours over the 40-hour week, but the extra hours have gone into courses, creating my own games, experimenting and learning with my own prototypes and artwork, and simply doing the things I enjoy doing anyway, but for myself.)