Quality of Life in the Game Industry: Challenges and Best Practices 20 Apr 2004
The workplace is a stressful one everywhere, more so in the game industry than in most others. Long hours are endemic. Most projects fail in the marketplace. High-profile studio closures are announced every month. And while the work we do is stimulating and rewarding in its own right, there is no reason not to make our working conditions a lot better than they are today.
For young career-oriented people fresh out of school, our industry’s shortcomings, with its endemic long hours and 95% marketplace failure rate, may not always seem obvious or crippling. But after a few years, all-nighters fuelled by coffee and pizza lose much of their appeal. Most people come to want significant relationships, a more balanced life, and sometimes, children as well. None of this is easy to achieve in the typical game company. As a result, many experienced developers fed up with the crunch cycle decide to leave the industry, taking with them a wealth of talent and experience that we can ill afford to lose.
Some within the industry consider long hours, high pressure and generally poor quality of life as normal, or even as signs of strength to be bragged about. We do not. No enlightened company should, either: one of the surprising findings of the IGDA Quality
of Life Survey is that the majority of game developers now consider games to be only one of many valid career choices for them, not the be-all and end-all that industry folklore still holds dear. As projects get ever bigger and we have to compete with companies like Qualcomm, HP and Pixar for talent, we just can’t afford to drive our best people away by offering comparatively mediocre quality of life conditions.
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