6. NursingWhile surgeons can benefit from games, game developers haven’t forgotten about nurses. Some hospitals have programs where staff can simulate responses to various emergencies or care situations. The goal is to increase the standard for patient safety and minimize human error.
7. Electronics and Appliance RepairPutting the right part in the right place takes a lot of experience and knowledge of hundreds of different models. Technicians can get an opportunity for repetitive practice by “dropping” parts into specific areas on a machine using a cursor.
The relationship between work and play is inherently entwined—there would, after all, be no PlayStation without the workstation. The link is clearest, perhaps, in a genre of simulation games that has enjoyed a surge in popularity in recent years. Car Mechanic Simulator, an unironic video-game approximation of the trade, became a best-seller in its first week of release, in late April. It’s just the latest simulation game that seeks to replicate working-class professions; the list includes Farming Simulator (gather crops), Oil Platform Simulator (drill for fossil fuels), Stone Quarry Simulator (collect rocks), Street Cleaning Simulator (collect litter), Euro Truck Simulator (deliver goods), and Tokyo Bus Guide (deliver passengers).
In a few cases, such simulations are authentic enough to be considered legitimate training for the profession itself. Time spent using military-grade flight simulators, for example, can count toward a pilot’s official flight-time record. Last year, a number of players of the Football Manager series of games submitted résumés for the job of managing Manchester United, in the U.K., citing their in-game achievements as qualifications. And each year the Japanese car manufacturer Nissan runs a competition using the driving-simulation game Gran Turismo, to find new racing talent. Lucas Ordoñez, the winner of the inaugural competition, in 2008, has become one of the company’s leading competitors on the professional track.
Why is this still happening? Why do people so often have to work crazy hours just to make video games? Should companies be doing more to prevent it? Over the past few weeks, I’ve talked to some two dozen current and former game developers—some of whom spoke on the record and others who asked to be kept anonymous—to try to answer some of these questions. The stories are candid and ugly: some speak of nights sleeping in the office; of going weeks without seeing their families; of losing friendships and relationships because of endless unpaid overtime. Some say crunch drove them away from the video game industry. Some say they’ve taken vows to never work more than 10 hours a day.
To many developers and outside observers, one thing is increasingly clear: the video game industry’s reliance on crunch is unsustainable, and hurts far more than it helps.