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.