They Talked About It, At Least? It’s Something
“Crunch” is, debatably, one of the most nightmarish things for a game dev to endure. For those not in the loop, crunch is a practice where developers are expected to commit far, far more hours than usual for their work. This isn’t a small task either – many developers reported sleeping at their desks and very high-pressure work environments leading to a downright painful experience. In fact, the idea of a crunch-free game has become something of an ethical badge of honour, with developers and critics alike praising games that refused the practice.
Some studios, Naughty Dog in particular, have become infamous for demanding too much from exhausted workers. And in the face of these claims, something had to be done. Turns out, that “something” was discussed in a recent interview – and those statements were seen as lackluster by many.
When the discussion moved to crunch, things became a lot less definitive. There was plenty of discussion about what defined crunch, how there was no “one size fits all” solution, and they even listed a few possible solutions they’d found to be unworkable. It was clearly something they’d put thought into, but the lack of any concrete disavowal of the practice, as well as no proposed solution (nor any methods through which they could find one) rubbed some the wrong way. There was a similar tone when it came to another controversial issue in the games industry: unionization.
While this seems to be an issue Naughty Dog is thinking about, there’s an undeniable reality that actions speak louder than words. And to date, their plans to combat crunch are unknown – assuming they exist at all. The struggle between quick financial games and a reasonable work experience is a tough one in today’s world, but the fact that these issues are being openly discussed is proof enough that the tides are changing (albeit slowly, but still).