Sign in to follow this  
Frenzy123

Hi Guys - Games industry

Recommended Posts

Hi guys, i am currently in my second year at university studying computer games software development. The further into my course i get, the more stories i hear flying round about extremly long hours when in a dev team and sleeping under tables etc. Is there anyone who can enlighten me and give me some information on what it is like working within the games industry ? Thx in advance

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Depends where you work. At my place, crunch time is rare, and usually only involves working a couple of hours late on the odd weekday, or the very occasional Saturday.

I've heard of other places where it's common to do 14 hour days for most of the duration of a project though.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by Frenzy123
the more stories i hear flying round about extremly long hours when in a dev team and sleeping under tables etc. Is there anyone who can enlighten me and give me some information on what it is like working within the games industry ?

So you've "heard" stories, but you haven't read any, apparently. Just read. There's a lot of material here on this site. If you haven't yet found the IGDA website, that's highly recommended too.
The topic you're asking about is often referred to as "Quality of Life" or "QoL" for short.
And crunch time, when folks sometimes have to catch their sleep in short stints under the desk, is not a steady diet - it usually only occurs at the end of a poorly-managed project, or a project that's under the gun to be completed on deadline by upper management.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Different companies work differently. I work at a company that has a bad reputation, mainly for past blunders, but it's actually very pleasant to work there 10 months of the year. The other two we're usually working 12 hour days 5 to 6 days a week.

A friend of mine that I used to work with has since started working at another developer (not a major developer, but they do major titles that everyone here would know). They have scheduled overtime 2-3 days a week.

Another friend who used to work for Microsoft Games Studios also had to work overtime, but like in the other two situations, not anything that I'd consider anywhere near hell.

There are rumoured companies that say they don't work overtime. Neversoft is one of the more well known. I don't personally know anyone that works or has worked there though so I can't vouch for the validity of the claim.

I'd say that it's likely that there are a wide range of philosophies at different companies, and certain developers will be able to get more pull with publishers (i.e. an established developer developing "Halo 4" could probably negotiate a more reasonable schedule than a startup developing "Barbie the Movie"). But then again, the more popular the title, the more shareholders will be on you to get it out to market.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I start at 09:00 AM and officially finish at 06:00 PM.
I said officially because I generally spend extra hours at work
because of the amount of tasks to solve.

This week, for example, I'm not getting at home before 08:00 PM.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Believe it. You can also research more into EA Spouse.

All that said though, proper research into companies you're looking to work with can help you easily avoid this problem. Don't be afraid to breach the subject as well during interviews. If they toss you out for asking about issues like these then you obviously don't want to be working with them anyways. Don't just sit around and hope it doesn't happen to you, be proactive about it and understand that it's been a truth in our industry since the dawn of commercialized games.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
wow guys alot of useful information there thx, i am still studying currently but when the time comes i won';t be shying away from these subjects in interviews thats for sure, i am not anti overtime or anything i was just curious.

Thx

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
My official hours are 9 till 5 with an hour for lunch but, flexible an upto an hour each way. Also if i don't want to come into the office I can work from home by VPN, I just need to phone somebody up to switch my pc on at work.
The length of hours worked and crunch times seems to depend on what kind of development you are doing.
For Mobile phones , DS, PSP and XBLA the teams are small and the hours are quite resonable.
For teams that produce full console games expect to work long hours at crunch time (these arn't usually compulsary but they are in your best interest to put the effort in).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I'm a game designer and I have a typical work day of 9AM to 6PM with an hour lunch in there. The hours are pretty flexible and I've rarely had to work much overtime. I am also pretty diligent at work and do my best to get everything done. Some of the other designers have had to pull more overtime than me, but it is largely dependent on the projects we're working on. I pretty well always have the option to work from home, but I have yet to take it. I can focus a lot better at work.

I can't really comment on the the programmers and artists. In generally I think the artists have it the worst here in regards to over time because we're so under staffed. It is hard to find good artist applicants!

Quote:
Buster2000
For Mobile phones , DS, PSP and XBLA the teams are small and the hours are quite resonable.

Maybe at your company. The platforms matter much less than how the company is managed. We work with exclusively Wii and DS now and the DS teams have had to pull overtime before.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by Gaiiden
Believe it. You can also research more into EA Spouse.


Yay, the EA Spouse thing again. [rolleyes]

Please read the Game Developer magazine issue from last june/july on the EA Spouse story revisited.

If you can't find one, the basic summary is this:

Quote:
Summary of the article
Lots of studios have QoL issues. In the past, studios have had QoL issues. Undoubtedly in the future, a few studios and projects and teams will have QoL issues.

As a global company with studios in many nations, EA is a fairly big blanket -- and a few of those studios fell into the 'bad management' bucket. At the time EA's individual studios had roughly the same ratio of good and bad studios as the rest of the industry.

Somebody known as "ea_spouse" in her blog spoke out very loudly, complained the right people, caused a class action lawsuit, and had it settled. Since that time about four years ago, the bad management at that particular studio was replaced with better management. The company (in response to the complains) did some serious changes in their global leadership, and even changed most of their executive board, including CEO. In their new survey, EA fared better than the industry average (they overcorrected). The company has not yet broken out of the stereo type in spite of their overcorrection.

As an industry, the article describes that studios are generally better than they were, but it is still highly dependent on the individual studio's management. Some studios have problems with everybody. Or it might be within a studio: project A is wonderful but project B has problems. Or it might be just a group within the studio: the art team consistently has problems.

As an industry, QoL is fairly reasonable, can be better, and is improving. Individual studios and projects still run from wonderful to horrible. As an individual in the workforce, you must still go to every job with your eyes open to the current environment.

In my experience, there are really two big problems. The first problem might be that management can't or won't hire (or fire) the necessary people. The second problem might be that management can't or won't say "no" to their publisher or licensees.

Sometimes this might be due to money; Management may have accepted too big of a project, can't hire people, and can't cancel their contract without closing the business. Sometimes this is due to not firing people; I've seen two companies who wouldn't let people go who really should have been fired for surfing the web all day end never producing anything. Sometimes this is due to a bad contract; They agreed to specific content by a specific date and didn't realize they couldn't meet the scope. Sometimes this is due to managers who are just jerks. (I know a few.)

I have worked at several companies. I currently work at EA Salt Lake. At EASL (and Headgate before it what purchased by EA) I've never had to work mandatory overtime. I have been asked to work fairly light voluntary overtime, and done so, but this has been true of very company I've ever been at. There have been projects here at our studio that had zero hours of requested overtime. I attribute it almost entirely to the management, and also to co-workers who spend time working rather than surfing the web.

Unfortunately this is not true of all studios. Another local studio (not EA related) is currently rapidly losing employees to EASL. My current team has about half the workers come from them. All have complained about their former company's nepotism in management, 50+ hour mandatory weeks during regular work, more nepotism, insufficient equipment, and nepotism. The latest hires said they joined us when their former company threatened to fire them unless they signed an agreement not to work for EA for six months after leaving their company. Since we're a right to work state those agreement are almost completely unenforcable, and according to our most recent hires there are many programmers and artists preparing to leave en-masse FOR EA Salt Lake since we're hiring. (Yes Dave, I know you'll be reading this soon. )

Which reminds me, beware of any game company that requires you to sign a non-compete agreement. Many are not enforceable, most are never enforced, but you should always be careful. Be ESPECIALLY careful if they have a non-compete agreement with a single specific local company -- it means you probably ought to check out the other company as well.

Ignore the stories of Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt. Don't use Internet horror stories about any company to bias you (even my story about the company I didn't name above). The best thing you can do is find people who work at the studio and ask them questions directly. You could even accomplish this by spending a few hours in the morning and evening outside their building and asking questions to a few obvious geeks. If you see a bunch of people arriving and leaving at sane hours, you'll know they're pretty good. If 7:00 rolls around and nobody has gone home yet, you should probably investigate somewhere else.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I work 10am to 6pm. Or 9am to 5pm if I get up on time. Or 10am to 5pm if I work an extra hour the next day.
Many of the artists seem to work 7am to 3pm, because, they're strange...

I don't do overtime. I get 20 days annual leave and 10 days sick leave.

Pretty much standard office-job type stuff. Maybe even a bit more flexible than your standard office-job...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
This is why interview questions are so important. Often people interviewing you are regular engineers who have some experience. Interviewers always ask you if you have any questions regarding the company. Take advantage. You'll most likely get an honest answer (unless you're asking HR).


And as pointed out, EA Spouse is so old. I'm pretty sure all new US EA engineers (and all old engineers below SE2) are hourly employees (meaning paid overtime) due to a class action lawsuit settled(?) in California.


So yeah, try and use your interview question time to assess all the things about your potential place of work that are important to you.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
There's a lot of variation between companies and probably also some countries are better than others.
My advice would be if you're not prepared to work long hours, DON'T be a game developer. You might not have to, but when you apply for a job you can't really tell. I've had two jobs where they kept saying "crunch time is pretty rare", but in both it turned out they expected you to put in extra hours.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by frob
Yay, the EA Spouse thing again. [rolleyes]

Please read the Game Developer magazine issue from last june/july on the EA Spouse story revisited.


Quote:
Original post by dashurc
And as pointed out, EA Spouse is so old. I'm pretty sure all new US EA engineers (and all old engineers below SE2) are hourly employees (meaning paid overtime) due to a class action lawsuit settled(?) in California.


I think you guys are missing the point. The point wasn't to say, "Look, EA are such a bad company, look at what they do". It's just a well-documented example of the sort of thing that goes on in the wider industry, and the attitudes you may encounter in management. That particular company may have changed things - after a hell of a lot of pressure, and a lawsuit which should never have been needed - but similar situations apply elsewhere. As a precautionary tale of what to look out for, it is a perfect reference.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[b]well
I m always work at my office more than 15 hrs a day and it wsnt affect me i like to be here only solving undesirable behavior of code though its tough some time due to lack of sleep but i like it more to here rather that lying in bed at home every weekend i m also able to find some time to watch moves in fact in weekdays also.

sorry my post is not relevant to some of u guys but i m new to that industry just an year i want to achieve something its make me feel better rather than long hours of sleep.
last year i m present at my office near to 347 days. every day more than 12 hr as i remember .[/b]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[quote name='girishgap' timestamp='1295169630' post='4759574']
[b]well
I m always work at my office more than 15 hrs a day and it wsnt affect me i like to be here only solving undesirable behavior of code though its tough some time due to lack of sleep but i like it more to here rather that lying in bed at home every weekend i m also able to find some time to watch moves in fact in weekdays also.

sorry my post is not relevant to some of u guys but i m new to that industry just an year i want to achieve something its make me feel better rather than long hours of sleep.
last year i m present at my office near to 347 days. every day more than 12 hr as i remember .[/b]
[/quote]
WTF. That cannot be healthy. Which country do you work in... just wondering if there is a difference in culture here.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[quote name='girishgap' timestamp='1295169630' post='4759574']
well
I m always work at my office more than 15 hrs a day and it wsnt affect me i like to be here only solving undesirable behavior of code though its tough some time due to lack of sleep but i like it more to here rather that lying in bed at home every weekend i m also able to find some time to watch moves in fact in weekdays also.

sorry my post is not relevant to some of u guys but i m new to that industry just an year i want to achieve something its make me feel better rather than long hours of sleep.
last year i m present at my office near to 347 days. every day more than 12 hr as i remember .
[/quote]
In many countries that kind of schedule would be unlawful.

Good employers will not do anything like that. Good employers understand that a good work-life balance is critical for many reasons, including retention of talent and ensuring quality work.

QoL issues are not unique to game development. We tend to talk about it more than other industries. I actually worked more hours with more hostile scheduling when I was writing business software.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[quote name='yaustar' timestamp='1295213788' post='4759796']
[quote name='girishgap' timestamp='1295169630' post='4759574']
[b]well
I m always work at my office more than 15 hrs a day and it wsnt affect me i like to be here only solving undesirable behavior of code though its tough some time due to lack of sleep but i like it more to here rather that lying in bed at home every weekend i m also able to find some time to watch moves in fact in weekdays also.

sorry my post is not relevant to some of u guys but i m new to that industry just an year i want to achieve something its make me feel better rather than long hours of sleep.
last year i m present at my office near to 347 days. every day more than 12 hr as i remember .[/b]
[/quote]
WTF. That cannot be healthy. Which country do you work in... just wondering if there is a difference in culture here.
[/quote]



well I m currently in India, There is no difference in the culture, just we are love to being busy...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[quote name='frob' timestamp='1295294394' post='4760299']
[quote name='girishgap' timestamp='1295169630' post='4759574']
well
I m always work at my office more than 15 hrs a day and it wsnt affect me i like to be here only solving undesirable behavior of code though its tough some time due to lack of sleep but i like it more to here rather that lying in bed at home every weekend i m also able to find some time to watch moves in fact in weekdays also.

sorry my post is not relevant to some of u guys but i m new to that industry just an year i want to achieve something its make me feel better rather than long hours of sleep.
last year i m present at my office near to 347 days. every day more than 12 hr as i remember .
[/quote]
In many countries that kind of schedule would be unlawful.

Good employers will not do anything like that. Good employers understand that a good work-life balance is critical for many reasons, including retention of talent and ensuring quality work.

QoL issues are not unique to game development. We tend to talk about it more than other industries. I actually worked more hours with more hostile scheduling when I was writing business software.
[/quote]

Well,
I appreciate the your view ALSO trying to implement that , we are sole responsible FOR our health, carrier in gaming makes you happy/ satisfied.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

Sign in to follow this