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hawkeye_de

Work load as a software developer in the gaming industry

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I'm a developer but not in the gaming industry. I'd be curious how much the workload of a typical software developer (I know, there is no typical developer ;) ) is....is it really the case that 60+ hours/week are usual? 

 

I do not talk about peak times at the end of a project but regular working habits. 

Edited by hawkeye_de
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In my country (Australia), asking someone to work more than 38 hours as routine is illegal, under threat of a $30,000 fine, per person, per instance.

 

If you have to work over 38 hours for a short period of time, then legally those extra hours have to be given back as time off, so that over a "reasonable period" (generally a fortnight or a month) your hours per week average back out to 38 or less.

 

In "crunch periods" -- usually the time where a game is almost ready to ship, the deadline is looming, but you've got a huge list of bugs to squash still -- I have been asked to work 50 hour weeks... but for me, that was very unusual. I've actually seen quite a few people resign because of this request (staff taking it as a sign of poor management, and getting out before things get worse).

 

[edit] I forgot, at the local EA office down the road here, they do not hire "employees", but instead force everyone to be a "contractor", which makes them somewhat exempt from these employee protection laws (well not really, but there's no union to tell the workers that they actually do have rights despite the smokescreen), and also lets them do other nefarious things, like state that the worst performing 10% of the office will not have their contracts renewed at the end of the year, which silently encourages everyone to do voluntary overtime...

Take this with a large grain of salt. I don't have first hand experience there, and only hear these things through the local game development grape-vine (the alumni of the local developers is very incestuous - everyone is about 2 degrees of separation apart). They've also basically fired that whole team and instead bought up and merged together a bunch of other local companies since I heard these stories, so the internal culture might have gotten better... [/edit]

 

In other countries, things might be different.

Edited by Hodgman
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Regular hours are typically 40/week in US studios. Some studios still embrace "crunch time" where hours can spike to double that if things get out of hand.

 

Thankfully, more and more shops are learning that crunch is idiotic and starting to shy away from it.

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I used to work 60+ hours a week easily. I did it for years.

Now I have other responsibilities, so I work a bit less (I work 10 hour days most days).

Some people on my team work less than I do, some work more. I work the hours I do (or did) because I wanted the game to be the best it could possibly be. I've always managed my own hours. Good teams find ways to make good games without killing their employees. Bad teams find ways to kill their employees without producing anything worthwhile. I've worked on both.

It's always best to take on jobs that align to your values and expectations.
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This survey: http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/188671/game_developer_qualityoflife_.php gives an impression that 60+ hour weeks are relatively rare (approx 7% of respondents said their typical working week was above 60 hours) to be honest that's still ridiculously high.

 

Myself, I'm a games industry programmer in the UK and I work a flexible 30-32.5 hour week with little overtime and often work from home, but that's largely because it's forced upon me by some difficult personal circumstances, and I took a pay cut to reduce my hours from 40. 

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I'm a developer but not in the gaming industry. I'd be curious how much the workload of a typical software developer (I know, there is no typical developer ;) ) is....is it really the case that 60+ hours/week are usual? 

 

I do not talk about peak times at the end of a project but regular working habits. 

 

I have been asked to work overtime on occasion.  Outside of those occasions I work a traditional work week.  I can take time off when I ask for it, and my employer doesn't watch the clock, they watch the deadlines to ensure that the work gets done.  Programmers generally are salary employees rather than hourly employees, and consequently if they get the work done that is generally enough.  

 

Most managers I have worked with in the games industry only care that the project is on schedule, they don't watch the clock.

 

When I worked on business software (outside the games industry) I was asked to work longer hours more often.  I was also asked to work more weekends and evenings since business software is seen as a support to the main business and gets to publish their updates during the off-hours.

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I think, I've to migrate to Australia ...better weather than in Germany and 38h/week, sounds good smile.png

 

I'm developing business software and in the past I did a lot of overtime work (I am only writing a simulation game as my hobby). Then I've realized if I continue those insane working hours, I'm burned out sooner or later and life is just too short for this. So, I've reduced my working time and had no problems, because my standing in the company was pretty good.

 

Now, we have introduced Lean and Scrum. Is that also common in the gaming industry? I've nothing against the key principles of Scrum but now guess, what (some) manages uses this framework now for - especially those managers, who have no clue about software developing. at all:

 

They think...oh, great, now I'm running a 'software' factory: The developers commit for backlog items and at the end of the tact they get blamed if they have not fulfilled their backlog items. Again the pressure raises up and the quality goes down - to get the work done...

 

So, feel lucky if you have managers who were developers in the past...

Edited by hawkeye_de
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I am in China,workload here is usually about 60hours/week indeed.

Sometimes still need to do over time works,but it's common for us,my colleagues and I didn't feel tired,cause such time is happy as we are doing things we love.

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