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Getting out of the industry?

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Hi all. I'm a regular contributor to these forums but for (hopefully) obvious reasons have opted to be anonymous on this post (since it could adversely effect my current job situation).

I've been in the industry for a few years, having worked on numerous large and small titles. I've done a lot of both low level (systems porting, OpenGL, D3D, on PC, mobile, and console) and high level (game logic, etc) work, and certainly enjoy doing systems/architecture work.

However, I've found that although I do love working on games with both the freedom to be creative in solutions as well as working on interesting projects. I also certainly enjoy the culture (and the lack of cubicles at some companies) and the flexibility that comes with it.

There is one thing I hate, though, and I don't think I can deal with it anymore: crunch.

There have been projects where crunch has been mandated (or has been "voluntary") for months. Sometimes there are periods where this doesn't happen. It is beginning (heh, 'beginning') to adversely effect my health, my relationships, and the volatility of my personal time (of which I am becoming very protective) is extremely stressful. Simply put, I don't want to live my life this way. I have no desire to slave away 60-80 hours per week of my life for someone else's profit - I feel as though I'm driving myself into an early grave, and am doing less with the shorter life I have as a result. It isn't just a few projects - it seems to be endemic and planned at this point. At this point, my wife already wants me sending out resumes. I've also spoken to people at other companies, and this doesn't appear to be unique to where I work.

 

On the flip-side, as I said, I love the general culture. I don't like the culture of 'corporate' style companies. I don't want to be doing the exact same thing day-in, day-out (such as at a bank or something similar). I certainly don't want to move - where I live now is my home. The game industry isn't particularly strong here, either.

 

So, what can I do here? I sincerely enjoy what I do and where I work, but I feel that they ask far too much and I simply cannot sustain it any longer. What would be a suitable industry for me to move to? Should I (and if so, how should I) share my concerns with management?

 

Help!

Edited by BlueWizardo

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Does every single person at your workplace work that much?

Sounds like you could just ask them if there's any way to get out of overtime, as it's important for your wife. I think most people will understand that.

I assume they at least pay you for all the hours you work, in which case it shouldn't be that big a deal for anyone if a few people skip the crunch, probably a lot of people that are new to the job who like working overtime to get some extra cash.

Otherwise just apply to a bunch of other jobs and say that during the interviews, that if you have to work overtime several weeks at a time it will be a problem for you.

Edited by Erik Rufelt

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For the most part, yes, everyone is expected to contribute. I happen to have a somewhat specific skillset which isn't common, so I end up being expected to work more to get certain things functional.

 

There is, of course, no legal requirement to pay programmers overtime in the US.

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There is, of course, no legal requirement to pay programmers overtime in the US.

 

Not sure what that means, do they or do they not at your particular workplace?

If they expect you to work more because of a "specific skillset" and actually end up only paying you 65% of your negotiated salary per hour, then it's certainly time to find a new job. In addition you might have a pretty good position for negotiations to improve your situation.

I would recommend getting one or two job offers at other places, and then either just quit, or if you're feeling hopeful ask for a serious salary increase and max 48h weeks or something like that to stay on.

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Are these salaried positions or paid hourly?  I currently work in luxury hospitality and salaried positions are expected to work a minimum of 55 hours per week, so it is not just game industry specific.  I see a trend in a lot of business that they think the can tell their employees to work as much as they can and not expect people to look for work elsewhere.  Is work life balance not something that is embraced anymore?  If these are hourly positions I would think they would have no trouble getting people to work overtime.

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There have been projects where crunch has been mandated (or has been "voluntary") for months.

Keep in mind that it may be worse where you are, but it isn't restricted to the games industry. We had a lot of crunch last product launch - my team basically didn't sleep for three months, all the way up through the 1st and 2nd tier managers.
 

Where I'm from, overtime has to be voluntary, it has to be paid at double rates, and you have to be given an equal amount of time off in the future to recover. Failure to follow these guidelines results in a $30k fine per instance, for running an abusive workplace.

Sadly, the US doesn't work that way. Programmers are almost universally salaried, to avoid having to pay them overtime, and you are expected to work however long it takes to "get the job done". Pretty much luck whether you land on a team which can correctly budget their deliverables, and if the requirements change last-minute, you'll crunch regardless.

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1. What would be a suitable industry for me to move to?
2. Should I (and if so, how should I) share my concerns with management?


1. We can't answer that here. That's for you to decide, based on what's in your area and what fits with your personality and interests and talents.
2. You absolutely should. As for how, do it by presenting facts and not emotion. It is a fact, for instance, that you are considering leaving the industry. (But why you would leave the industry when there are anti-crunch companies I don't know.)

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So, what can I do here? I sincerely enjoy what I do and where I work, but I feel that they ask far too much and I simply cannot sustain it any longer. What would be a suitable industry for me to move to?


Honestly? Games. Try a different company. Some crunch near endlessly, some only crunch around major milestones, some barely ever crunch at all. As another poster stated, _every_ computer industry job you might get runs the risk of crunch, ranging from a little to lots. If you want to really avoid crunch, it might be time to learn some new skills and exit the software development field entirely. I hear Starbucks is hiring. smile.png

In my humble arrogant opinion, endemic crunch occurs because not enough staff are willing to say no to abusive working conditions, unless their colleagues are already doing so. Without a union movement to present a unified stand, or other role models to lead the way, it's hard to be *the guy* who takes a stand.


Unfortunately, the options are often "meet the publishers' schedule that we don't have the time or budget for, or shutdown the studio and lay everyone off." Sure, it's quite possible that this is because of managements' bad scheduling and negotiation, but the end result is the same: deal with it or be out of a job.

Where I'm from, overtime has to be voluntary, it has to be paid at double rates, and you have to be given an equal amount of time off in the future to recover. Failure to follow these guidelines results in a $30k fine per instance, for running an abusive workplace.


... is this Melbourne? I'm now really regretting not taking advantage of any Melbourne-based job offers... ;)

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This is why I prefer to keep gamedev a hobby.

 

Generally those with no commitment,  young people who are unmarried and are without kids are less likely to complain about excessive overtime and abusive working conditions and generally this is the demographic associated with gamedev true or not.

 

Have you considered going full indie,  self employed? That way you might crunch and you'll work hard long hours but you'll do them in the comfort of your own home around your wife and in a less stressful environment... 

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