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Why doesn't the law do justice for the game industry?

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So far, I have worked for one and a half years and I seem to notice that for the game industry, crunching is impossible to avoid. While I can understand that deadlines are to be met, it shouldn't come to extremes such as working on double shifts and getting unpaid still. 
 
My question here is unlike other fields where law puts them to justice, why is it that law can't do the same for the game industry as a whole?

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My question here is unlike other fields where law puts them to justice


I am unfamiliar with other fields. Can you give some examples of the laws you're referring to?

 

 

Other fields as in working on simple stores, supermarkets, bakery etc. Some laws I'm referring to are working hours, and laws relating to payment to employees.

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My question here is unlike other fields where law puts them to justice


I am unfamiliar with other fields. Can you give some examples of the laws you're referring to?

 
Other fields as in working on simple stores, supermarkets, bakery etc. Some laws I'm referring to are working hours, and laws relating to payment to employees.


The laws in question, at least in the United States, are geared towards hourly workers. There are exceptions for salaried workers, but for the most part, if you work salary, you work whatever hours are required for the same pay. Edited by MarkS

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While I can understand that deadlines are to be met, it shouldn't come to extremes such as working on double shifts and getting unpaid still.


Cap'n, you're supposed to be paid. If you're paid hourly, then you should get paid for the hours you work. If you're paid a salary, then you're being paid.
 

The laws in question, at least in the United States, are geared towards hourly workers. There are exceptions for salaried workers, but for the most part, if you work salary, you work whatever hours are required for the same pay.


Exactly. Edited by Tom Sloper

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So far, I have worked for one and a half years and I seem to notice that for the game industry, crunching is impossible to avoid. While I can understand that deadlines are to be met, it shouldn't come to extremes such as working on double shifts and getting unpaid still. 
 
My question here is unlike other fields where law puts them to justice, why is it that law can't do the same for the game industry as a whole?

Crunching is definately possible to avoid. Crunch is a result of management failure, but the front-line workers get the punishment (non-voluntary and/or unpaid overtime)... So why go along with that? It's not fair at all! So just say no, and don't do it.

There's plenty of games studios that Don't do crunch™ by the way.
 
It also depends what country you're in. Here in Australia, it's illegal to ask an employee to work more than 38 hours a week on average. If you need them to temporarily work more than 38 hours, then you have to pay them for those extra hours (at an increase overtime penalty rate), and give them enough time off in order for their average hours to drop back down to 38.
However, crunch still happens. People don't know their rights, people don't want to "rock the boat", the boss convinces people that he can't afford to pay them fair compensation, etc... which is a shame, because you don't have to put up with such abuse. Just say no. 

 

If everyone says no, then crunch culture ends.

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If everyone says no, then crunch culture ends.

 

 

It works both ways.  

 

Come to work, work all day, and then go home. If the project is outside of scope it is the project management's fault.  However, if people come to work, watch netflix and hulu and youtube, then at the end of the project discover the project it outside of scope, it is still management's fault for not firing the bad worker earlier, but also the worker's fault for not working when they were supposed to work.

 

Those who work all day every day can happily wave at management as they quietly leave on time, even during crunch requests. These people also tend to arrive bright and early in the morning and tend to appear quite productive relative to others on the team.

 

Then there are the others on the team. Those who arrive late, watch movies, or surf the web all day during the project might sheepishly leave with the others, or still be there late at night, and would generally be the ones at crunch where the steady workers ignore crunch requests.

Usually those same people who struggled to actually work were the ones hit by seasonal end-of-project layoffs.  

 

 

If everyone actually works through the workday through the entire project, and if everyone agrees not to do crunch, then it ends and people are transformed into responsible adults. In that office everyone was quietly working by 9 am, and the office was a ghost town before the evening rush hour.  Zero crunch yet the work got done.

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If everyone says no, then crunch culture ends.

 

 

It works both ways.  

 

Come to work, work all day, and then go home. If the project is outside of scope it is the project management's fault.  However, if people come to work, watch netflix and hulu and youtube, then at the end of the project discover the project it outside of scope, it is still management's fault for not firing the bad worker earlier, but also the worker's fault for not working when they were supposed to work.

 

Those who work all day every day can happily wave at management as they quietly leave on time, even during crunch requests. These people also tend to arrive bright and early in the morning and tend to appear quite productive relative to others on the team.

 

Then there are the others on the team. Those who arrive late, watch movies, or surf the web all day during the project might sheepishly leave with the others, or still be there late at night, and would generally be the ones at crunch where the steady workers ignore crunch requests.

Usually those same people who struggled to actually work were the ones hit by seasonal end-of-project layoffs.  

 

 

If everyone actually works through the workday through the entire project, and if everyone agrees not to do crunch, then it ends and people are transformed into responsible adults. In that office everyone was quietly working by 9 am, and the office was a ghost town before the evening rush hour.  Zero crunch yet the work got done.

 

 

Ok then explain this...then why do majority of games in development have deadlines that are almost borderline impossible to accomplish?

 

How can a game like angry birds take about one week to complete if

 

1. Level design is to be done carefully

2. The physics/programming has to be done right and

3. The marketing has to be done proper?

 

I just don't understand this another aspect. Politics often claim gaming as a sort of a threat and ban certain games across various countries like how Mortal Kombat is banned in Australia and yet the law doesn't do any justice for the hard working staff who do honest work.

 

Like how isn't Konami in trouble knowing of their bad treatment to their employees? Its just ridiculous.

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...why do majority of games in development have deadlines that are almost borderline impossible to accomplish?
 
How can a game like angry birds take about one week to complete...

(citation needed) Edited by Nypyren

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It's not necessarily a majority. Impossible deadlines happen because management either negligently or ignorantly lies to the investors, and gets an impossible project approved.

Or if management is the investor, they first do it out of ignorance, and then fail to learn from their mistakes. If their staff save the day by working for free, then that actually enables them to not learn from their mistake, because their mistake becomes a personal success -- they got free labor! Once they've ended up in that situation, why wouldn't they keep doing it and getting more and more cheap labour?

If your country has labour protection laws, you need yo report these abusive employers. If not, then you need to make a personal choice to say no, or form a union to get every to say no at the same time.

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... how can a game like angry birds take a week ...

I believe you are confusing "Angry Birds", a great game with hundreds of levels and great puzzles, with flappy bird, a terrible game with near-impossible mechanics that went viral for being incredibly hard, where you need to survive big hops through tiny gaps and few people are able to pass through more than about 5 holes and passing through 10 is an amazing feat.

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Usually those same people who struggled to actually work were the ones hit by seasonal end-of-project layoffs.  

If it worked just like you said, the problem would fix itself. It does not. Thus why the situation is as it is right now.  

Edited by TheChubu

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Japan is notorious for "karoshi" ("overwork death"), not only in the game industry. See the Wikipedia entry.

 

Ok so I looked up into it....so this applies to even companies like Nintendo?

 

Also, why isn't the government doing anything about it?

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Japan is notorious for "karoshi" ("overwork death"), not only in the game industry. See the Wikipedia entry.

 

Ok so I looked up into it....so this applies to even companies like Nintendo?

 

Also, why isn't the government doing anything about it?

 

 

The idea is ingrained throughout Japanese culture.  Part of the whole "pursuit of perfection" that came out of their history.  Japanese culture isn't taught to rock the boat and speak out so everybody does it whether they like it or not.  Government won't do anything about it when they do it themselves.  South Korea is probably just as bad but they work crazy hours for other reasons.

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Japan is notorious for "karoshi" ("overwork death"), not only in the game industry. See the Wikipedia entry.

 

Ok so I looked up into it....so this applies to even companies like Nintendo?

 

Also, why isn't the government doing anything about it?

 

 

The idea is ingrained throughout Japanese culture.  Part of the whole "pursuit of perfection" that came out of their history.  Japanese culture isn't taught to rock the boat and speak out so everybody does it whether they like it or not.  Government won't do anything about it when they do it themselves.  South Korea is probably just as bad but they work crazy hours for other reasons.

 

 

And yet, corporates like Nintendo value family matters. I still am not able to understand this whole thing here since Japan is under continuous fluctuation in terms of the economy so what's the point of this insane working hours?

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What constitutes "family values" in one culture is not necessarily the same thing in another culture, as well. It may not even be precisely normalized over a single culture, in fact. So it's not necessarily a contradiction that a company claims to support "family values" and also supports excessive working hours. shrug

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Ok so I looked up into it....so this applies to even companies like Nintendo?
 
Also, why isn't the government doing anything about it?


What (specifically!) would you like them to do about it?

When the companies violate their local labor laws the employees need to complain to the government and inform them of the violation.  This *DOES* happen, and I have been among people who have filed claims with the state.  I also know people who went to prison for several years for violating both labor laws and tax laws.  The tax law was the bigger thing; the state cares moderately for the workers who aren't paid for their time, they care quite a lot when those unpaid hours become unpaid taxes.

When companies violate civil law, people can sue. But those laws are for private parties to sue over, the government doesn't generally do it on their behalf.  I personally know people who have taken their employers (and former employers) to court for civil violations and won.  
 

Note that a key element is the workers need to complain to the right sources, either the government's offices for employment law or to the courts for their own violations.

 

 

Many employers who play fast-and-loose with the rules get away with it because relatively few people are willing to complain. It seems like only a few hours, or the paycheck is only a few days late, and it is an enormous risk to report it and risk getting fired. Even if the person isn't directly fired, there is always a new round of seasonal layoffs a few months away.

 

Also, there are many workers who stupidly sign away rights. The companies may have asked their lawyers to be mindful of overtime laws and included a clause that overtime rates are the same as regular hour rates, which the law may allow when they are 'negotiated' as terms of the contract.  Very few workers will carefully review their agreements or have them checked by a lawyer,

and most companies will not allow any modifications to the agreements and treat them as a 'take it or leave it' offer.

 

Incidentally, these are also reasons for the periodic cries for unions and trade guilds for software developers.  Unfortunately the enormous numbers of specialties have so far made it extremely difficult for unions and trade guilds to be established primarily because workers aren't interchangeable.  One journeyman plumber is roughly interchangeable with another journeyman plumber. Electricians of the same level are basically interchangeable.  While their artistry varies, one master stonemason is roughly interchangeable with another master stonemason. But two programmers with similar skill sets are may or may not be easily interchangeable because they are fluent with different languages, different technologies; both may be similarly skilled with CRM tools, but one knows SalesForce and another knows Goldmine, and while they are similar they are different enough that the two are not interchangeable

Combine all the reasons and frequently there is little the government can do.  People sign away the rights that they have, people are reluctant to take the cases to the government.  The best defense is to learn your rights, educate your peers, and advocate whenever you can.

 

 

 

But when issues finally do get reported, and when the government investigates and discovers there was a violation, the bureaucratic wheels start churning, and tend to crush the businesses into compliance long before courts are involved.

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Ok so how do companies from Japan work out things? Like Nintendo for example?


Japan has arguably the most intense crunch culture ever. The upshot is that it is completely in line with Japanese corporate culture, which is incredibly demanding and intense (in other words no matter the industry you're probably sleeping at the office 1-2 nights a week). Crunch is the norm, not the exception @ Japanese companies.

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