Most studios have a very casual work culture. Employees can dress casually and address coworkers and leadership in a casual manner. Employees are encouraged to keep open communication amongst peers and leadership and have open discussions about the studio and the game beign developed. Open communication among individuals often leads to improvements in production or the game. Coworkers will often befriend each other and hangout outside of work.
However, some large studios will heavily discourage open communication. Management will care more about your work and participation in Crunch than your health and well-being. Sexual harrassment issues that get brought up to management may never get addressed and can lead to a very toxic bro-culture. Contract workers may feel resentment towards the studio because they get treated poorly. Any challenges to management will likely affect your career prospects, especially if you are a contract worker. At large AAA studios, there is a tendency to layoff staff on short notice. Mass layoffs may be due to studio closure or the business's interest in reducing overhead costs.
It's very common at a games studio for employees to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA). By signing a NDA, you agree to not discuss the game you are working on with individuals not involved in the project. If details of a game are leaked, it could have an affect on a games success, and reduce the impact of the game's marketing strategy. If you are caught for leaking information or source material, you will be reprimanded.
Crunch is a period of overtime that can last between a few weeks to several months before a game's release. Crunch is a common occurrence in both AAA and indie game development. Although Crunch is voluntary, it is heavily encouraged that all developers participate in it.
Because of the creative nature of game development, some believe Crunch is an inevitable part of the Games Industry. Others believe that Crunch can be avoided with proper planning, decision making, and business flexibility. Either way, passion and business success are both key factors as to why Crunch occurs.
Participating in Crunch often puts developers under a lot of stress and fatigue for weeks to months. The longer Crunch goes on, the greater the chances of burnout. Developers that experience burnout often need to take weeks of vaction time to recover. Sometimes, burnt out developers quit working at the studio they are employed at, and eventually seek out career opprotunities with a better work-life balance. More often than not, this results in developers leaving the Games Industry to pursue more stable and lucrative careers in the Tech, Finance, Insurance, and Marketing Industries.
In an effort to combat the issues of unpaid overtime, unfair wages, job insecurity, discrimination, and sexual harassment, a grassroots advocacy group started called Game Workers Unite. GWU’s goal is to encourage game industry workers around the world to unionize.
Unionization allows Game Industry workers to take collective action in negotiating work hours, pay scales, and benefits with their employers. Union representatives can also help workers to take legal action for underpayment, harassment, and wrongful termination.
In France, the STJV was formed as an independent union for workers in the video games industry. In the UK, Game Workers Unite UK was formed as a branch of the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB). Their purpose is to fight for better working conditions and benefits, provide legal assistance, organize strike against employers, improve diversity and inclusion, and maintain job security.
The benefits of a union greatly outway the costs, with the aim of bringing about a healthier environment for game developers.
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