Naughty Dog Reflects on Crunch: Changes, Experiences, and Organizing

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The crunch, another way of referring to labor exploitation, is one of the most reported problems by workers in the video game industry currently. Endless days during key periods of developments, unpaid hours, violation of rights … Naughty Dog has been the protagonist of this problem during the gestation years of The Last of Us Part 2, their own employees accused. Evan Wells and Neil Druckmann, current presidents of the Californian company, have been asked about it in an interview with Game Informer.

The price of crunch: Personal experiences of Wells and Druckmann

So much Evan Wells (Naughty Dog member since 1993) as Neil Druckmann (member of the company since 2004) have given an answer. “I have definitely worked very hard over the years. I think some of that has helped me get to where I am in my career, ”Wells begins, explaining the planning processes for projects before they begin development, as well as the production of them, a department where they have not had a permanent person delegated to these functions during their last projects.

Now, in his words, things have changed; all in order to improve the quality of life of employees and avoid burnout, which is called burnout or simply get burned. “Another thing we are focused on is increase the level of management in the study. We have more directors and more bossesAll of this with the ultimate goal of giving the entire team more opportunities to give their opinion and check their well-being ”.

Everyone has a different definition of what he means. crunch

Neil Druckmann, director of The Last of Us Part II, is less critical of himself, but also recognizes the need to evolve as the studio grows and matures. During its complex development, “we look at the quality of life to avoid wear and tear, to use the intellectual capacity that we have in our study, and we began to create working groups to talk about the areas of the study where we could improve. We worked in a particular way when we were 40 people, now we have to evolve as we continue to grow.

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“Everyone has a different definition of what it means to crunch. I suppose for us, we think of it as a way to ensure the well-being of our colleagues and everyone who works at Naughty Dog, which is a combination of how many hours you work and how much stress you feel, whether it is something that happens in the workplace. office or home. It seems to us that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Everyone has a unique situation that we must address”, He ends.

One possible solution is unionization, the union of workers to establish an association in defense of the labor rights of the employees of the same union. On the one hand, Wells finds it difficult because there are employees who want to dedicate that extra hour of polishing in a specific area of ​​the game to finish their work in the most satisfactory way; even after hours. Druckmann, likewise, believes that “We need multiple solutions” and approach the problem “from various angles” because you can always “leave someone behind” when you tackle blanket measures that affect everyone in the same way. They do not offer a possible concrete solution during the interview.

Naughty Dog, after The Last of Us Part 2, is already working on its first great multiplayer game and they leave the doors open to new installments of sagas such as Uncharted and The Last of Us.

Source | Game Informer

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