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Alex St. John: Shut up and be grateful for your 80 hour weeks

"Wage slaves" should "shake off mental shackles" says multi-millionaire. [UPDATE: St. John's daughter blasts his "toddler meltdown"]

[Update] By now you've probably all read Alex St. John's awful post about crunch in the games industry, but you may not be aware that Amilia St. John (his daughter who also got into tech) has replied with a lengthy post of her own. While the entire thing clearly has an air of family drama about it (she and her father have been estranged for years), it's well worth your time to read her rebuttal, which not only slams her father's "toxic waste trash fire," but more importantly talks about why getting more women involved in tech is vital.

"Women make up 29.1 percent of the tech industry, but only 16.6 percent of technical jobs. Women in technology is personal to me, and I feel it is my responsibility to share my experiences with other women," she says. "In a world where so many women are finally gaining the opportunity for a voice, the tech industry is quiet. And what my father seems to so fundamentally misunderstand is that this is NOT, as he insinuates, a result of women "claiming victimhood."

Original story:

If you're in the games industry and you've been on the internet in the last 48 hours, you've probably already caught the whiff of the fire ignited by Alex St. John's guest post on VentureBeat last Saturday: a virulent, aggressive and oddly self-aggrandising screed from a well known and hugely successful industry figure which bemoans the privilege and laziness of any developer who isn't willing to work 80 hour+ weeks in order to further their art.

Predictably, it's roused some passionate reactions.

"I can't begin to imagine how sheltered the lives of modern technology employees must be to think that any amount of hours they spend pushing a mouse around for a paycheck is really demanding strenuous work."

Whilst we won't link to the original piece here, if you've not read it already it's worth doing so via the lens of Rami Ismail, who penned a response to the post which seethed with barely restrained ire and disbelief.

In his frank assessment of St John's views, Ismail repeatedly questions the core assumptions of the original: that games development "is not a job, it's an art" and therefore anyone performing it has no right to regular hours or fair pay; that "pushing a mouse around" can never be considered hard work; and that anyone who doesn't want to put at least 80 hours a week into it is "taking a job from somebody who would really value it".

A few of Ismail's choice responses (in italics) to St. John's VentureBeat article follow, inline with St. John's original wording in bold.

"Many modern game developers have embraced a culture of victimology and a bad attitude toward their chosen vocations. They complain that the long hours and personal sacrifices great games require are a consequence of poor management."

"And rightfully so, structural crunch is a horrible attitude and can really damage someone's ability to function and enjoy their dream job."

"They want to pretend that they can turn an inherently entrepreneurial endeavor like game development into a 9-to-5 job."

"Wait, only entrepreneurs are entrepreneurial. People that are employed aren't entrepreneurs. The whole definition of entrepreneur is that if you mess up, the risks are for you. The definition of employee is that you work the hours assigned to you for a wage".

"Somehow, these people have managed to adopt a wage-slave attitude toward one of the most remarkable and privileged careers in the world."

"I'll give you that game development is a remarkable job, and I'll give you that it's a generally privileged career, but 'wage-slave'? Isn't that a tiny bit hyperbolic?"

It goes on, and it's very much worth a read, whichever side of that yawning divide you decide you're on. In it St. John also expresses disbelief that anyone could ever burn out whilst working in games, despite his ignominious exit from Microsoft; as well as "shock and disappointment" that his advice to developers to work insane hours for little reward so that their art can make millions for multinational publishers is so often met with rage.

Since publishing, the VB piece has attracted almost universal disdain, prompting St. John to follow up on his personal blog with a few more choice opinions.

"...caused shock and outrage among lazy millennial hipster game developers who think that long hours weren't priced into their paychecks when EA hired them"

"I just wrote a guest column for VentureBeat that apparently... can't figure out why... has caused shock and outrage among lazy millennial hipster game developers who think that long hours weren't priced into their paychecks when EA hired them," he writes. "They're really upset at the suggestion that 'Thinking' isn't really hard work.

"It's really interesting how IMPORTANT it is to these folks to pretend that making successful games isn't ALWAYS hard work and that the people who do it professionally are still SURPRISED that the expectation of hard work is already priced into their salaries when they took the job. It's also interesting that everybody insists on pretending that big companies like EA and Activision don't give all of their employees stock option packages as incentives to make hit games that drive up the companies [sic] share price. EA used to have a lot of unhappy employees who hated the work conditions, they left and founded Zynga. That's how we roll in the game industry!"

He continues.

"I made my first millions along with thousands of other kids at Microsoft working 120hrs/wk for years. It was a big sacrifice. None of the people I knew from that era regretted the incredible experience and skills they developed in that environment or the attitudes they cultivated towards hard work. It paid off for most of them. What's sad is that all of these successful people don't talk about the values that got them there because they don't need the hassle of being screamed down for being 'wealthy beyond good taste'. When did it become gouache [sic] for successful people to talk about what they really did and valued to achieve success?

"I never graduated from high-school, many of Silicon Valleys legendary founders never graduated from college. There's a reason for that phenomena that is worth understanding. Is it interesting how enraged so many people get when somebody successful talks about how their attitudes towards work hold them back? They really WANT to be identified as victims for some reason."

"Is it interesting how enraged so many people get when somebody successful talks about how their attitudes towards work hold them back? They really WANT to be identified as victims for some reason"

Whilst St. John's comments haven't attracted a great deal of sympathy, he's making explicit a culture which still persists at an intrinsic level in many parts of the industry, with a recent IGDA survey suggesting that up to two thirds of developers are still working massive amounts of unpaid overtime, with 70 hour weeks far from rare. Since, the association has followed up by publishing a list of the best companies to work for should doubling your work week for free not appeal.

All the same, big firms still defend the practice. Back in 2009, Rod Fergusson gave a GDC talk claiming it a necessary part of development, comments which were later defended by then Epic president Mike Capps. More recently, Crytek attracted criticism when it proudly announced that it had fed 11,500 dinners to its team during the development of Ryse, thanks to the evenings they'd spent at the studio. Then, several figures came to the defence of the company, including Warren Spector, Fergus Urquhart and Jason Rubin, although to a lesser degree of vehemence than St. John. Others, like Failbetter's Alexis Kennedy, have expressed different opinions, claiming that "Crunch is Bullshit" and a "a slippery steep-sided pit."

Have you been on the sharp end of crunch? Have you imposed it on your team? Is it a necessary evil, the result of poor management, or merely a chance to revel in joyful culture of development for twice as long as you might normally expect to? Have your say below.

If you have jobs news to share or a new hire you want to shout about, please contact us on newhires@gamesindustry.biz

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Latest comments (46)

Nick McCrea Gentleman, Pocket Starship3 years ago
I made my first millions along with thousands of other kids at Microsoft working 120hrs/wk for years. It was a big sacrifice. None of the people I knew from that era regretted the incredible experience and skills they developed in that environment or the attitudes they cultivated towards hard work. It paid off for most of them
The myth of the virtuous rich, clear as day. Not a single thought of the possibility of toiling similar hours but without the benefit of 90s era Microsoft stock options to make it all worthwhile at the end. He simply draws a direct line between his success and his own virtuous qualities. And the corollary, of course. If you've not made it, it's because you've not put in the effort! You're not virtuous!
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Chris Payne Managing Director & Founder, Quantum Soup Studios3 years ago
I made my first millions along with thousands of other kids at Microsoft working 120hrs/wk for years. It was a big sacrifice.
"I paid MY dues, and I'll be damned if any youngster is going to have it better than I did."

It's quite scary how openly this guy talks on his blog about manipulating staff for the benefit of the business...borderline sociopathic. What's even scarier is the idea that this is a common mindset amongst company directors. But I'm very grateful to St. John for shining a light on it. Ironically his guest article may well have the exact opposite effect to that he intended...
Have your say below.
In the site's entire history this is perhaps the article LEAST likely to require an invitation to express an opinion :)
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Laura Hutton 3d Artist, Ubisoft3 years ago
Here's a presentation by self proclaimed, 'The Saint'. He can have fun trying to recruit my Wife and 'GF'... honestly.

http://www.alexstjohn.com/WP/download/Recruiting%20Giants.pdf
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Show all comments (46)
Ellis Shale Sound Designer / 3D Artist / Level Designer, FingerPunch Games3 years ago
From what I can tell, this guy thinks he is God of software creation and believes if you're not exactly like him, then you're a cretin who shouldn't have a job in an industry you care about.

Seems like a utter K***jockey with no respect for the people who help him make his millions!
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Darren Adams Managing Director, ChaosTrend3 years ago
Indeed Ellis. I believe he has taken the words "Judge those by the standards which you judge yourself" a little too extreme in the realisation that maybe, just maybe you can create something wonderful without sweating blood. Some like to work extremely hard and I respect that, but not everyone is willing to sacrifice everything and there is nothing wrong with that either.

Exploitation is exploitation no matter how hard you try to wrap it up in sparkly paper and ribbon bows.
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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 3 years ago
The high art of commenting an article that isn't a comment, by choosing just the right picture.
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Marty Howe Director, Figurehead Studios3 years ago
am i right, in saying that video games is the only industry with crunch?
compare to Hollywood, or writing novels, or recording an album ie similar art forms.

The games industry just seems overall, to accept it as normal, where other industries dont?
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Petter Solberg Freelance Writer & Artist, 3 years ago
Well, if some self-proclaimed legend decides to spend twenty hours a day building his empire, then sure, go ahead. As a corporate strategy, exploiting people's need to do what they're good at, that's a different thing. If I could have a one dollar note for every rich guy who loves to pull the 'I started with nothing' cliché, I'd never have to buy toilet paper again.

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Petter Solberg on 18th April 2016 5:21pm

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Steve Peterson Marketing Consultant 3 years ago
As Rami says, if you want to work 80 hours a week for your own reasons, that's fine. The problem comes in when require employees to do that or lose their jobs... and you don't compensate them for that. The necessity for crunch should be diminished with changes in the industry, but certainly crunch times will be needed at times through bad luck or bad management or both. When such a time appears, I think good management would want to give everyone fair compensation for such effort -- and to make allowances for family issues or reasons why someone could not put in the long hours.

As a long-term business strategy, burning out your employees is not good at all.
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Chris Tihor Writer/Game Designer/Programmer 3 years ago
am i right, in saying that video games is the only industry with crunch?
compare to Hollywood, or writing novels, or recording an album ie similar art forms.

The games industry just seems overall, to accept it as normal, where other industries dont?
The software development industry in general is known for using crunch. My own experience as a junior developer years ago reflects that. But I'd say it has become less acceptable over the years. At least in my neck of the woods. Maybe San Francisco and other cities are different?

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Chris Tihor on 18th April 2016 5:57pm

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Robert Bantin Senior Audio Programmer, Massive Entertainment3 years ago
am i right, in saying that video games is the only industry with crunch?
compare to Hollywood, or writing novels, or recording an album ie similar art forms.

The games industry just seems overall, to accept it as normal, where other industries dont?
My wife works in the film industry (post-prod) and they always crunch at the end. So no, you're not right I'm afraid. Also, as someone also pointed out, other software industries crunch too.

Short crunches can work well, and can help cut-the-crap out of your game. The trouble is that some studios build crunch into their schedule as if it's a natural part of the dev cycle when it should only ever be used in an emergency, and never more than a few months. Despite what St John is saying about "sitting at a desk pushing mouse", the _work_ in done mostly in the brain, and the brain needs a chance to recover or else its functions degrade. That's just plain science.

...Also, if St John thinks that game development is just "sitting at a desk pushing a mouse" then I doubt he can remember anything about ground level game development: Memory loss being a classic symptom of sleep deprivation (most likely from excessive crunch).

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Robert Bantin on 18th April 2016 9:01pm

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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 3 years ago
am i right, in saying that video games is the only industry with crunch?
compare to Hollywood, or writing novels, or recording an album ie similar art forms.
As far as I know, other industries can have a similar "Oh fuck, get the work done before release quick!" mentality, but I've only heard of it with a couple of professions, on a couple of occasions - editing and mixing a film for a festival release, and proofing a book for an impending sale-date, for example. And it's definitely the exception rather than the rule.
The games industry just seems overall, to accept it as normal, where other industries dont?
Possibly because a) other industries have unionized professions and b) there's more care-and-attention to creating "art"?

Considering it more, actually, I think the closest other artistic/entertainment industries get to crunch would be musicians or orchestras touring. A lot of high-profile orchestras have (or at least, had in the past) grueling tour schedules, for example. But then, comparing apples and oranges, there, maybe?

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 18th April 2016 6:48pm

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wow, I almost thought it would have a /snark moniker at the end. Wow, talk about not understanding how fortunate and lucky one is, this guy takes the cake. Millions of people work hard their whole lives but very few are LUCKY enough to have everything fall just so, so that hard work =riches. This guy is rich not just because he worked hard, it was also because Xerox didnt know what they had, along with others. He is rich because of LUCK, and TIMING, and hard work. Without Luck and perfect timing, all hard work would of gotten this guy was tired.
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Shane Sweeney Academic 3 years ago
Outside the Indie Game sector, when was the last time a "wage slave" game developer converted to a million air?

Certainly not in my working career.
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Alex Barnfield Lead Engineer, 17-BIT3 years ago
More than anything else the fact that he believes working those kind of hours to yield good results startles me. I've worked in both scenarios and whilst crunch can be very effective for successive bursts it's counter productive when extended to the norm. The reduction of productivity working long sustained hours is well documented but this goes doubly for programmers, particularly those designing core technology that future work is to be built upon.
If you don't make the right design decisions early on then you treble your work load further down the line, and people working with little sleep and constant high pressure don't make good decisions - they churn out code without thinking.
That goes a long way to explaining the early iterations of DirectX.
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 3 years ago
120-hour work weeks? Hmm. If there's ever an Office Space remake, I know who's playing the boss in that or who (s)he'll be modeled on.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GjJCdCXFslY
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Rafael Brown Creative Director/Co-Founder, Digital Myths Studio, Inc3 years ago
I followed Alex St John ages ago before he fell into irrelevancy. He comes across in the posting as a spoiled sociopath. His hiring guide reinforces that even further. I'm glad that our industry has mostly moved away from this adolescent viewpoint.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Rafael Brown on 19th April 2016 8:42pm

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Bonnie Patterson Narrative Designer, Writer 3 years ago
When I read through the original piece, I had to go back and read it again simply because it sounded so much like a satire. But no, apparently it's for real.

The thing about defining games design or programming as an art... yes, practising an art is all well and good. Even between contracts I do a lot of writing, I analyse the writing of others to find out how they do the magic, I read about writing and game design, blah blah etc etc.

But the thing is, I am doing that in my own time, by my own choice, and I can stop whenever I want.

It's that last bit that's important.

If I'm exhausted and cranky and burning out on my current project, I can take a break. I can sleep on it. Get something to eat. Do something else for a while. Go look stuff up and proceed at my own pace. And then come back to things with a fresh mind.

A fresh mind is a valuable thing. When you've worked all your life in crappy conditions, for crappy managers, it's easy to forget that work doesn't have to be like that. Ever had a job where you bounce into the office in the morning because a) You're happy to be there and looking forward to playing with your work or talking to your co-workers and b) because you're allowed to wear comfortable shoes and bouncing is actually possible? It's on those days that you stop typing suddenly and say "Oh my god, I've just had the best idea!"

With a decent working environment, people are sick less because they are more rested and less stressed. They pull fake sickdays less because they're enjoying being at work, and they give less grief to their co-workers and receive less in return, causing less stress etc etc again. People who know they will get their time back, or get recompensed for it, are less reluctant to put in overtime when needed - all in all, it's a happy, bouncing sack of ferrets that produces better, fresher work and a much lower employee turnover.

Or you can have the grey office. You know the one. Big concrete towerblock, utterly sealed against daylight, slightly dodgy fluorescent lights that flicker just enough to make your eyelids twitch. Everyone just goes to their desk in the morning and sits with their head down because they are absolutely knackered, and the manager sits in an office overlooking the door in or out to monitor when everyone arrives, leaves or has a toilet break. Everyone's been working unpaid overtime for so long they've forgotten what it's like not to, everyone is stressed and irritable and everyone is scared of losing their job and looking for another one. The employee turnover is probably so high that if they stopped paying the recruitment consultants they probably could pay for all that overtime, and the only idea anyone has had this quarter is the idea to just say "F*** you" and walk out.

Quite simply, if your team is having to work 80 hours, or 120 hours or whatever... then you aren't employing enough staff. Whatever it is you're trying to do, you can't bloody afford it and should do what people do when they can't afford things:

Stop.

Stop stealing from your staff. Stop screwing up your own business. Sometimes no amount of wanting and shouting and motivational posters can make things happen faster - most things have a minimum amount of time in which they can be done. There is a hard limit, and no amount of "Working smarter" can make that happen.

Sure, there might be lots of improvements people can make to their processes, to their communication lines. Sure, even Utopia Inc. will have times when overtime is needed. Most places I have worked, I have leapt into overtime with glee. But management should always remember that unpaid overtime is the equivalent of taking £40 or more from their staff every night. It is not something you are entitled to demand from them in return for the privilege of having a job.

If you have people working 80 hour weeks and long, frequent crunches, you have, quite simply, calculated your budget and timescale incorrectly and it's time to start doing it to the spirit, as well as the letter of the law. And if your investors are the ones pushing for it, someone some time is going to have to stand up to them and say "Well, that's not how long it takes" or they are never going to learn,

And don't ask your staff to bring in their own pens. That's just cheap.
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Bonnie Patterson Narrative Designer, Writer 3 years ago
I think @Morville has it spot on in that the games industry came along after the heyday of unions, so there has never been anyone to give the industry a shake and say "Stop taking the [urine]".

Oh, a sidenote unrelated to Morville's post: I did learn something last year that might be useful to any managers out there who have too much work and not enough staff or money to pay for more.

Secretaries can be enormously useful. Just a temp who can, for example, write up bug reports from your forums in the right format for you to just copy-paste them into the system, turn scribbled bullet points into a proper change log - in general someone to handle the bits of the job that don't need your employee's specialist expertise and experience. Your expert employees should be doing only stuff that needs that big shiny brain you are paying for. Simple clerical work can be shifted onto the shoulders of someone who costs less and is an expert in being organized and lightening the load.

Seriously, best thing I learned all year.
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Alan Blighe Research Associate 3 years ago
@Marty Howe
I'm an academic, and we have this too. The attitude is similar - we should all work ridiculous hours because:
- we're lucky to be doing something we love
- all the extra work looks good on the CV/will help get grants in future/etc
- there are lots of junior researchers who'd love to throw themselves at it

Thankfully my current Faculty has a more healthy attitude to things!
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Alan Blighe Research Associate 3 years ago
@Bonnie Patterson
Related to my previous post, I completely agree with you. Part of the reason my current team's workload is healthier is because we have very good administrative support. It completely changes how we work.
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Guy3 years ago
"Whilst we won't link to the original piece here"
Why no? Don't you respect for your audience to critically read something you disagree with? At least not without filtering it through some other piece?

Reading into the original article, Alex casually mentions the word "crunch" only once (whereas the response from Rami mentions crunch 5 additional times - focusing entirely on it). Also, I'm not sure in what planet revolving our sun working 8-to-5 (the "wage-slave" attitude which ASJ criticizes) translates into an 80 hours week: The way I understood the original piece, Alex claims that you can *either* work long hours to chase your own dream (which he's supporting), or do regular office work and chase someone else's - but not both. It's just the "you can't have your cake and eat it" philosophy.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Guy on 19th April 2016 11:01am

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Chris Payne Managing Director & Founder, Quantum Soup Studios3 years ago
am i right, in saying that video games is the only industry with crunch?
compare to Hollywood, or writing novels, or recording an album ie similar art forms.
No. The VFX industry has a VERY similar crunch problem, and is unionising in the UK: https://www.bectu.org.uk/news/2515
And trying to in the US: https://vfxsoldier.wordpress.com/about/
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Marty Howe Director, Figurehead Studios3 years ago
thanks for all the answers.

Someone, start a union.
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Jordan Lund Columnist 3 years ago
His games aren't good enough to justify such an arrogant opinion.
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Richard Browne Head of External Projects, Digital Extremes3 years ago
What games? He doesn't have a worthwhile credit to his name. Right place, right time at MIcrosoft. Quite similar with Wild Tangent actually, but I'll absolutely given him credit for spotting the market for web based pap.
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Renaud Charpentier Game Director, The Creative Assembly3 years ago
Can someone tell us which great game that guy has developed to know so much about game dev?
I mean, to be so full of yourself you must have created Doom, or Starcraft or Shadow of the Colossus, something like that, no?

Because it was a useful piece of software, but I always felt the gameplay was a bit lacking in "DirectX".
/Kudos to Rami for his full answer.
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Hugo Trepanier Game Designer, Behaviour Interactive3 years ago
It doesn't matter which game he has to his credit. Such comments would still be retrograde no matter what, even if he was the inventor of Mario or any other iconic game creation. I say live your live in a meaningful way, stay true to your beliefs and respectful of others.
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Rafael Brown Creative Director/Co-Founder, Digital Myths Studio, Inc3 years ago
Keep in mind with Alex St John that his main contribution was helping to architect and ship DirectX as part of Microsoft in the late 90s. The rollout of DirectX was a huge impact. And he benefited from MSoft stock in a way that most actual game developers working at development studios never got the benefit of. He has never shipped something that could qualify as a groundbreaking game on any front. Wild Tangent did a series of web micro games and hasn't been a significant presence in a while. So Alex talking about game development shipping crunch as it is experienced most commonly in large corporate triple AAA development now (EA, Ubi, T2, Acti, etc) is confusing at best and disingenuous at worst.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Rafael Brown on 19th April 2016 8:59pm

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Heinz Schuller Art Director / Artist 3 years ago
I'm finding the "who is speaking out" on this incident just as interesting as "who is not", here and around the web.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Heinz Schuller on 20th April 2016 4:15am

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Adam Campbell Game Manager, Azoomee3 years ago
I'm not sure why in this industry people are still expected to work for free and enjoy it.
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Thomas Peter Technical Designer R&D 3 years ago
Attendance times says nothing about productivity. On my experience usually inefficient people work longer, so it's a bad sign when someone need 80 hours per week to fulfill his target. Someone with good organizational skills can only laugh at such dinosaur thinking.
The problem is that truly creative work only a few is still reserved. There you really forget the time. But simply work through code and meet specifications is really nothing where you can bring really great.
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simon scott Senior Technical Artist, SUMO Digital3 years ago
Its unfortunate that its usually people with mindsets, like Mr St John, that are the cause of the misery in certain circles in the Industry. His total lack of empathy and understanding in whats involved in real game development shine through in that article.

It's people like him in position of authority, treating their staff like untrustworthy school kids that should be grateful to work themselves to death to line his pockets, that is usually the cause of the crunch and long hours working on a project that's over promised and under budget to begin with, and indirectly cause the closure of studios..
Sadly it its also people like him that walk away from these messes and get instantly put in that same position of power again, while the workforce has to scramble about and find new work.
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Keldon Alleyne Strategic Keyboard Basher, Avasopht Development3 years ago
Jared Zimmerman, Design Manager & Lead @ Google on "why is working long hours frowned upon at Google?"
Long hours means an employee doesn't know how to find balance, if you can't find balance in one thing…can you find it in others?

Other reasons:
- Long hours keep you away from your family and friends
- Long hours are likely to cause burnout
- Long hours by one member of a team cause stress and imbalance in the dynamic of a team
- Long hours means someone probably messed up (not doing their work, misestimating timelines, failure to keep track of status, etc.)
- Long hours means you don't pursue your passions outside of work
- Long hours cost companies money, lighting, heating, security, etc. (infrastructure for just a few people rather than a whole office full)
I will add that it also adds in sick days and just an inefficient waste of human resources.

There are situations that call for periods of long working hours, and if so it is reasonable to reward the workers rather than soak up the benefits of their hard labour. It's tempting to want to spend all day coding, especially when you are passionate about what you are creating, but as Jared points out, it's all about balance.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Keldon Alleyne on 20th April 2016 3:18pm

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Sandy Lobban Founder, Noise Me Up3 years ago
This guy in the article clearly possesses very little people skills. People will walk through walls for you, and work 100 hrs a week, if they feel that they are also on the journey. The important part is to make sure they are.

Compare the next job ad you respond to, to this, and it'll give you a good idea about whether the company has a top down culture or a more inclusive and open one.

http://www.mindvalley.com/careers
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Tom Keresztes Programmer 3 years ago
There are plenty of reviews on glassdoor. Pros : good culture, cons: low salary, brainwashing management that not always follow through with ideas. It took me 10 minutes to find out what they actually do.

"Mindvalley, an education technology company specializing in innovation in education by introducing wellness, mindfulness and personal development into global education and lifelong learning."

As an engineer, what i see is that they seem to follow what they believe in, but their app is crashing frequently (based on appstore reviews). Great working culture for writers, perhaps, but not for the tech people. Which is typical for modern startups, in my experience.
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Connor Martin Aspiring game designer/tester 3 years ago
Perpetuating bad practices because they didn't hurt you is the same logic I'd tell people to run blind into a 4 lane road because "I didn't die". Also, didn't you yourself get somewhat famously "burned out" and felt a great relief not having to work anymore? This all reeks of desperately trying to be relevant and, if I might say so, bitterness that the modern employee doesn't take the shit you wish you didn't have to all those years ago.

As every person who has ever read your "article" has said before me, you stand shoulder to shoulder with some of the most untrusted and disgusting human beings in any and all workforces. Enjoy the ridicule.
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Sandy Lobban Founder, Noise Me Up3 years ago
@Tom I think you miss the point, that a company culture is usually reflected in the jobs ads and their commitment to recruitment and people. Either that or you are completely happy to jump on board with some one like the guy in this article without knowing anything about how you might be treated or valued in future. But each to their own.
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Tom Keresztes Programmer 3 years ago
@Sandy, @John

Precisely. The culture they building is nice, but engineering needs a very different environment. It needs discipline, long-term planning, as frequent unexpected changes both reduce job satisfaction and increase stress.
Another aspect of a culture like that that engineering is not exactly at the top of priority list, and feelings and discussion is more important than facts. Which is toxic for engineering, where the best idea has to win.

John has a good point - management in the games industry is fairly unique. So is the army. But they train their leads.

This is what it feels like to be an expert in an artistic company:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Tom Keresztes on 22nd April 2016 5:17pm

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James Berg Games User Researcher, EA Canada3 years ago
HIs daughter's response is pretty darn awesome - recommend folks read that as well.
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Keldon Alleyne Strategic Keyboard Basher, Avasopht Development3 years ago
HIs daughter's response is pretty darn awesome - recommend folks read that as well.
Click: http://www.wired.com/2016/04/alex-st-johns-daughter-wrong-women-tech/

Excellent article!
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Tom Keresztes Programmer 3 years ago
How many people have read the original piece?

http://venturebeat.com/2016/04/16/game-developers-must-avoid-the-wage-slave-attitude/

"
Any time I hear this stuff, I tell these people; quit, go make great games on your own, pursue your passion, you’re better equipped to succeed than any of the dozens and dozens of amateur kids I’ve seen retire early while you were still “trapped” in a job you hated and trying to rationalize mailing in a 40-hour work week making video games. To my great shock and disappointment, they never respond to this feedback with any sort of enlightenment or gratitude for my generous attempt at setting them free — usually, I just get rage. Being a victim of their employers has somehow managed to become a deeply cherished part of their core identities and any suggestion that they are far better equipped to rekindle their sheer passion for making games, do a Kickstarter startup with their other talented friends and crank out an original hit game, than a bunch of amateur kids working in Flash, is greeted with a lot of anger. They rant about the value of “work-life-balance”, how hit games can be delivered on a schedule with “proper management” and how they can’t produce their best work when their creative energies are tapped after a long forty-hour work week … sitting … at a desk…. Apparently people can even “burn out” working too hard to make … video games…."
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Keldon Alleyne Strategic Keyboard Basher, Avasopht Development3 years ago
For reference, I've read the original piece.

This stands out:
If working on a game for 80 hours a week for months at a time seems “strenuous” to you … practice more until you’re better at it. Making games is not a job, pushing a mouse is not a hardship, it’s the most amazing opportunity you can possibly get paid to pursue … start believing it, and you’ll discover that you are even better at it.

Don’t be in the game industry if you can’t love all 80 hours/week of it — you’re taking a job from somebody who would really value it.
I still think Jared nailed it when he said, "Long hours means an employee doesn't know how to find balance, if you can't find balance in one thing…can you find it in others?"

A clear, rested and well taken care of mind is much more effective. The state of flow is when the best code is written, and I guess some people are fooled into thinking they can force it by sitting at the desk for 16 hours a day. First day patches for your gold disk, sure I get that. It may be the case that periods of crunch are unavoidable.
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Tom Keresztes Programmer 3 years ago
Keldon, there is a big difference between forced to do 80 hours, or the person is driven to succeed, and wants to do the best he/she can. Without this attitude, there is a good chance the product will be a LEMON - all fellow developers praise it, but the general population will be much less ecstatic. Same in movies, vfx where there is a firm deadline - they too crunch.
Obviously, this need to be carefully managed, as letting people burning out is bad, and results in the same problem - a soulles LEMON product. Sensible managers ask for features done on time, not for long working hours. Constant crunch is a sign of problematic project or bad management.
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Keldon Alleyne Strategic Keyboard Basher, Avasopht Development3 years ago
You can be passionate, driven to succeed and wanting to do the best you can in 40 hours or even less.

I'm not pretending to be this uber disciplined monk of a programmer, I can clock out late, but I put it more down to a lack of self control than passion. Ascribing that behavior to passion rather than admitting a lack of discipline is much more pleasant on the ego, but I would much rather be honest with myself.

An unbalanced life that neglects the social, one's health and most valued relationships, unless it's a prudent sacrifice for the betterment of mankind seems a little unwise. An unbalanced population will topple under its own weight.
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Eric Byron Consultant, Byron Consulting Services3 years ago
I'm surprised nobody has commented about the science behind the 40-hour work week. Businesses didn't just arbitrarily pick 40 hours as the standard. Many studies showed that working more than 40 hours per week is less productive. Anyone who thinks they can work 80 hours a week and get more done than they would get done working 40 hour a week is just wrong. You can increase productivity in short bursts, a week or two, but extended periods of working long hours will degrade performance. Don't take my word for it. Look at the science. There are many, many studies that prove it.

You can start with Evan Robinson's article about why crunch doesn't work. He cites several good references.
http://www.enginesofmischief.com/makers/evan/pubs/crunch.html
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