The start of this piece has had around eight different versions simply because I'm confused, more than anything else. It's pretty common to see tone-deaf statements from the heads of gaming companies; it's been particularly rife surrounding Activision Blizzard and Ubisoft, surrounding the disgusting culture of rape, abuse and sexual predation within the companies. You don't often see the head of a company express how bad the working conditions of their studio are. Striking Distance Studios CEO Glen Schofield has done just this.
Let's jump into the tweet that has now been deleted while writing this piece. Also fair warning, mostly a commentary/opinion piece.
I only talk about the game during an event. We r working 6-7 days a week, nobody’s forcing us. Exhaustion, tired, Covid but we’re working. Bugs, glitches, perf fixes. 1 last pass thru audio. 12-15 hr days.This is gaming. Hard work. Lunch, dinner working. U do it cause ya luv it
It's almost baffling that a CEO has posted this, but he has. It's just absurd, and it's ridiculous for so many reasons. The first thing we know now is that Striking Distance Studios, developing the upcoming Callisto Protocol, seemingly has a disgusting- work culture of soul-destroying crunch.
They work 12 to 15 hours daily and six to seven days weekly. These numbers mean workers are working between 72 to 105 hours each week. Glen claims they aren't, using utterly pathetic lines like "This is gaming", "Hard work", and "U do it cause ya luv it" as a cover, but the reality is the games industry is notorious for how it treats people that do not kill themselves.
The workers who decide they want to see their family, their children, not to be miserable and not burn out? They will be overlooked regarding promotions, bonuses and other forms of progression. Their unwillingness to near-kill themselves to line the pockets of a person like Glen has led to hundreds of people being blacklisted and careers killed. Is Glen telling people, "if you don't crunch, this will happen"? No, I highly doubt this. The threats against employees are never explicit; they are implicit.
Where everybody else is talking about the post-launch content planned from Striking Distance for The Callisto Protocol, I'm more interested in the lives of the people making this game. I hope it's good, I hope it sells well for the sake of those making the game, but I never want any piece of work - game, film, or otherwise - to be made on the back of the misery of others.
When studios like Blackbird Interactive can delay Homeworld 3 (which looks excellent), working four-day weeks and improving employees' work-life balance and getting the best out of them, regressive attitudes like those from Glen Schofield need to be pointed out and challenged. We should have learned at least one thing over the past few years, life is too short, and we shouldn't kill ourselves working. The games industry should have known it after "EA spouse" 18 years ago.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.