It takes a lot of combined effort to make a video game happen. I once worked for a video game company doing QA (sorry, can’t say which), and the hours upon hours of work that multiple people in a plethora of different departments had to put in just to make a game that was far from AAA quality is absolutely immense. It’s a fact of the industry you probably have considered before, but believe me when I say that its hard to really grasp the day to day scope of just how much work goes into making a game when you’re actually a part of it.
The folks behind the upcoming Xbox One game “Ryse: Son of Rome” probably figured the same, and thought it might be humorous/insightful to share some fun facts regarding the game’s development through Twitter. One of these fun facts was that the folks at Crytek have purchased over 11,500 dinners for their staff as they made it through “crunch time,” a phrase used to describe a phase of development time when everyone is putting in serious extra hours of work in order to get the game ready for release.
At the time of Tweeting it, Crytek probably thought they’d receive nothing more than a few “Wow, that’s interesting!” comments, or perhaps some bad food puns. What they got, though, was something far worse.
Minutes after the fun fact was tweeted, the developer’s Twitter page exploded with angry statements targeted towards the game developer for making their employees go through crunch time. Specifics remarks included allegations that this would tear apart families, force children into lives of crime, or even make some involved turn to suicide before it was all over. As with most things on Twitter, though, some of these statements are ultimately more serious than others.
Even still though, I feel the overall tone of the majority of these negative comments was completely uncalled for. Yes, crunch time is a tiresome and trying endurance test that inevitably leads to late nights and early mornings, or even just sleeping at work, and yes there have been incidents where crunch time sessions went way, way too far (some of the statements of former EA employees support this), but as miserable as it can get to be a developer or member of a gaming staff during this period, its also genuinely accepted that this is part of their job.
It’s true that going through such an intense work period is sure to put a strain on someone’s mental well-being and personal life, but it’s somewhat immature to act like this is a burden exclusive to the game development industry, or a horror without professional equal. There are people all over the world that have to endure way worse in both their personal and professional lives than having to work serious overtime doing what they love for a more than respectable wage and, while that doesn’t excuse the more extreme cases of overworking employees in any industry, to outright accuse anyone of something so horrific as destroying families just because they did something that is industry standard at this point, is inexcusable, and horrifying once you take in just how many people lashed out against Crytek to such a passionate extent.
Ultimately there are too many unknown factors (including the exact details of this crunch time, and the personal situations of every employee who went through it) to draw a definitive conclusion regarding how warranted these Twitter attacks were. However, just by going off what is known, its safe to say that these attacks were mostly uncalled for, and serve as another unfortunate example of the all too common trend of gamers not being able to maturely raise an issue regarding something occurring in the industry.