While crunch has often been considered a necessary evil in game development, one of the biggest companies in the industry is taking a stand against it. Embracer Group, which came under the spotlight earlier this year after a massive round of acquisitions, shared a video from one of its studio’s HR heads explaining why the crisis in the gaming industry should be a thing of the past.
The video comes from Dambuster Studios, the developers behind Dead Island 2, which is due out soon on February 3, 2023. As the studio enters what can be considered a critical period at other studios, the director of human resources of Dambuster, Helen Haynes, shared why she thinks crackling shouldn’t be necessary.
Having worked in human resources in other industries, Haynes explains that many other industries work to deliver projects on important deadlines without having to resort to “ridiculous” critical practices. “The games industry isn’t that special,” he says, denouncing crunch as “right of way, ego, macho crap.” [that] It doesn’t have to happen.”
Haynes says that many of the techniques used to manage such demanding deadlines in other industries can and will work in game development, but he still encourages the studio’s human resources to keep in mind the unique needs of the industry.
As for how studios can protect themselves against crises, Haynes has a few suggestions. One is for the industry to invest more in counseling for its employees rather than arbitrary disciplinary action to safeguard the mental health of workers. Haynes also calls out the highest levels of the industry, saying managers and leaders need to take better care of their teams.
With a host of studios under the Embracer Group, including Gearbox Entertainment, Crystal Dynamics, the THQ Nordic group, and more, it’s encouraging to see the company taking a public stand against the crisis. In recent years, the term has been associated less with bragging rights and more with poor working conditions. Embracer subsidiary Gearbox is another studio that has publicly rejected crackling, saying the practice was never required of developers working on Borderlands 3.
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