Be warned. This is a rant.
I want to make something very clear. Just because something is seen as normal does not mean that it is right. There was a time where slavery was normal in the United States of America. It was an everyday thing. It was accepted, and even seen as good by many, but did that make it right? Hell no. Slavery was evil, is evil, and is a stain on the history of this country. You won’t hear too many people, other than racists, try to justify slavery today by saying that it was “normal”. Why then, am I hearing from all kinds of people, that what happened at Bioware isn’t that bad, because it is normal for the games industry?
Overwork and crunch is normal in the game industry. It is also normal in many industries from film to construction. When you think about it, overwork and crunch are normal in just about every job, at least in America. This is the norm. This is also wrong.
It has been proven that productivity goes down after 40 hours, and the total upper limit is 60 hours. Everything is downhill from there. The longer a person is at work, the longer they’re away from home. The longer they’re away from home, the longer they’re away from family, chores, etc. Take all the stress you have from work and add all the stress you get at home where it seems like everything is falling around you. You’re working so long that you don’t have time to cook, clean, relax, for basic hygiene, and even sleep. Your family also starts to feel like they’re unloved because they never see you. I know all of this, because I’ve been through it. It’s not fun, and it does cause breakdowns. My last breakdown left me without a job, and now, I’m in a worse place than I was then; however, my productivity at work was also going down before I got fired because I was being over worked. Stressed at home, and stressed at work. There is no relief. People die because of this. Stress will kill you, and yet employers do not care. This has to stop, and it needs to stop now.
Let’s back up a bit. Besides stress, fatigue, etc. Let’s looks at productivity. We know that companies and corporations want something done for as cheap as possible, right? This is why these horrible business practices continue. The funny thing is that these practices DO NOT SAVE MONEY! Overwork leads to lower productivity. That not only means that it will take longer to make a product, but that product may come out “broken”. A bad or mediocre product costs you money. People will not only avoid buying the product, but will also avoid doing business with you. I saw that all the time in construction. Factor in severance and lawsuits for worker abuse, your company didn’t save anything! If you would’ve limited work to 40 hours, and maintained a healthy work environment, you would’ve released a better product, got more people to purchase your product, got more people willing to work with you, sewed in good will, and wouldn’t have to pay any money in severance and court fees. It’s a win-win, but for some reasons companies don’t understand this. It would still be unacceptable if these practices were profitable, but the fact is that they are not. Knowing this, it really seems like companies are treating their employees like crap just for the fun of it, and it needs to stop.
My point is, companies in every industry need to stop treating their employees like crap. They’re people. Treat them like people. You reap what you sew. If you want good, then put in good.