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Crunch mentality is 'misguided and old-fashioned,' says Tim Schafer

"You don't realize until it has happened that you’re doing all this damage to your personal life by staying at work all the time.'

Tim Schafer is no stranger to crunch. Throughout his career, which saw him carve out a name for himself at LucasArts before co-founding Double Fine, he's often worked ungodly hours to meet looming deadlines and get games on shelves. 

When you look at the titles in Schafer's impressive portfolio, which includes critically acclaimed releases like Day of the Tentacle, The Secret of Monkey Island, Maniac Mansion, and Psychonauts, you might think the long hours and nights spent away from home were all worth it.

After all, the veteran designer is now one of the biggest names and most recognisable faces in the games industry. But the man himself says there's a price to pay for putting work above everything else, and hates to see crunch being glorified as some sort of rite of passage. 

In a recent interview with Lattice, published on Medium, the Double Fine co-founder recalls how his own crunch mentality impacted his personal life, eventually resulting in the breakdown of his first marriage.

"You don't realize until it has happened that you’re doing all this damage to your personal life by staying at work all the time," he explains. "You can mentally put the rest of the world on hold, but the rest of the world can’t necessarily be put on hold by you. I was so gung-ho about it. If you think someone will wait for you and tolerate you not being around -- well, people move on."

Schafer doesn't want anyone to repeat the mistakes of his past. He claims the notion that crunch is an unavoidable, necessary evil is plain wrong. And as one of the head honchos at Double Fine, he's made it his priority to eliminate the concept altogether. 

"It's misguided and old-fashioned," he continues. "People do that kind of work because they don't feel confident in their creative output. It's a mode you get into when you can’t see a successful, metered approach to the work you have to do.

"I get more intolerant of stress as I get older, more aware of the impact on my life and my health. I know to value my family more. Absence does not make the heart grow fonder. You can't be at work the whole time and expect your marriage to be healthy."

To hear more from Schafer, be sure to read the full Lattice interview right here.

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