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Tim Schafer on crunch: 'Change the mentality that it's just part of the system'

Double Fine founder Tim Schafer believes studios must do more to dispel the entrenched view that crunch is an unavoidable part of game development.

Chris Kerr

July 20, 2021

1 Min Read

Double Fine founder Tim Schafer believes studios must do more to dispel the entrenched view that crunch is an unavoidable part of game development. 

Speaking to The Washington Post about creating Double Fine's long-awaited sequel, Psychonauts 2, the veteran designer admitted the Microsoft-owned studio has been guilty of crunching in the past, but said that's precisely why it's important to push back when those familiar (and decidedly unhealthy) habits start to rematerialize.

"We tried to find different ways to not have crunch and we’ve gotten better, but a couple of projects have been in trouble and needed to have a lot of extra work," Schafer concedes. "This last year has been interesting for everybody. Everyone’s at home [and] you’re trying to monitor to make sure no one’s overworking, but everyone’s life is so hidden from you during quarantine that it’s been more difficult."

For Schafer, cultivating a healthy work-life balance hinges (at least, in part) on recognizing those early warning signs and acting decisively. Slipping back into a dangerous cycle is all too easy, especially when it's been the norm for so long. 

"The important thing is to try to change the mentality that it’s just part of the system. Some people are like, ‘Well, it’s just part of making games,’ but it’s only part of making games if you choose to not make it a priority," continues Schafer. "You’ve got to actually see the quality of life of the team as something that you can’t lower just to make a deadline."

You can hear more from Schafer by checking out the full interview over on The Washington Post.

About the Author(s)

Chris Kerr

News Editor, GameDeveloper.com

Game Developer news editor Chris Kerr is an award-winning journalist and reporter with over a decade of experience in the game industry. His byline has appeared in notable print and digital publications including Edge, Stuff, Wireframe, International Business Times, and PocketGamer.biz. Throughout his career, Chris has covered major industry events including GDC, PAX Australia, Gamescom, Paris Games Week, and Develop Brighton. He has featured on the judging panel at The Develop Star Awards on multiple occasions and appeared on BBC Radio 5 Live to discuss breaking news.

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