What drives game developers to crunch?

Tanya Short takes a closer look at the reasons developers see crunch time as a necessity, despite knowing that it isn't an effective way to work in the long-term.

“The truth is that many game developers crunch ourselves. We choose the risks of overwork over the risks of idleness. We are conspirators in our own self-destruction, whether we work for big companies or we work for ourselves. Even as we say we disapprove, we also tend to say it is necessary, or unavoidable, or some other word that absolves us of our decisions.”

-Game designer Tanya Short on why game developers have embraced crunch as a necessary evil. 

Crunch isn’t exclusive to game development, but the industry has seemingly embraced the idea of long work hours as a necessary evil required to bring a project to completion. In a story for Waypoint, game designer Tanya Short examines the unique relationship the game industry has with crunch and the different reasons developers work themselves to the bone.

Short lists ten ways the game industry has embraced and justified crunch that most developers can probably relate to, but she shares it in hopes that the game development community will be able to work together and combat the common crunch excuses. 

"In case you're not aware, science has found again and again that crunch is harmful. It's a lifestyle that is less likely to welcome people with dependents, disabilities, or diverse life passions," said Short. "Over 45-hours of work for over 2 weeks certainly harms the quality of games. Besides, it's inefficient."

At her own studio, Kitfox Games, Short takes inspiration from developers like Klei Entertainment to encourage her team to work at a healthy pace. She’s well aware that crunch has become a necessary evil of game development, but firmly believes that being aware of the problem is the first step to learning to create without crunch.

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