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Crunch Time: The Reasons and Effects of Unpaid Overtime in the Games Industry

Conference paper
Authors Henrik Edholm
Mikaela Lidström
Jan-Philipp Steghöfer
Håkan Burden
Published in Proceedings of the 39th International Conference on Software Engineering, ICSE 2017. Software Engineering in Practice Track. Buenos Aires, Argentina — May 20 - 28, 2017
ISBN 978-1-5386-2717-4
Publisher IEEE
Publication year 2017
Published at Department of Computer Science and Engineering (GU)
Language en
Links https://doi.org/10.1109/ICSE-SEIP.2...
https://gup.ub.gu.se/file/206740
Subject categories Software Engineering

Abstract

The games industry is notorious for its intense work ethics with uncompensated overtime and weekends at the office, also known as crunch or crunch time. Since crunch time is so common within the industry, is it possible that the benefits of crunch time outweigh the disadvantages? By studying postmortems and conducting interviews with employees in the industry, we aim to characterise crunch time and discover its effects on the industry. We provide a classification of crunch, i.e., four types of crunch which all have distinct characteristics and affect the product, employees and schedule in various ways. One of the crunch types stands out from the others by only having positive effects on product and schedule. A characteristic that all of the types have in common is an increase in stress levels amongst the employees. We identify a set of reasons for crunch and show that crunch is less pronounced in game studios where prioritisation of features is a regular practice.

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