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Games so good it costs human misery to make them.

cd projekt red video game industry working conditions discussion crunch

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#1
EbonyBetty

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Hey, fellow Osidianites! All this CD Projekt Red Controversy has really got me thinking and I really want to have a discussion about it.  Yes, I know everyone with a Youtube channel is talking about it at the moment but I'm curious about what y'all think here. If y'all don't know about the CD Projekt Red hurrah, apparently working at current Video Gaming's Sweetheart company is the 7th circle of Hell. Due to the spotlight of negative  Glassdoor reviews , the game company put out a PR clean-up statement. Here are some really good videos to get you up to speed: 1, 2

 

Now I wont lie, I'm also starting this discussion out of self-preservation. If you don't already know, I'm a black woman that wants to get into the video gaming industry. In an industry that is 78% white males and with African American MALES only making up 9% of the industry, I know my journey is gonna be an upstream battle with a spoon for a paddle. But I love this industry so much and see so much potential in it that I think it's worth it. However as a black person, the true canary in the coal mine for black suffering in a workplace is: if even the WHITE people there ain't happy, then your black ass is gonna roast. 

 

Don't get me wrong, I don't think the workplace should be adult daycare with everything being fun and stress-free, but as an educated psychology student, I know morale in the workplace is crucial. There can be stress, pain, overtime, and frustration of the highest order but if there isn't any emotional payoff or self-actualization to justify it you end up with what's to be expected: people quitting, depression, hatred for upper management, health problems, rebellion/sabatage among workers, even suicide. Studies have shown a thousand times over, happy employees = less financial and social scandals for the company. 

 

I think the reason why CD RED is getting a lot of the spotlight is that most of their consumers aka people who don't work at CD RED but know their product are really conflicted about what to do with this information. The Witcher series has changed the game, not just for video games, but how to treat your consumer base. In one of the videos I've linked, a supposed ex-CD RED employee joked that since CD RED treats their fans like gold but their employees like ****, they can essentially get away with HR and PR murder. 

 

So I have to ask, are great games worth it even at the expense to the emotional and eventually physical immolation of its employees? Most of us are aware of the infamous "crunch" sessions in the video gaming industry. Those last 3 weeks before a game is launched and in the game developers offices where employees are spending 15-18 hour days at their desks. They're away from their loved ones, bad posture, eating breakfast, lunch, dinner takeout in the break room (if they even have one) on a product that might not even sell and/or review well. Here are some articles (for and against) crunch in the video game industry, 1, 2, 3, 4. Game developing is definitely a high risk-high reward industry and we, the consumers often see the high reward part. But what about the high risk and possibly little to no reward part? Do we as consumers have an obligation to demand better treatment of the employees to an entertainment that we cherish so much. There's the Actor's Guild for the movie and TV industry. We've seen that video game Voice Actors are demanding better treatment and trying to unionize, and some of you guys might remember the 2007-2008 Writer's Guild Strike . Is this par for the course for Game developers? Also this might pertain to us, Obsidianites more because most of us are backers for PoE and PoE II. What if we were to find out the game we kickstrted were forcing employees on year-long crunches and firing anyone who objected, such as the Glassdoor reviews for CD RED? (I don't think Obsidian is like this, but just to serve as an example). What kind of reaction would we give? 

 

TL;DR: Sorry for all the questions asked here. We as consumers often praise the "Blood, sweat, and tears" mentality in the video game industry, but what is too far? Video game fan and consumers have a lot more power in the entertainment consumption as to compared to the movie, book, or tv industry; sometimes swaying how developers work on their games. Is CD RED in the wrong if their products come out so right?


Edited by EbonyBetty, 19 October 2017 - 02:47 AM.

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#2
Mamoulian War

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Well, maybe it will be a surprise for you, the situation as described in CD-Project Red, is no different in most of the different companies in Central and Eastern Europe. Lot of people here are still exploited as a cheap labour, even if their job has extremely high added value for employer.

It get's slowly better, but lot of people here are still used to shut up and work, from our not so nice past... Some unions are still affraid to do a proper strike, like we can see in Western Europe. Even if Union declares proper strike, lot of people are more worried about losing their jobs, than their ****ty work conditions...
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#3
213374U

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This just in: work sucks (and then you get fired).

 

Sorry, I just find it hard to sympathize with the plight of game devs above and beyond my feelings regarding what is a thoroughly exploitative system of commodification of human labor.


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#4
Sharp_one

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So I have to ask, are great games worth it even at the expense to the emotional and eventually physical immolation of its employees? 

 

In short. Yes.

 

We are living in interesting times where people demand no hard work, multitude of benefits and bazilions of cash for their work. At the same time the same people demand top notch products, royalty quality of services and 24/7 help for a nickle of payment or even better for free. 

 

Cannot have everything.

 

If game industry is to hard then they can go and try underwater welding or coal mining.
 



#5
Fenixp

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Ah, so you're excited to work in gaming development! Prepare to be chewed by the system until you burn out and then spat out, hoping you can still muster motivation to do what you want to do.

Edit: Let's say that there's a good reason why most of my friends who worked in game dev are only getting serious relationships now, in their mid 30s, after they switched job.

We are living in interesting times where people demand no hard work, multitude of benefits and bazilions of cash for their work. At the same time the same people demand top notch products, royalty quality of services and 24/7 help for a nickle of payment or even better for free.

Demanding no hard work is one thing, complete disrespect for labor protection laws that many gaming companies show is on wholly different end of the spectrum.

Edited by Fenixp, 19 October 2017 - 03:31 AM.

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#6
Katphood

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Well, maybe it will be a surprise for you, the situation as described in CD-Project Red, is no different in most of the different companies in Central and Eastern Europe. Lot of people here are still exploited as a cheap labour, even if their job has extremely high added value for employer.


Couldn't have said it better. My brother works as an architect in Vienna and the time he spent at Moser Architects during 2009-2011 was terrifying!  At one point they told them that either they will finish the hotel at schönborn by the end of September or they'll pay a fine of 300.000 Euros and you know something is not right when some of the employees have to take cocaine and speed at the same time just to get the job done and then spend a week at a sanitarium...can't imagine the gaming industry being any better. 

 

A new gaming industry crash?! It could happen.


Edited by Katphood, 19 October 2017 - 05:04 AM.


#7
Humanoid

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I'm a software developer who likes video games, and I would not even slightly consider working in the games industry. It's the wild west out there. Cushy government job where I can count the number of times I've ever done overtime on my fingers - now that's my speed.

 

It's hardly a localised problem either, I remember reading about the development hell that was LA Noire, and that was made in Australia, where we have much stronger labour laws than the US or Eastern Europe. It's safe to assume it happens everywhere.

 

I'm not sure there's a palatable solution to all this. In real terms, games have never been cheaper to buy, and they've never been more expensive to make.The sticker price on games are still the same as they were near the dawn of the industry, absorbing decades worth of inflation. Meanwhile team sizes would be the biggest they've ever been, and that's before taking into account the auxiliary stuff like licencing, voice recording and marketing - the cost of which would also be at record highs. Sure, the greater volume of sales these days (compared to when gaming was a comparatively niche hobby) compensates to an extent, but in an increasingly saturated market, something's got to give.


Edited by Humanoid, 19 October 2017 - 05:18 AM.

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#8
Malcador

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Well, maybe it will be a surprise for you, the situation as described in CD-Project Red, is no different in most of the different companies in Central and Eastern Europe. Lot of people here are still exploited as a cheap labour, even if their job has extremely high added value for employer.

It get's slowly better, but lot of people here are still used to shut up and work, from our not so nice past... Some unions are still affraid to do a proper strike, like we can see in Western Europe. Even if Union declares proper strike, lot of people are more worried about losing their jobs, than their ****ty work conditions...


It's like that here, and we don't have any interesting past, heh. Unions are a dirty word for developers I have noticed over the years, heh. Not really worth it, but you get people that think crunch is normal or are blinded by enthusiasm so there's always meat for the grinder

#9
Sharp_one

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We are living in interesting times where people demand no hard work, multitude of benefits and bazilions of cash for their work. At the same time the same people demand top notch products, royalty quality of services and 24/7 help for a nickle of payment or even better for free.

Demanding no hard work is one thing, complete disrespect for labor protection laws that many gaming companies show is on wholly different end of the spectrum.

 

 

Do you even know what you talk about? CDP is placed in Poland and is subject to Polish labor laws. All the devs are doing is overtime, which they get paid for. Boo Hoo  :shrugz:



#10
213374U

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Do you even know what you talk about? CDP is placed in Poland and is subject to Polish labor laws. All the devs are doing is overtime, which they get paid for. Boo Hoo  :shrugz:


You know this for a fact? Because in this case, it's alleged that they don't.

 

Of course the answer is "if so then they should refuse and go to the labor inspection bluh bluh bluh". But if they step out of line they can easily be fired because there's always another chump ready to jump in and bend over because it's their "dream job".


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#11
Fenixp

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Do you even know what you talk about?

Yes. Do you?
 

All the devs are doing is overtime, which they get paid for.

Judging by large Czech gaming development houses and reports leaking from CDP, they kinda don't. I mean, one of my friends working for an unnamed dev house was getting free breakfasts, lunches and sometimes dinners so that he wouldn't have to leave the workplace, so that's something! Crazy unpaid overtimes are among the standards of gaming development, incidentally, along with a whole bunch of other issues.

Of course the answer is "if so then they should refuse and go to the labor inspection bluh bluh bluh". But if they step out of line they can easily be fired because there's always another chump ready to jump in and bend over because it's their "dream job".

Precisely - the industry is preying on enthusiasm, often times offering even unpaid jobs to "start off". It's kind of disgusting.

Edited by Fenixp, 19 October 2017 - 07:16 AM.

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#12
Sharp_one

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Do you even know what you talk about? CDP is placed in Poland and is subject to Polish labor laws. All the devs are doing is overtime, which they get paid for. Boo Hoo  :shrugz:


You know this for a fact? Because in this case, it's alleged that they don't.


Yes I do. Because in Poland if the story is reported by the media it's treated as if it was reported to the authorities (police/inspections/financial supervisory etc.) and CDP was checked. The employees do overtime as everyone in any industry and they are payed. In fact it's +50% overtime and +100% in the weekends, so not a bad deal since they are not making minimum wage in there also.

#13
Fenixp

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Yes I do. Because in Poland if the story is reported by the media it's treated as if it was reported to the authorities (police/inspections/financial supervisory etc.) and CDP was checked. The employees do overtime as everyone in any industry and they are payed. In fact it's +50% overtime and +100% in the weekends, so not a bad deal since they are not making minimum wage in there also.

Oh yes, we have those laws in Czech Republic too. In my career I've already encountered at the very least three employers who either found loopholes to circumvent them and make unpaid perfectly legal or quite simply don't lead proper records of the overtimes. "So, your working agreement says right here you're working daily from 8 to 17 with an hour for a break so that's precisely the time you're spending at work, right?" When you say "WRONG!", you may win a lawsuit - good luck finding even loosely related job in the country again.

Edited by Fenixp, 19 October 2017 - 07:37 AM.


#14
HooAmEye

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CDPR isn't even among the worst. Check out the stories from Rockstar and Japanese development. The book "Blood, Sweat, and Pixels" has some fascinating accounts on the issue. The industry has a massive problem with handling this, expecting so many many to place their entire lives into the job. And even this ****show is not as bad as the situation in silicon valley.


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#15
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Karoshi is the ideal
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#16
Sharp_one

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Yes I do. Because in Poland if the story is reported by the media it's treated as if it was reported to the authorities (police/inspections/financial supervisory etc.) and CDP was checked. The employees do overtime as everyone in any industry and they are payed. In fact it's +50% overtime and +100% in the weekends, so not a bad deal since they are not making minimum wage in there also.

Oh yes, we have those laws in Czech Republic too. In my career I've already encountered at the very least three employers who either found loopholes to circumvent them and make unpaid perfectly legal or quite simply don't lead proper records of the overtimes. "So, your working agreement says right here you're working daily from 8 to 17 with an hour for a break so that's precisely the time you're spending at work, right?" When you say "WRONG!", you may win a lawsuit - good luck finding even loosely related job in the country again.


And? It's irrelevant to this story what happens in Czech Republic.

#17
redneckdevil

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I feel no sympathy from it, simply because it's everywhere that pays in salary. Hell just ask an asst manager at Walmart for instance, their salary pays them enough for 48 hours but many are working 50+ hours, alot of times working 6-7 days week without a day off in a couple weeks, especially around Christmas time.
It's more of a problem with salary, because pay per hour grants OT and enforces certain rules while u give up protections and OT for salary because of the slim chance of working less hours but still being paid for more hours.
It's more along the lines of problem with salary.
It's also where there's a product and a time table due to the market and bad decisions from stock holders that if not done within a certain time limit, the product is less worth while and can be worthless.
Example when I worked as a wood crafter, I got paid only what I made and sold. Some jobs I had to work double and even worked 36 hours in a row because the product had to be made within a certain time or they did not wanna buy. Now I could have afterwards, took days off to where my hours would go back down below 40, BUT because I was being paid per product and not per hour, if I didn't take on more jobs, I did not get paid and since work is not guaranteed, it was a gamble that could backfire because when I was rdy, there could be no customers for weeks bc they went somewhere else.
So blame the practice of salaries and also equally, the customers for their impatient and unrealistic expectations of when a product should be rdy.
So yes, working in that area, ur gonna be wrong out and chewed up. Everyone, no matter what race though if ur in America would have more protections due to ur skin color, will be chewed up and spat out because that's the work flow of making a video game. The 40 hour work week is designed around established factory line work, not making video games so different work flow.

#18
omphaloskepsis

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TL;DR: Sorry for all the questions asked here. We as consumers often praise the "Blood, sweat, and tears" mentality in the video game industry, but what is too far? Video game fan and consumers have a lot more power in the entertainment consumption as to compared to the movie, book, or tv industry; sometimes swaying how developers work on their games. Is CD RED in the wrong if their products come out so right?

IMO, this is a wildly varying situation of context and your personal values.  If you're young and don't mind sacrificing your life for your work, it can be worth it for a while.  You might learn skills or gain contacts that help you in the future.  It seems like a fair percent of the more successful indie devs started out in those environments.

 

A few things to consider:

You'll get paid significantly more working for tech companies than for game companies.  The few times I've looked at game dev salaries I thought they were extremely low.  OTOH, you could still end up in the grinder, and the bigger salaries aren't necessarily enough to make up for that.  In my 20s I went to work for a namebrand tech company.  The two guys I lived with at the time couldn't believe how much I was making, and kept repeating things like "No one should get paid that much.  That's ridiculous."  A year or so later, after seeing my non-stop 80 - 100 hour work weeks, they reversed, and kept pushing me to quit the job.  "Nobody should work that much.  That's ridiculous.  No money is worth that."

 

Long-term I think work environment is more important than salary, as is a feeling of satisfaction with what you're doing.  But short-term there are legit reasons to choose otherwise.

 

The question of artistic merit is likewise a difficult one.  Before Gaudi died he was going door to door begging for charity to finish his cathedral.  You could argue that one is fine art and the other is just producing mass market junk, but the central issue is the same.  Is it worth it?  There's no answer for that.  It's personal.

 

In terms of ethics, yeah, it's disappointing, and not all companies are like that, but it does seem widespread in the game industry.  I think that, like Hollywood, it's a perpetual buyer's market (for the companies), because they have an endless supply of young people with big dreams.

 

 


Yes I do. Because in Poland if the story is reported by the media it's treated as if it was reported to the authorities (police/inspections/financial supervisory etc.) and CDP was checked. The employees do overtime as everyone in any industry and they are payed. In fact it's +50% overtime and +100% in the weekends, so not a bad deal since they are not making minimum wage in there also.

In the US there are labor laws and a variety of employee protections, and yet, in the real world, companies disregard them and sometimes employees are too scared to speak up.   The last place I worked had a recently promoted manager that generated 11 HR complaints within 2 months of starting his new position.  Completely ignored.  The whole company is a walking collection of lawsuits waiting to happen, but until it starts rolling, all protections are theoretical.

 

Other companies I've worked for do take those types of issues seriously, but the real world is a case-by-case basis.  I don't know much about Poland, but I suspect the differences between "on paper" and the real world exist there just like everywhere else.


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#19
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We are living in interesting times where people demand no hard work, multitude of benefits and bazilions of cash for their work. At the same time the same people demand top notch products, royalty quality of services and 24/7 help for a nickle of payment or even better for free. 

 

Cannot have everything.

 

If game industry is to hard then they can go and try underwater welding or coal mining.
 

 

You can always count on Sharpie to throw in the "kids these days!" argument.  :biggrin:

 

http://ambitious.com...-since-forever/



#20
HoonDing

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CD Projekt are crooks.







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