Gaming Industry and Its Dark-side: The Crunch!

Gaming | Industry | 16th July 2021 | Virtual Wire

The gaming industry has a special place among us all, as the time when we used to visit the arcade or nearby computer café to play the top choice of video games and enjoy it with our friends With applaudable advancements and modernization.

The polygonal blob which used to be restricted to the TV screen or arcade machines came to our PCs and then on to our mobile phones and recently, smartphone screens as well.

The time that was used to be spent with friends got diverted to just sitting at home and playing games by spending hours of working or resourceful time into leisure period. Even though no matter how much we complain about the drawbacks of gaming in the present world, it became an inevitable part of the masses when the pandemic struck the globe and

everyone was incarcerated in their houses for the time being to avoid the virus’ spread among the population.

Online gaming became an organ of sorts, where people can speak and communicate with their friends and family members with the advent of “online chat.” Streaming channels, where people can stream their favourite games online platforms are blooming into a million-dollar industry (which is expected to cross the billion mark by 2024), whose race is being led by various streaming platforms like Twitch, Discord, YouTube Live, Facebook Live, et cetera.

A $200 billion industry, the gaming world has always been saturated with opportunities to excel among the younger generations who are more technologically sophisticated and filled with enthusiasm for gaming.

Our childhood memories are filled with reminiscence of games like Mario, Counter-Strike, Contra, Max Payne, Call of Duty, and others that are still played and new versions are been released every year. But, regardless of our sentimental connections with the industry, there is always a ‘certain bad’ that follows that particular good, and this bad is the Crunch.

The Crunch culture is the most erroneous phenomenon for which the gaming industry has always been criticized and scrutinized. Crunch is a simple activity that is followed upon by a gaming company that forces its employees to work late-night shifts and do overtime to reach the product development and release goals, without any bonus or extra pay.

This practice of exploiting the employee resource for desirable gains of marginalizing profits is so deep-rooted in the gaming industry that a fresh graduate in game development and programming has to predetermine himself/herself to get used to being treated as an enslaved thrall anytime when they are working.

The cherry on top is that after the employees have gone through the “crunch” period, the majority of the staff is immediately laid off for increasing profits and recruit fresh and willing candidates so that the cycle can be performed again. Gaming companies like EA, Rockstar Games, 2K, Bethesda, Epic Games, and others are always accused of practising crunch and laying off employees when the deadlines have been met, with no prior notice and extra or bonus pay.

The situation is so dire and pathetic that a person who has been employed for more than 5 years in a single gaming company, is considered a ‘veteran’ in the industry. Some other problems like prejudice against female co-workers and improper management are just the tip of the iceberg, as the problems deep bedded in the gaming industry are neverending.

It is essential to know the origin and how a product or service that we are about to use was made or developed. The gaming industry’s executing crunch relentlessly is the result of consumer ignorance with no proper regulations from the government being laid down. Unionization among the employees is already a ‘hard nut to crack’ as it can lead to immediate termination with no severance pay.

Several NGOs and other public organizations have stepped up to fight against this disease like Take This, which are constantly trying to reach out to the consumers and proliferate the awareness spread to curb and stop the exercise of excessive lay-offs (even if the company has recorded massive profits), sexism, racism, poisoned workplace environment, and other ill-practices.

We need to get out of the virtual character world and seek the truth as if it is happening to someone right now, it can also happen to us who are dreaming to step into the world of game development.

The gaming industry developed based on the idea of having fun with friends and enjoy our free time, but now it has transformed into a monstrosity, where the employees and workers are perceived as mere tools of product development and generating profits has become the only meaning behind the human life.

The end consumers have to look out for the people who make their favourite products, especially the employees, as an industry is nothing without a precepting consumer mass.

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