From today’s LA Times:
For months, Andrés Vásquez’s days working on the first-person shooter game “Doom” blended into one another.
A quality assurance tester for id Software in Texas, he spent 10 hours a day sitting at a desk and “crunching” on the game with his colleagues, repeatedly playing through its map creation mode and running through multiplayer matches in search of glitches ahead of its 2016 release. He’d often work weekends, logging nearly 60-hour weeks.
“It almost starts to feel like ‘Groundhog Day,’” the 33-year-old says. “It’s just so mentally challenging. You’re so tired that you just sleep and wake up to do it again the next day. It becomes a blur. … You peek your head out from being in a tunnel and you’d come back to reality once the crunch was over.”
Video game workers have long decried so-called crunch periods, many of them dreading the months-long gantlet that leads up to a game’s release. Some workers describe sleeping at their desks or missing out on time with family and friends during this period; others struggle with anxiety and burnout.
Those and other grievances — including claims of discrimination and calls for fair and transparent pay — have led a growing segment of the industry’s workforce to unionize — a tactic many might associate more with old-school factory lines than 21st century software gigs. The organizing effort marks a budding shift in power in an industry that has long relied on contract labor and the romantic ideal that working on games is a dream worth sacrificing for.
Read the complete story here.