In many companies, working extra hours means receiving extra compensation. But in one industry, 98% of employees report that they do not receive paid overtime, not even during “crunch” periods.
Any guesses about the industry? Is it financial services around tax season or retailers preparing for Christmas? Nope. As reported in Develop magazine, these are figures derived from a study of the multi-billion dollar video game industry:
Ninety-eight per cent of game developers across the world do not receive paid overtime, despite being frequently asked to work an extra ten to fifteen hours per week.
The survey was launched in part as a result of the controversy surrounding the International Game Developers Association and, in particular, Epic CEO Dr. Michael Capps, who suggested that Epic’s staff would be expected to work 60 hour weeks as part of the corporate culture.
The resulting argument split the IGDA membership between those that felt the organisation should be making a stand against such practices, and those who thought otherwise.
The video game business is unique among all organizations and even within the software development community for many reasons. Since every release must be cutting edge and meet precise timing requirements, teams tend to work more and more hours as they approach the launch date. Since every product is effectively a brand new invention, it’s hard to develop consistent process and workflow because so much will be used just once. This makes tasks such as planning, budgeting and work expectations nearly insurmountable.
Legendary game designer Peter Molyneux has worked to address this problem in his own studio, Lionhead, through massive changes in its corporate culture. In his own words, the gaming industry must “stop ruining people’s lives.” This follows the ea_spouse incident in which the wife of an Electronic Arts developer helped usher in a class action lawsuit relating to unpaid overtime. Such issues are a troubling reality for any business. Employees and employers must work together to set reasonable expectations that promote both productivity and satisfaction.
At AccelaWork, we try to help organizations address the challenges of workflow long before they are elevated to such levels. We do this by helping stakeholders understand what makes them most effective at work. When individuals have passion for their field and productive systems which they own and maintain, everyone benefits. Unfair overtime policies arise when we don’t communicate about productivity and satisfaction. For more information, contact our business consultants today!