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Former Dragon Age Writer David Gaider Spoke Against Crunch Culture

If working overtime on AAA games with massive budgets is the only way to make games, "maybe the industry deserves to die."

Image credit: Summerfall Studios

The constant race to release games and chase numbers doesn't make the game industry a healthy place. Layoffs have affected it drastically, and it seems there's little understanding between developers and publishers. 

David Gaider, a famous RPG writer who's worked on Dragon Age, Baldur's Gate 2, Neverwinter Nights, and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, doesn't support the crunch that plagues many big studios and thinks the industry has to change.

"The way the games industry and game devs are heading right now — the type of existence they have — it doesn't have to be that way," he told PC Gamer. "There is another way to be. I just want to see them all finally get unionized and get treated fairly.

The fatigue of working overtime on countless AAAA titles is not the only path companies can take, even though it might seem this way (understandably as there's always someone you need to report to, who cares for profits most of all.)

"There's this fear that exists — if we don't have everybody working overtime and we don't make AAA games that have $200 million budgets and the focus is on photorealistic graphics and 1,000-hour playtimes, we need to pack all that in and work everyone to death making it and that's the only way to make games.

"If that's true then maybe the industry deserves to die. If that's true. The thing is that I just don't think it's true."

Image credit: Summerfall Studios

After leaving BioWare, Gaider founded Summerfall and released Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical. The employees there have a four-day week, and it seems to be working fine for the studio.

"You just have to make a schedule that is realistic, that actually doesn't lie to the people that you're reporting to above or to your own team. You work with the time you have; you make a game that makes the most out of the time you have and then the result is that you have employees who love what they do and don't feel like they're just a resource to be tapped."

Gaider is not the only one to criticize the current industry. Baldur's Gate 3 director Swen Vincke stood against publishers enforcing layoffs, saying that "greed has been f*cking this whole thing up for so long." One of the Dwarf Fortress creators, Tarn Adams, also called the people responsible for job cuts greedy: "They can all eat s***, I think they're horrible, and I think they're bad people."

The problem with profit chase is that you can't stop once you start: the risks are too great when there are investors watching your every move and asking for more. However, this doesn't excuse horrible work conditions and endless sequels of the same old games. Crunch is bad, there is no doubt here; hopefully, more developers and publishers will hear the frustration.

Read the interview with Gaider here and join our 80 Level Talent platform and our Telegram channel, follow us on InstagramTwitter, and LinkedIn, where we share breakdowns, the latest news, awesome artworks, and more.

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