Dr. Strangelove

Of course, I meant to use the full title of the 1964 Kubrick movie but I ran out of space. So here it is:

Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Crunch. Yes, crunch, that’s right.

So who is Dr. Strangelove in this case? According to some game blogs I read, it’s Michael Pachter. In his “consulting-only” capacity, he has stated that:

I just don’t have a whole lot of sympathy for people who say ‘I worked for such-and-such, and I didn’t get paid, and that’s not fair’. If you want to be an hourly employee, go build automobiles, and what will happen is they’ll close down your plant some day and you’ll be out of work.

To put this into perspective, he was discussing Team Bondi, their 7 years of working on a project, day and night, including weekends. Of course, no one was paid extra for the extra hours but management and shareholders got bonuses/dividends when the game turned a profit.

My position? Crunch is doomed and will eventually disappear (just like the Doomsday machine). It seems that crunch is part of the startup myth but there is no economic evidence to suggest it improves productivity. On the contrary, 60-hour weeks steadily decrease productivity. I would argue that if your job requires SOME creativity or analytical problem-solving, the impact of the 60 hours will be a lot more severe.

In a perfect world, the entrepreneur (or any employer for that matter) should only welcome contributions made without economic coercion. If this works for open-source projects, game mods, and custom maps (e.g. Linux, Counter Strike, DotA), it should work for an innovative company.

Crunch works temporarily for companies that aren’t innovative but copycat. The speed with which you copy an existing game is essential. When you have Zynga with it’s unlimited “copying” resources as your competitor, you better not sleep.

So if you work for a company like that, you should consider switching to a more innovative one. Even if your yearly salary is slightly lower, you will earn about 50% more per hour.

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