Many members of the IGDA -- the International Game Developers Association, a leading game industry professional society -- have been upset with their organization's arguably soft stance on working long hours in the game industry.
The issue was re-ignited recently, when Mike Capps, head of Epic and former board of directors member for the IDGA controversially stated that working 60 or more hours a week was standard practice at Epic, and that he would not hire staff not willing to commit this much of their lives to working on the game at hand. The comments were made at a IGDA Leadership Forum at end of 2008, in a panel called "Studio Heads on the Hot Seat."
While being the head of Epic, Mike Capps is certainly justified in running his own company as he sees fit, but the comment irked many members of the IDGA who argue that his position does not jive well with the organization's mission statement, which is to "advance the careers and enhance the lives of game developers."
Many members of the IGDA have consequently called for a clarification of the organization's position on the topic of the long, industry-common work weeks. IDGA Chair Emeritus Jen MacLean responded in press release today on the matter. She said the IGDA "believes unequivocally that enabling your employees to create for themselves a high quality of life is a good business practice, and there are direct, negative consequences to ignoring your employees' quality of life. But work/life balance also goes far beyond the number of hours worked. Quality of life also varies significantly according to the individual."
Judging from comments read in the IGDA's forum, it seems that many members feel that while the IGDA has made progress on the amount of transparency game employers use to describe their studio's work expectations, many members think that the group should take a stronger stance against excessive, and unhealthy, work schedules.
The extensive hours often worked in the game industry has been a contentious issue -- perhaps most notably so when the "EA_Spouse" letters were released, which caused EA some measure of embarrassment and litigious trouble. Programmers working 20hr shifts are not unheard of, and can lead many to question the efficacy of planning 'crunch' times, as if they are a requirement of development.
One particular example that stood out in the forum linked above was from David Weinstein, who worked on Ubisoft's Rainbow Six. He said the final stretch ("crunch" time) working on that game was "extreme" -- so much so that he was twice pulled over when driving home from work, on suspicion of drunk driving, when in fact, he was just extraordinarily -- and unsafely -- exhausted.
Update: IGDA board member Tom Buscaglia says that Jen MacLean "mishandled the issue", and that the IGDA will work on clarifying their position on the matter, but right now, it is not a priotory on a massive to-do list that they have. He further went on to say, perhaps whimisically, that the situation would not benefit from IGDA members "bitch slapping Mike Capps for being a **cktard" (source.)