The Callisto Protocol director promotes crunch, swiftly backtracks



Striking Distance Studios founder and CEO Glen Schofield has backtracked on comments he made over the weekend that indicated the studio is crunching hard to get The Callisto Protocol out of the door.

Schofield, who co-created the Dead Space franchise and prevously co-founded Slegdehammer Games, sought to clarify why he hadn’t been out promoting the title by explaining the dev team is working “six to seven days a week.”

In a now-deleted tweet (screenshots of which can still be found online), Schofield said “I only talk about the game during an event. We are working six to seven days a week. Nobody’s forcing us. Exhaustion, tired, COVID, but we’re working. Bugs, glitches, perf fixes. One last pass through audio. 12 to 15 hour days. This is gaming. Hard work. Lunch, dinner working. You do it because you love it.”

After numerous developers and industry figures began calling out the tweet, explaining crunch is a symptom of bad management, poor scoping, and generally speaking a huge red flag, Schofield deleted it and posted an apology.

“Anyone who knows me knows how passionate I am about the people I work with. Earlier I tweeted how proud I was of the effort and hours the team was putting in,” he said. “That was wrong. We value passion and creativity, not long hours. I’m sorry to the team for coming across like this.”

We’ve been here before

The games industry has a well-documented history with crunch culture, which can see development teams being forced to work long hours in a last ditch bid to polish a title to hit an impending launch date. Some studios have attempted to implement “zero-crunch” policies to help workers strike a better work-life balance, but in recent years there have still been reports of crunch at major studios like Rockstar, CD Projekt Red, and Bethesda, indicating more needs to be done to address what one studio founder recently described as a “plague.”

At GDC 2022, Ian Schreiber, assistant professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology and game designer, sought to break down the physiological effects of non-mandatory crunch for attendees. Quite simply, Schreiber found that crunch — even when undertaken for seemingly positive reasons — leaves employees more fatigued and can even result in what he described as “negative productivity.”

“Negative productivity is you’re tired, you see a deprecated file in the git repository and you go to remove it to clean things up. And by accident, you actually delete the entire git repo and cost the entire company like a person month’s worth of work,” he said. “Long-term, there is really no science I could find showing any productivity benefits of doing extended crunches.”

To hear more from Schreiber, you can find our coverage of his GDC 2022 talk right here



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