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IGDA will take aim at 'crunch' and unpaid overtime in 2016

Nearly half of developers work 60-hour weeks or more, 17 percent get no overtime

Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

The International Game Developers Association is taking on the issues of unpaid overtime and "crunch" in game development over the coming year with a carrot-and-stick approach, the organization announced this morning.

Companies with the best practices will be highlighted and lauded by the IGDA later this year, while a survey of members will call out the overall prevalence of abusive development demands. IGDA board members will press these concerns privately with leaders of video game publishers and studios.

"Crunch" is a broad term that generally means workweeks of longer than 60 hours, particularly as a game's development approaches its final deadline. Surveys taken by the IGDA in 2014 and 2015 show that uncompensated overtime during "crunch" remains a significant concern.

The two surveys showed that nearly half of the respondents work more than 60 hours per week, and 17 percent work more than 70 hours. Of these, in 2014 38 percent said their employer did not offer additional compensation for overtime. The same figure held at 37 percent in 2015.

"Poor working conditions are the second-leading factor contributing toward society's negative perception of the game industry," the IGDA said in a news release. "It also remains a major factor why game developers would choose to leave the industry in favor of non-game related technology jobs."

This year's survey will be used to inform a list of companies with best practices that the IGDA will announce at the end of the year. The IGDA said it will also set up a system through which developers can safely report workplace concerns, helping give more insight into the spread and persistence of these issues at specific companies.

Members of the IGDA's board of directors will use that information to lobby industry leaders to change their policies or adopt new ones. They will support that initiative with messaging about the negative effects of uncompensated overtime.

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