I selected “Crunched: Has the Games Industry Really Stopped Exploiting its Workforce?” by Ian Williams as a reading. This article is relevant to course because it touches the important problem of media. The article is also relevant to me because it help me to learn more about workforce exploitation in media industry.
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In this article the author tells about the exploitation of IT workers who develop games and employers make them work additional time without payment (this is called “crunch”). Williams starts from describing how people learned about this problem. A wife of a game designer started an online journal “EA Spouse.” In this journal she wrote how “EA Games” forced her husband to work overtime without pay. Then Williams shows some numbers (how many designers work in crunch) to make people understand how big is this problem. After that the author tries to get what may be the causes of crunch. He searches the reasons for crunch in management and in the behavior of workers too. Williams quotes opinions of different people. Also the author says that labor organizations and trade organizations of game industry are silent about this problem. In the end the author tries to imagine what may be the future of crunch. He says there can be different variants of future.
In the article the author shows such main points. First, a lot of game designers work in crunch, and many managers and workers think it is something normal. Second, crunch is bad for workers because it ruing their families and gives no money but it is good for employers because they receive a lot of free work. Third, crunch become a part of the culture of game design. And fourth, crunch is not normal and it future it has to be stopped, and there are different ways to stop it.
Some important definitions used in employment are necessary to understand the article. Crunch is long period of mandatory overtime work with no extra pay which workers have to do before the release of a game. Layoff is when a worker stops working for time or forever because of employer. Burnout is a type of stress when worker has no motivation to work.
In this article I liked that the author did not just blames employees for everything. He shows different points of view and even demonstrates that the workers may want to work in crunch too. I also liked how the author showed different aspects of crunch: reaction of managers, reaction of workers, of labor organizations, of employers, and even of the families of workers.
In this article Williams tells about different causes of crunch:
- Industry is too young and the management is not developed. But then big companies should have resources for good management (Williams par. 15-17).
- It is a cheap way to meet deadline for companies (Williams par. 19-20).
- Managers are addicted to crunch (Williams par. 11-12).
- Workers think it is normal (Williams par. 21-22).
Williams explains that crunch is not an error in system but is its part. It is a cheap way to meet the deadline, and laws do not forbid it. He quotes a researcher who says that the industry hires new people who think crunch is normal, and fire those who are tired (Williams par. 19-22).
Williams mentions possible futures of crunch. It may end with the maturation of industry, or the veterans of design will fight it, or the new technologies will make it unnecessary (Williams par. 35-46).
Williams, Ian G. “Crunched: Has the Games Industry Really Stopped Exploiting its Workforce?” The Guardian, 2015. The Guardian. Web.