Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Crunch Time

K's crunching this week, which means more blog writing time for me. For those of you who don't know what "crunching" is, it's when everyone on the team has to buckle down and work really late hours/weekends, usually because the game has a huge deadline to meet. Right after I wrote that entry on "life at work," I found the Wikipedia entry on crunch time and realized I had completely left off the infamously unpleasant parts of being in the industry.

If you ever hear horror stories of video game companies using up employees like disposable Kleenex, you can thank EA for building the reputation. I guess I was wrong about famous blogs by gamers' wives; a single post by EA Spouse in 2004 became the driving force behind a successful $14.9 million class actions suit for software engineers at EA. It's no wonder that 12-year veterans like my husband are quite the rarity.
So how did K make it this long without burning out? Oh, he did his time alright. At the first large company he worked for, K was young, eager to please, and single. That dangerous combination culminated into 90- to 100-hour weeks that consisted of sleeping under his desk and occasionally taking breaks to go home and shower. When he threatened to leave mid-project (a big no-no in the industry), they threw more money at him and he fell for the golden handcuffs. After 7 months of selling his soul, K finally realized the futility of his situation and walked out at the brink of the company's inevitable implosion.

He almost walked out on the video game industry altogether, but God provided him just enough contract work to stay afloat until the right opportunity came. When he did eventually regain his professional passion, he made a vow to never again be trapped in the same situation. So actually, I'm one of the lucky gamer's wives because K has deliberately put his foot down when it comes to consistently working late hours. Sure, he'll pull the occasional short-term crunch when the troops are rallied, but not at the expense of his life and being able to come home to his lovely wife. #^_^#

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