During The Game Awards, which aired a few days ago, the “Best Direction” award, the one that rewards for the best management and direction of the team, went to Neil Druckmann of Naughty Dog. But it is right to reward those who have forced their employees to crunch?
The first to raise this question was Ian Walker of Kotaku, who harshly criticized such a choice by such an important event within our industry. The Game Awards are, after all, one of the few events that this year have actually been celebrated within the world of video games, and beyond. Beyond all the discussions that have arisen over the choice of the various prizes, it is not normal for us to pretend that a problem like the crunch does not exist. For many developers, it is part of their life.
I wish shorter games with worse graphics created by people who are paid more to work less and I'm not kidding.Jordan Mallory, producer of the Fanbyte podcast, quoted by Kotaku
This is a sentiment shared by many players and by many members of the press. This is demonstrated by Jason Schreier's incredible investigations into this, for example, and usually by many others within the camp as well. Yet, it seems that during such big and important events for our industry it seems that this “little detail” slips away. Disappeared in the oblivion of our mind. As if that problem were just the result of an illusion. As if it were not part of our daily life, enough to lead to the increase in the price of our favorite games.
We have forgotten that our industry is dying.
The Last of Us Part II was born from a dying body
Incorrect video game:
And you still don't think crunch is killing video games?
Like so many other games of this period, The Last of Us Part II proves itself incredibly divisive. Both in its presentation and in its creation. Because he manages to change the medium by talking about themes that hardly any other triple A could carry on. But at the same time it pretends to ignore its own problems. So he lives in a limbo between innovation and backwardness. Even if he really deserves the other medals received during the award ceremony, being nominated "Best Direction"Throws a 'notable shadow on the consistency of the whole system.
Why let's be clear: it is not acceptable that our industry gives rewards to those who pushed developers paid to their limits to make precise hours. It's like we're thanking Neil Druckmann and Naughty Dog for reinforcing the sick standards of game development. It is not normal that you work so hard, nor is it normal that you work so badly. And in the first place, it is the fault of those who continue to accept this problem or downplay it. Because in the end it falls into making it worse than it already is.
And while The Last of Us II celebrates, on the podium is Hades crying, emblematic of developers who know what that means.
This award makes us understand that in truth we are not interested in rewarding those who really deserve it. Because we are giving a trophy to those with incompetent management, unable to give precise deadlines that force developers to lose part of their life behind a game. When on the other side is Hades, made by more honest people, who have managed to create a game that is loved and nominated for the same Game Awards for its quality. All this without ever giving his employees an extra hour, but instead forcing them to take holidays.
Hades' scream also terrifies Cyberpunk 2077
To learn more:
CD Projekt Red and the culture of crunch
As Hades screams and cries, shaken because he sees defeat as a defeat of a healthier model, I am sorry to see how this industry is doing. Because it's not just a matter of appointments during an event. It's a problem that affects almost every major game that comes out. We have seen this in recent days with the release of the latest CD Projekt Red game, cyberpunk 2077. A game created under crunch that is not only not what it was promised, but that does not even reach decent standards on the consoles it came out on.
All that extra work, which even went as far as 100 hours per week, it was perhaps simply useless. Because it shows again how this system makes no sense. It makes no sense that exaggerated schedules and deadlines are given out of this world if it is to create such a flawed game. In part, I believe it failed precisely because it was created under these conditions. Again, we fall back into the limbo I was talking about at the beginning.
A cyberpunk video game, which by its definition should make social criticism, was created with those working conditions that it should be the judge of.
It is at that point that the house of cards falls. The message is left to fend for itself, ignoring the problems behind it. Forgetting that what they did was only exaggerate a problem that they should be the first to not allow it to exist. And it shows in everything Cyberpunk 2077 shows. Personally I think that a game cannot be the fruit of passion if its development is hell. It is also why the game world seems almost dead, with NPCs not reacting to our existence. The real Night City is our society, which allowed all of this to happen.
All normal in a world marked by expectations
To learn more:
Dr. Crunch and Mr. Hype, the two gaming personalities
Just look more closely at The Game Awards to realize what the problem is. Because all this is the result of the award "Most anticipated game". In the end it always comes back there. I did not make the comparison with Night City for pure stylistic exercise, but because that is what we are experiencing. We are rewarding companies for those who can give us more useless details and lies. To fill us up like a turkey on Thanksgiving.
We wouldn't have been so disappointed with Cyberpunk 2077 if they hadn't showered us with asphyxiating marketing. Small unnecessary details scattered around. The customization of the genitals, the horse's balls in the cold. The Social Media Managers who exchange memes and jokes to make us believe that in the end are different from those companies that dominate Night City. We allowed this to happen. Because we now accept that major awards are so inconsistent in their composition. It is a mosaic of mistakes.
Companies fill us with promises, which they fulfill by exploiting employees. We accept silent and full of expectations. We buy the gadgets, the themed figurines. And the industry itself rewards both of these characteristics, kneeling to the players, who have become addicted to them. Even at the cost of seeming inconsistent. Even at the cost of giving a "Best Direction" award to those who have been unable to show respectful leadership towards your employees.
Such prizes are awarded because we are still in the midst of change.
Maybe we should stop passively accepting non-existent royalties.