Dambuster Studios, one of Embracer Group’s studios and the developer of Dead Island 2, has taken a public stand against crunch. The company’s HR has explained why this culture should disappear from the games industry forever.

Dambuster Studios HR head Helen Haynes shared her thoughts in a video on Embracer’s YouTube channel. Here are the key takeaways from her speech.

  • Crunch is an excuse for bad management. Haynes noted that other industries also have to work on strict deadlines, but crunch should never be an option.

“[Crunch] is right-of-passage ego, machoismic rubbish,” she said. “This doesn’t have to happen and it shouldn’t be happening now. In a world where we are looking to improve work-life balance and well-being and health of our employees, how does crunch survive in that?”

  • The games industry is not that special. Haynes said that some game companies like to think that they are “special”, refusing to implement new practices to help their employees and improve the overall workflow.

“It is just a smokescreen for people who are perhaps a little bit afraid of the challenge of the future or feel a little threatened by it,” she noted, adding that the industry should adopt tools from other areas that have already resolved the crunch problem.

  • People are what makes this industry special. Haynes thinks that companies should cherish creative minds working for them and create environments that would benefit and support them.
  • Developers need counseling. Haynes noted that game companies should get rid of all this automatic scoring software to evaluate staff performance. Instead, they should invest more in mental health training and counseling.

“If [developers] need two days to recover, we don’t want to call them to a disciplinary meeting because they scored 32 points on some software scoring system,” she said. “That doesn’t work for us.”

  • The games industry needs better leaders. Developers moving to supervising positions should not only rely on their experience but learn new management skills and techniques. Haynes said that team leaders must be judged on how they achieve through others rather than on how creative they are.

“Then we create synergy and get more than the sum of the component parts. That’s when we really start to move forward and see the difference that true leadership can make,” she concluded.

Who are Dambuster Studios?

It was founded in 2014 after Crytek decided to close its British subsidiary, also known as Free Radical Design. The company sold its staff and the Homefront franchise to Deep Silver, which eventually established Dambuster Studios.

Right now, the studio is working on Dead Island 2. Although the first game was developed by Techland, the sequel’s production has faced some troubles, moving from Yager to Sumo Digital, before finally getting in the hands of Dambuster Studios.

Dead Island is now in the final stages of development and is expected to come out on February 3, 2023.

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