IGDA looking to investigate Team Bondi for brutal crunch, wants ex-developers to contact

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The International Game Developers Association (IGDA) is looking to thoroughly investigate Sydney based games developers, Team Bondi, due to the accusations of an intense crunch work policy and aggressive management raised by the eleven anonymous ex-Team Bondi developers who contributed to the investigative IGN article on the seven year long development of L.A Noire.

The reports of the overly excessive crunch time, which included more than 100 hour work weeks, has caused industry outrage. The IGDA has described the gruelling work conditions as 'absolutely unacceptable'.

Complaints of crunch-time related issues, compiled by Develop from the IGN article, include:

  • "The crunch was ongoing. It just kept on shifting; an ominous crunch that just keeps moving, and moving. Management would say, 'Oh, it'll finish once we meet this deadline,' but the deadline kept moving. That went on for a good year."
  • Workloads were, on average, about 60 hours per week, the person said.
  • That would jump as high as 110 hours per week when milestones had to be met, alleges one developer.
  • "If you left at 7.30pm, you'd get evil eyes"
  • “There was simply an expectation that you'd work overtime and weekends. I was told that I was taking the piss by saying that I couldn't give every single one of my weekends away. We were looked at as a disposable resource, basically. Their attitude is: 'it's a privilege to work for us, and if you can't hack it, you should leave'. I heard one of the upper echelons say pretty much that. I thought it was disgusting. I don't understand how they can't see that maintaining talent would actually be good for them."
  • Three 100-hour weeks for a demo that wasn’t released

Management abuse included:

  • "It's one thing for him (McNamara) to be angry behind closed doors, but it was incredibly common for him to scream at whoever was pissing him off in the middle of the office."
  • Reprimanded for being being 15 minutes late to work - “I arrived at 9:15am – despite the fact I had only left work around 3:15am the same day, and paid for my own taxi home."

Speaking to Develop, Brian Robbins (chair of the IGDA Board of Directors) has said that the association would fully investigate the issue. From Develop...

[But] certainly reports of 12-hour a day, lengthy crunch time, if true, are absolutely unacceptable and harmful to the individuals involved, the final product, and the industry as a whole...

We encourage any Team Bondi employee and/or family member to email qol@igda.org with comments about the recent past and current situation - positive or negative

Comments

Anonymous's picture

This is really great, it's a positive step for the IGDA to highlight these kinds of practices and condemn them. But... what does it actually mean when they say they're "investigating" Team Bondi? Are they simply trying to focus more attention on the issue, or something else? It'd be good to know a bit more about exactly what they're trying to achieve through this "investigation"...

souri's picture

To me, it looks like they want to know more about the issue before putting out an official statement on the matter.

What's a bit discouraging to me was hearing that initially, some IGDA members refused to comment on it at all when contacted, and Develop needed to get Brian Robbins to clarify IGDA's position. The IGDA are supposed to be huge proponents of Quality of Life in the industry. I thought it was one of the pillars of their organisation.

Anonymous's picture

Expecting someone to still come in at 9am with less than a few hours sleep is an OHS issue. Nobody is going to be fully productive in that sort of situation. It also increases the risk of workplace injuries.

These people should seek advice from the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Anonymous's picture

For some reason I found myself looking up the definition of Moloch yesterday due to watching Metropolis where there is a scene where this giant head is kinda eating the workers of the city:

"In modern English usage, 'Moloch' can refer derivatively to any person or thing which demands or requires costly sacrifices."

I'm not sure what the IGDA can do about it besides issuing a statement of some kind and generating industry interest in QoL issues. From reading the IGN article, it appears that a lawsuit to do with unpaid overtime was what made EA thing long and hard about changing their ways.

Personally, I think the long work hours all stem from what one person (Erin Hoffman, EA Spouse) so aptly said in the article:

"...they put their money on an idea guy, not a game designer."

It's one thing to have a grand vision, it's another, to know how to go about making it a reality and whether you can make it a reality to begin with. Otherwise you waste a lot of time and money -- not to mention "people" -- getting to the obvious.

--
http://sELFiNDUCEDcOMA.com

Anonymous's picture

Does the IDGA have any impact on anything????

I suspect their approval or otherwise of the TB managment amounts to sweet fuck all.

Anonymous's picture

I agree. I think it would be far more effective for (ex) TB employees to contact ACA or Today Tonight than the IGDA.

Anonymous's picture

Gamesindustry.biz has posted a big article on this topic including internal TB email.

Pretty interesting read.

http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2011-07-05-revealed-the-internal-e...

Katharine's picture

Shame on you, Brendan McNamara, and your management stooges. Exploitation, manipulation and lies for the sake of shipping a game is bad enough, but then robbing your people of their credits and then mouthing off like some kind of unrepentent bad ass on IGN? That's just downright spiteful.

The Australian game development community should be making it clear that management incompetence, lies and exploitation will not be countenanced. People could be passing motions of censure about this at their local IGDA chapter meetings, so that when journalists call, statements can be made on behalf of local developers at least (or if it's too late, a press release maybe?) I wouldn't wait for the IGDA international leadership to act (remember the Mike Capps affair? yeah, hardly a shining moment for the IGDA international leadership was it. But maybe things are better now).