Rampant Crunch At Japanese Game Devs Is An Unspoken Reality. Here’s Why.

Trigger warning: This article discusses depression, suicide, and associated outcomes of work-related stress.

Attention regarding development crunch, once a relatively unremarked upon reality of game development, has gone mainstream. As the gaming industry matures and the public becomes more aware of the employment practices at their favorite studios, crunch has become a common part of the lexicon. Exposes have been written about crunch culture in the closing weeks of massive triple-A releases, and players have grown more vocal about the practice and put pressure on companies to build sustainable work environments.

But even as studios in the West come under increased scrutiny, we hear precious little about the development practices and crunch in a major swath of the gaming industry: Japanese developers. This raises obvious practical questions: Does crunch exist within Japanese studios? How is it recognized and treated within the cultural context of Japanese businesses? And how can Western consumers who care about healthy working environments advocate for it in a region that is so geographically and culturally separated from our own?

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Author: Steve Watts