There’s a ton of news articles and statements released over the past few years about crunch. It’s a term that’s looked down upon in this industry and for good reason. Essentially, what crunch means is that a development studio goes into overdrive causing employees to work long hours with some reports suggesting that with crunch, a workplace turns toxic. With little to no time off and endlessly working to see a video game title release into the market, no one likes crunch. However, there is one person who views crunch as a positive and that’s John Carmack.
For those of you who don’t know John Carmack is the co-founder of id Software who made video games such as Wolfenstein 3D and Doom. However, he now works with Oculus VR and most recently, was featured on a Joe Rogan podcast where he discussed a variety of things. One of those subjects was crunch in the video game industry. Apparently, John Carmack referred to crunch as having a passion for your product and going beyond to see its release. John finds that there is a real power to obsess over something such as your life’s work.
The problem that I believe most will have with the statements going around online regarding John Carmack and crunch is the fact that for some, this is not their life’s work. For instance, we can look at the statements released not too long ago from those who worked with Naughty Dog. If these statements are proven to be real, then it looks like crunch is used in a variety of ways such as paying employees the bare minimum as an incentive to work longer hours. Pushing workers to go beyond and above can also create some toxicity in the workplace. Some development studios have vowed against crunch while others continue to openly state that crunch is still very much a phase in development.