The Crunch Article on Polygon

Polygon has published an excerpt from a book by Walt Williams, their headline: “Why I worship crunch”:

When I worship at the unholy altar of Crunch, everything outside of the work fades away. By design, my world is reduced to where I sleep and where I work. Every day must be fast, focused, and above all else, homogenized. Give myself too much downtime, too much room to think, and I start asking questions, like “Why am I doing this to myself?” So, I lose myself in the routine. When every day is a rehash of what has been, and a preview of what will be, they blend into one another. This creates an out-of-body effect, not unlike highway hypnosis. Soon, who I am becomes an abstract concept—a loose collection of character flaws and neurotic tendencies. Only then can my body become the vessel through which an impossible amount of work will be accomplished in a short amount of time.

I love it, except for when I hate it, but I can’t hate it if I never stop. Even when I’m not crunching, I work too much. I’ve edited scripts in ICU rooms, responded to emails while begging lovers not to walk out the door, sent brainstorming lists during the birth of my child. I held my grandfather’s hand while he passed away, then went into his office and wrote text for mission descriptions. None of this was expected of me, and no one would have dared to ask. I did all these things for me. Work brings order to my world. When things get tough, I slide down into my job and disappear. I let my health, relationships, and responsibilities fall to the wayside. When I finally come up for air, there’s a smoking crater where my life used to be. Instead of picking up the pieces to start again, I slip back down into the thick of it. This is how I cope.

That isn’t how anyone should live. Although the author says that it wasn’t expected of them, many of the situations they have described here are the terrible reality of what people working on games do in response to a spoken or unspoken expectation from management.

There are solutions for the majority of people who work (in games, or elsewhere) and are exploited. Unionization would let employees collectively bargain and achieve better work schedules or better compensation when they must work overtime.

Many of these businesses would almost instantly start managing games projects more efficiently with less overtime if employees were compensated properly for this kind of work and had collective bargaining instead of attempting to individually negotiate their contracts.

Walt Williams might love crunch, but any company that forces it on their employees as a regular matter should be punished for destroying the lives of the workers and their families.

Here’s a great take from Cameron Kunzelman at Waypoint:

At the end of the day, no matter how much an individual loves it, crunch is not about individuals themselves. Crunch is a systemic, top-down solution to the problem of extracting the most labor from game developers; it is a strategy that is implemented on workers, and it is performed widely in most sectors of the industry. One developer’s complicated relationship with crunch is a blip on the constantly-screaming radar of worker exploitation that the practice enables as part of the normal operation of the game industry. It is not an exception in one person’s life, it is the norm.

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds: Solo Squad

I’m still playing so much Battlegrounds, more than anything else it draws me back with it’s subtleties in strategy. Deciding if you want to get more combat experience and seek out fights and other players or find some gear and camp in the second floor of a house.

Lately I’ve been trying something different, playing on four-player servers as a lone wolf. It’s the most extreme challenge I’ve found in PUBG, and Cameron Kunzelman has an article expounding the virtues of solo squad up on Waypoint:

The game plays differently in Solo Squad mode. There is no running and gunning. You can’t win any encounters by rushing your enemies and yelling. You can take one player when they’re off guard, but sneaking up on four people is next to impossible. Taking a long-range, tactical encounter is usually your best bet if you’re trying to fight at all, although a shotgun can make much quicker work of a team than you might think if you’re waiting around the right corner.

Cameron’s strategy of fighting instead of hiding in order to better learn PUBG’s combat systems is also recommend. I’d add one more tip: play in first-person. You lose the ability to cheat around corners and will have to keep in mind that other players are able to do so, but I’ve gotten way closer to a chicken dinner by playing in first-person.

The Beginner’s Guide

The developer behind The Stanley Parable has released a new game for Mac, Linux, and Windows. It’s called The Beginner’s Guide. It wouldn’t be right to do a video of this, at about an hour and a half long the video could spoil the whole thing. Wreden describes it like this:

It lasts about an hour and a half and has no traditional mechanics, no goals or objectives. Instead, it tells the story of a person struggling to deal with something they do not understand.

Paste Games’ Cameron Kunzelman has a positive review:

In his 1960 New York Times review of Psycho, Bosley Crowther leans into talking about Alfred Hitchcock rather than the film. He writes in the comparative, calling Hitchcock an “old hand” who has made an “obviously low-budget job,” but it’s crucial for me to point out that those things aren’t necessarily negative for Crowther (although the review isn’t a positive one). Instead, his entire review is about attempting to navigate the relationship between Psycho the film with Hitchcock the man. Ultimately, Crowther finds the film lacking in something and suggests that the problem might be that Hitchcock’s “explanations are a bit of leg-pulling by a man who has been known to resort to such tactics in his former films.” Time has been kind to Psycho, but for Crowther, it couldn’t escape the known-quantity orbit of its creator.

When Davey Wreden opens The Beginner’s Guide with his voice, name and email address, you get the feeling that there’s something Hitchcockian going on here. Hitchcock made himself a part of his cinematic worlds both as a framer and as a cameo actor, and through that he was able to infuse those films with a weird energy.