Video game crunch has been a hot-button issue across the video game industry, whether it be big, triple-A studios or small-time indies
Nobody should be worked to the bone without fair compensation. Payment for overtime work, a well-managed timeline, and due diligence are what many in the industry are pushing for.
Recently, YouTube channel People Make Games highlighted the alleged presence of crunch culture at two studios in Southeast Asia
The two studios are Malaysia-based Lemon Sky Studios and Indonesia-based Brandoville Studios.
With purported testimonies from employees and former employees of both companies, People Make Games, in its video on 4 March, highlighted the alleged mistreatment of these workers at the studios, which includes unpaid overtime and the expectation that employees should work beyond regular hours.
The video sought not only to highlight the amount of crunch that is supposedly happening in our region's studios, but also how companies from the West are allegedly outsourcing crunch and profiting from the mistreatment of Southeast Asia's game developers.
The homegrown CGI art studio Lemon Sky Studios is behind game titles such as the Final Fantasy VII Remake, Spiderman, Last of Us Part II, and Marvel's Avengers among others.
IGN Southeast Asia reached out to both the studios. Following which, Lemon Sky issued an official statement, denying the allegations.
Below is the studio's statement in full:
"We abide by all Malaysian employment laws pertaining to work hours, and the contractual terms, and conditions of employment with our employees. The allegations made against Lemon Sky Studios regarding overtime payments are factually and legally inaccurate. This position applies to all employees of Lemon Sky Studios (including former employees).
"We value the efforts of our employees and take employee wellbeing and mental health very seriously. In addition to conducting an ethical business and adhering to the standard industry practices, we have gone above and beyond to create an open and holistic environment where our employees have access to recreational opportunities and a space in which their mental health is given priority.
"Accordingly, we are surprised that such allegations are targeted at Lemon Sky. As in any situation where allegations are made, management will take appropriate measures in response. This will include a process for obtaining feedback from ALL of our employees regarding their individual concerns. We remain steadfast in our pursuit to Make Good Art and we will continue to do so as we grow and improve."
As at the time of writing, Brandoville Studios has not reached out to IGN Southeast Asia with their own statement, and have also remained silent on their various social media channels
It cannot be stressed enough how crunch can be avoided given the right management and expectations set by the upper echelons of a company, regardless of the industry.
While outsourcing crunch and crunch culture are hotly debated topics, working without fair compensation is wrong. Hopefully, this will serve as a wake-up call for all of us.
We impart you with the immortal words of Mario's creator, Shigeru Miyamoto: "A delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is forever bad."
The full article originally appeared on IGN Southeast Asia
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