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在游戏行业,他们正在被疯狂加班文化摧毁

更新时间:2017-10-29 11:56:35 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Video Games Are Destroying the People Who Make Them
在游戏行业,他们正在被疯狂加班文化摧毁

Among video game developers, it’s called “crunch”: a sudden spike in work hours, as many as 20 a day, that can last for days or weeks on end. During this time, they sleep at work, limit bathroom breaks and cut out anything that pulls their attention away from their screens, including family and even food. Crunch makes the industry roll — but it’s taking a serious toll on its workers.

在电子游戏开发者们当中,有种情况被称为密集加班:工作时间突然飙升,每天最高达20小时,可能持续数天乃至数周。在这段时期,他们只在工作时打个盹,上厕所的次数减少,拒绝任何会让注意力从屏幕上移开的东西,包括家人,甚至是食物。密集加班令这个行业保持运转——但它令从业者付出了沉重代价。

In late 2011, as he was finishing up production on the role-playing game The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the programmer Jean Simonet started feeling severe stomach pains. At first, doctors were perplexed. But on his third emergency room visit, he revealed that he’d been regularly staying at the office late and coming in on weekends to fix bugs and add features that he thought would take Skyrim from good to great, no matter how much sleep he lost along the way.

2011年年底,在角色扮演游戏《上古卷轴V:天际》(The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim)的收尾阶段,程序员让·西莫内(Jean Simonet),感到严重的胃痛。起初,医生们对此都感到困惑。但他第三次去看急诊时透露,自己经常在办公室加班到很晚,周末也要去办公室修改漏洞,并且为《天际》增添了种种他认为会令这个游戏锦上添花的特色,不管这要损失他多少睡眠时间。

He took his doctor’s advice and took the next few weeks off work, trying to relax and acclimate to a normal sleep schedule. With this hiatus from crunch, “eventually the pain just disappeared,” he said.

他接受医生建议,在接下来的几个星期内远离工作,努力放松身心,适应正常的睡眠时间表。由于暂时离开了密集加班状态,“最后疼痛就这么消失了,”他说。

Anecdotes like this are common in the video game industry, which generated $30.4 billion in the United States last year but has a human cost that can’t be calculated. The designer Clint Hocking described suffering memory loss as a result of the stress and anxiety of crunching on a game. Brett Douville, a veteran game programmer, said he once worked so long and for so hard that he found himself temporarily unable to step out of his car.

这样的故事在该行业很常见。去年美国的电子游戏行业创造了304亿美元的产值,但是人们付出的代价无法计算。设计师克林特·霍金(Clint Hocking)描述,游戏开发过程中的密集加班导致的压力和焦虑令他出现失忆。资深游戏程序员布雷特·杜维尔(Brett Douville)说,有一次他连续工作太久,一时无法自己走下车子。

Modern video games like Mass Effect and Uncharted cost tens of millions of dollars and require the labor of hundreds of people, who can each work 80- or even 100-hour weeks. In game development, crunch is not constrained to the final two or three weeks of a project. A team might crunch at any time, and a crunch might endure for several months. Programmers will stay late on weeknights to squash bugs, artists will use weekends to put the final polish on their characters, and everyone on the team will feel pressured to work extra hours in solidarity with overworked colleagues.

像《质量效应》(Mass Effect)和《神秘海域》(Uncharted)这样的现代电子游戏开发费用高达数千万美元,需要数百人的劳动力才能完成,他们每周可以工作80甚至100小时。在游戏开发中,密集加班并不局限于项目的最后两三周。一个团队可能会在任何阶段开始密集加班,一次密集加班可能会持续数月。程序员会在周末深夜修改漏洞,动漫人员会利用周末对角色做最后的修饰,而团队中的每个人都会感到压力,要去加班,以与超负荷工作的同事们保持一致。

In a 2016 survey by the International Game Developers Association, 65 percent of developers said they’d had to crunch, with 52 percent adding that they’d done it more than twice in the previous two years. (Of those who said they did not crunch, 32 percent noted “that their job did require periods of long hours, extended work hours or extended overtime that was just not called ‘crunch.’ ”)

在国际游戏开发者协会(International Game Developers Association)2016年进行的调查中,65%的开发者表示曾经不得不密集加班,52%的人补充说,他们在过去两年中已经有过两次以上的密集加班。(至于那些表示自己没有密集加班过的人,32%的人表示:“他们的工作需要持续很长时间,这些延长的工作时间或加班时间只是不被称为‘密集加班’而已”。)

While many jobs are demanding, the conditions in this industry are uniquely unforgiving. Most game developers in the United States do not receive extra compensation for extra hours. They may gaze with envy at their colleagues in the film industry, where unions help regulate hours and ensure overtime pay. Their income pales in comparison to what’s offered in other fields with reputations for brutal hours, like banking and law. The average American game developer earned $83,060 in 2013, according to a Gamasutra survey, or less than half the pay of a first-year associate at a New York law firm.

虽然很多工作都要求人们付出时间精力,但游戏行业的情况格外严酷。美国大多数游戏开发者不会因为加班得到额外补偿。他们可能会羡慕电影界的同行,因为电影行业的工会可以帮助从业者规范工作时间,并确保他们能拿到加班费。与银行和法律行业等同样以工作时间极为残酷著称的其他领域相比,游戏开发者的收入水平相形失色。根据Gamasutra网站的一项调查,2013年美国游戏开发者的平均收入是83060美元,不到纽约律师事务所菜鸟合伙人的一半。

While I was reporting for a book on how video games are made, veteran game makers told me stories of lost family time, relationship strains and such severe burnout that they considered leaving for other industries.

当我为一本关于制作电子游戏的书做采访时,许多老牌游戏从业者告诉我,他们失去了和家人相处的时间,亲密关系充满压力,产生严重的倦怠感,因此考虑离开这个行业。

“People think that making games is easy,” said Marcin Iwinski, a co-chief executive and co-founder of CD Projekt Red, the Polish developer of a 2015 game, The Witcher 3. “It’s hard-core work. It can destroy your life.”

“人们觉得做游戏很容易,”CD Projekt Red公司联合首席执行官兼联合创始人马尔钦·伊温斯基(Marcin Iwinski)说,该公司于2015年推出了游戏《巫师3:狂猎》(The Witcher 3)。“这是一项极其艰苦的工作,能毁掉你的生活。”

Mr. Iwinski, like many other top video game creators, sees crunch as a necessary evil. He and other developers say because of the rapid evolution of video game technology, among other reasons, the time it takes to complete basic tasks can vary drastically from project to project, which makes it difficult to plan accurate schedules.

伊温斯基和其他许多顶级电子游戏创作者一样,将密集加班视为不得不去接受的弊病。和其他开发者一样,他认为其中最重要的原因是,由于电子游戏技术的飞速发展,完成基本任务所需的时间可能会因项目而异,变化极大,因此难以规划精确的时间表。

A growing faction of game developers, however, argues that it’s possible to make good games without crunching. Tanya X. Short, a co-founder of the independent studio Kitfox Games, asked colleagues to sign an online pledge against excessive overtime. The pledge, which was published last year, has been signed by over 500 game developers.

然而,越来越多的游戏开发者认为,不搞密集加班也可以做出好的游戏。独立工作室Kitfox Games的联合创始人坦娅·X·肖特(Tanya X. Short)呼吁同行们在线签署保证书,绝不过度加班。这份保证书于去年公布,已经有500多名游戏开发者签名。

“Crunch trades short-term gains for long-term suffering,” said Ms. Short in an email.

“密集加班能带来短期收益,从长远来看却会带来损害,”肖特在一封电子邮件中写道。

To avoid long-term deleterious effects, game developers must commit to stop facilitating a culture in which crunch is the norm. The occasional long night or weekend at the office can be useful and even exhilarating, but as a constant, it is damaging. No video game is worth burnout, brain damage or overnight stays at the hospital.

为了避免长期的有害影响,游戏开发者必须做出承诺,不再促进这种令密集加班成为常态的文化。办公室里偶尔的通宵或周末加班可能是有用的,甚至是令人兴奋的,但经常如此就是有害的。没有任何电子游戏值得以职业倦怠、脑损伤或者住院为代价。

Those of us who cover the video game industry can see that the current conditions are unsustainable. Too many of the people who make games have left for more lucrative, less stressful industries. Too many who have stayed have suffered the physical and mental consequences. Game developers need to insist — to their bosses and, most important, to themselves — that health comes first.

我们这些报道电子游戏行业的人可以看出,目前的情况是不可持续的。太多游戏开发人员已经离开,去了报酬更丰厚,压力较小的行业。太多留下的人身心健康受到了损害。游戏开发人员需要向老板们坚持——最重要的是自己也要坚持——健康是第一位的。

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