10 Reasons Game Developers Crunch

Game developer Tanya Short talks about some of the reasons why game developers end up crunching and my personal take on Short's article on crunch

10 Reasons Game Developers Crunch

game developer crunch faceToday I happened to stumble upon an article titled: ‘The Curious Appeal of Crunch‘. In this article, game developer Tanya Short talks about some of the reasons why game developers end up crunching.

After reading Short’s post, I had stop and really reflect how I am tackling my own game development crunches. I often go in strides of days at a time to work on my craft, as a result, I end up straining myself.

For the last eight months, I have been listening to Gary Vaynerchuk, who is an entrepreneur and marketer that inspires me. Often he talks about the importance of the “hustle“, which is especially relevant to Short’s article since game developers keep on hustling till it’s done.

Short’s List of Reasons For Crunch:

  • The HoneyMoon
    • Game developers tend to want to obsess over the details and aspects of their projects. They will put in an intense workload to their problem solving and creativity skills.
  • White Collar Guilt
    • Our self egos, the competition with ourselves to do better helps create a picture of self worth. As that hamster wheel spins, working on your craft becomes easier.
  • Industriousness as Virtue
  • Plausible Deniability
    • “The market is the market. The market doesn’t care.“, a quote by Gary Vaynerchuk that sticks out for this one. Game Developers will have this undeniable feeling that they did the best that they could do, despite what the marketplace grades their product.
  • Martyr Syndrome
    • Dedicated developers will often pour their “blood, sweat, and tears” into the project. After their crunch, they will be the ones who feel as if they were the ‘saviors’ or ‘warriors’ of that studio/project.
  • Cognitive Dissonance
    • The moment where the game developer battles the thoughts between their actions and sacrifices on the project. Did they make a major mistake that will result in the project being a total failure? Is it going to be worth the work?
  • Perfectionism
    • Nothing is ever completed. There are many aspects game developers will improve in their creations. From polish, bug fixes, functionality, efficiency, and the list can go on and on. The point is, we are going to obsess.
  • Camaraderie
    • Other project members are here for a similar shared reason: “They want to be in the industry.” This helps create strong bonds between developers who end up going into the trenches with their comrades.
  • Learned Helplessness
    • “Get used to it. It’s not gonna change.”, starts to become the narrative we tell ourselves.
  • Culture
    • It’s been the norm, as a result we continue to follow the trend.

Crunches Negative Impact On Health

Crunches are a huge negative factor for our health. From sleep deprivation, burnouts, lack of creativity, ability, unhealthy eating, lack of exercise/blood flow are just to name a few.

For me, the biggest lesson I have learned from crunching is that sleep is very important!

I leave you with another piece of content I found inspiring to helping reverse the mindset towards crunching. In this video, Arianna Huffington of Huffington Post talks about the importance of sleep which is the focus of her latest book: The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time

I highly recommend picking up a copy of Arianna’s book: The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time because it may help you learn how to tackle some of the triggers for crunches. Save yourself and learn the value of sleep!

Moving Forward

“The truth is that many game developers crunch ourselves. We choose the risks of overwork over the risks of idleness. We are conspirators in our own self-destruction, whether we work for big companies or we work for ourselves. Even as we say we disapprove, we also tend to say it is necessary, or unavoidable, or some other word that absolves us of our decisions.” – Tanya Short


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Hi there, I'm Kyle. I'm a web developer and an indie game developer. Currently working on an android game called: Burning Rush developed in Game Maker: Studio and is currently in Early Access Stages.

I enjoy working with code, favorite language currently: Python.
Currently working: Freelance Part-time, Real Estate Marketing & Web Development Full-time, and Indie Game Development with Unholy Squid Entertainment.

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