Crunch time: The reasons and effects of unpaid overtime in the games industry
Conference contribution, 2017

The games industry is notorious for its intense work ethics with uncompensated overtime and weekends at the office, also known as crunch or crunch time. Since crunch time is so common within the industry, is it possible that the benefits of crunch time outweigh the disadvantages? By studying postmortems and conducting interviews with employees in the industry, we aim to characterise crunch time and discover its effects on the industry. We provide a classification of crunch, i.e., four types of crunch which all have distinct characteristics and affect the product, employees and schedule in various ways. One of the crunch types stands out from the others by only having positive effects on product and schedule. A characteristic that all of the types have in common is an increase in stress levels amongst the employees. We identify a set of reasons for crunch and show that crunch is less pronounced in game studios where prioritisation of features is a regular practice. © 2017 IEEE.

Games industry

Agile development

Human factors

Unpaid overtime

Types of crunch

Sustainable pace



Henrik Edholm

University of Gothenburg

Lidström Mikaela

University of Gothenburg

Jan-Philipp Steghöfer

University of Gothenburg

Håkan Burden

Viktoria Swedish ICT

Proceedings - 2017 IEEE/ACM 39th International Conference on Software Engineering: Software Engineering in Practice Track, ICSE-SEIP 2017


Areas of Advance

Information and Communication Technology

Subject Categories

Computer Science





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