Videogame Developers among “Extreme” Workers: Are Death Marches Over?

Marie-Josée Legault, Johanna Weststar


Abstract Purpose. The videogame industry is a work environment that is emblematic of O’Carroll’s (2015) encompassing model of a 24/7/365 working time model of flexibility. We use O’Carroll’s model to challenge two myths about videogame developers (VGDs): the long hours of work are in fact unpredictable hours, and flextime HR programs do not allow for real control over working hours.
Design/methodology/approach. We use a mixed methods approach (international online survey and 100 Canadian interviews) to analyse the case of VGDs - a different, but similar type of worker to the IT workers analysed by O’Carroll.
Findings. We can generalize O’Carroll’s model based on the IT case to the VGD case. Based on these two cases, we propose that the rise of project-based work environments is a major explanatory factor of this raising trend in the 24/7/365 model of flexibility.
Research limitations/implications. More research examining project-based regimes in other sectors and settings is required to generalize further
Originality/value. Though this model can appear to fit the reality of knowledge work in general, it more accurately describes project-based work in creative environments, which is nearly always knowledge work, but the reverse cannot be inferred.
Paper type. Article.

Keywords: videogame developers, working time, long hours, project-based work, knowledge work