Game developer playing their game, testing out project

Gaming companies have spent the past several years attempting to tweak their internal culture. Some of the hardest-charging game studios have sworn to reduce “crunch time” and long hours, just as others are working hard on becoming more diverse, equitable, and inclusive. How are those efforts actually succeeding?

The Game Developers Conference (GDC) launches an annual report that takes a deep dive into the trends and challenges facing the game industry. Based off responses from 2,300 game developers, this year’s report shows that the gaming industry is doing pretty well as a whole when it comes to giving its tech pros a solid work-life balance, but there remains much work to be done when it comes to DEIB (diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging initiatives).

A majority of game developers work 45 hours or less. That should come as welcome news to anyone who’s heard stories about rushed production schedules and the dreaded “crunch time,” although 20 percent of developers still reported putting in more than 45 hours per week (and four percent said they’d worked more than 60 hours).

“About three-fourths of developers noted self-pressure as a reason they worked more than 40 hours in one week,” the report added. “One-third said they didn’t consider the amount of time they worked to be excessive, while 14 percent said they felt pressured by management to work longer hours.”      

But when it comes to DEIB initiatives, however, not all companies seem willing to engage. While 59 percent of respondents’ companies have focused on staff diversity, equity, and inclusion either a “great deal” or a “moderate amount,” others have done either little or none at all:

Around 96 percent of respondents reported these initiatives were at least slightly successful. Some game companies have initiated an aggressive effort to make their workforces and workflows more inclusive. “Our parent company has a large staff investment in reviewing and making DEI recommendations to modify our job postings and to widen the funnel to increase the applicant pool among underrepresented groups,” one anonymous respondent wrote. “We also have a great deal of mandatory training materials around fostering DEI within our culture, including implicit bias and civil rights training.”

On a tactical level, many game studios have tweaked their hiring processes, including “blind” CV reviews, “open days” for talent from underrepresented groups to show off their skills, and a conscious effort to shift hiring mentality. “All interviews are required to have a diversity specialist as part of the process,” another anonymous respondent added. “We have updated all our documents to represent our diversity goals. We have had staff training on diversity and inclusion issues. We are reaching out to underrepresented STEAM students.”

Overall, the game industry remains overwhelmingly white/Caucasian:

Of course, DEIB is a struggle across the whole tech industry, as illuminated in Dice’s new Discrimination in Tech fact sheet, which provides some crucial information about the DEIB landscape at the moment. At their heart, DEIB programs aren’t just about improving a company’s internal diversity and culture; they can also boost retention and morale—critical concerns for any company.