2004 IGDA Quality of Life Survey

As excerpted from the 2004 IGDA Whitepaper on Quality of Life:

The 90-page "Quality of Life in the Game Industry: Challenges and Best Practices" white paper was prepared by the IGDA's Quality of Life Committee, representing a wide range of game development professions and companies.

The white paper discusses the problems and consequences developers face when trying to maintain a career in the industry and the solutions for establishing a better work/life balance.

The white paper is partly based on the results of the "Quality of Life Survey" commissioned by the IGDA in early 2004, which garnered nearly one thousand responses from developers. The survey examined developers' attitudes toward work, their internal pressures (salary, long hours, job instability), external pressures (family and relationships), inadequate staffing and work organization problems. Some of the alarming findings from the survey include:

  • 34.3% of developers expect to leave the industry within 5 years, and 51.2% within 10 years.
  • Only 3.4% said that their coworkers averaged 10 or more years of experience.
  • Crunch time is omnipresent, during which respondents work 65 to 80 hours a week (35.2%). The average crunch work week exceeds 80 hours (13%). Overtime is often uncompensated (46.8%).
  • 44% of developers claim they could use more people or special skills on their projects.
  • Spouses are likely to respond that "You work too much..." (61.5%); "You are always stressed out." (43.5%); "You don't make enough money." (35.6%).
  • Contrary to expectations, more people said that games were only one of many career options for them (34%) than said games were their only choice (32%).

The IGDA white paper explains how studios can adopt best practices to help alleviate some of the stress and allow for a more balanced life:

  • Family friendly practices
  • A conscious effort to minimize overtime
  • Better communication between management and developers
  • Better contracts between individuals, studios and publishers
  • Better planning and budgeting
  • Better human resource management