Mailbag: How the Observer began, and how to help crunch culture


How’s it going everybody, Adrian Simple here from, for Mailbag Saturday September 19th. For questions or comments of your own,

Alright our first question here comes from Mercy who asks what made me think of creating the Gaming Observer. You know, the story is actually pretty simple. I had a friend who mentioned this unique concept of Lexi flash briefings, and I liked the idea so much that I ordered a device for myself. Upon searching for one about video games, all that came up was IGN. I thought “hey, I’ve got a microphone, I think I could pull this off!”. And then within 2 weeks I had 100 daily listeners. It really threw me off guard, but I’m really happy I tried it out, because look at where we are now. In a similar vein I’ve got another question here from Imerg who asks how much preparation it takes to make this show. For the regular news updates, it takes anywhere between 60 and 90 minutes start to finish. The process is probably what you could imagine, I scan the headlines, choose my favourites, then I do more in-depth research. Once I’ve done that I write the script, record, edit, and upload. It’s pretty rudimentary, but it does take time to get right, and one day I look forward to making even more content when I have more time.

This one comes from Zach and he says that a lot of workplaces have taken steps to stop themselves from crunching, and asks what else could companies could do to eliminate it. This is a really great question, and there’s an important caveat here that I’ve never created video games myself so I’m not intimiately familar with the process. But what I can tell you is that I come from the live theatre industry, where we also do a lot of collaborative work for an end product. From that perspective, it’s all about pre-production. By far the most expensive thing about creating is the labour to create it. When I sit down to schedule my labour, I make damn sure that everything is ready for them when they arrive. The more time they spend actually creating, the better, and the cheaper. And from the stories I see from gaming, there’s a lot of people who just throw every expensive thing at the wall before they actually figure out where they’re going. Now the other aspect of this is leadership. If the people who run the business think that it’s the only way to work in the industry, nothing will change that other than legal repercussions, or a cultural upheaveal. Part of my job as a broadcaster is to bring some of these issues to light so that we can change our mindsets as whole, so that more people will speak out against these practices. I mean, there’s a lot of companies out there who have publicly denied crunch culture and have still released amazing and successful games. True, we probably don’t have mega hits like Fortnite and GTA V without crunch, but those games were also made by private companies. They don’t aren’t accountable to shareholders, so why not spend a few other billion dollars to actually make their worker’s lives bearable? And if the people in charge actually cared about the players enjoyment of the game, rather than pumping out a product, I would hope that they’d recognize that a happier workforce means a better product overall. Anyway I could talk about that for a long time, but there’s certainly much more to be on a lot of levels, whether that’s legal, cultural, or local.

Thanks for the questions everyone, to submityour own. I’ll be back tomorrow with the game releases from the last week, and on Monday with the news. Until then…Happy Gaming everyone!