Waypoint is a publication I have just recently discovered, connecting video games with many of the social issues that are apparent today. During E3 2018, Waypoint interviewed 14 different companies within the gaming industry, asking many of them the way they handle crunch time in development. One of the best answers came from Reggie Fils-Aime, who stated that Nintendo of America strives to ensure enough resources are available to account for crunch time, including “…adding headcount as appropriate to help us get over a crunch.”
Waypoint kept interviews with developers to only 15 minutes, so we’ve included their highlights of Reggie’s interview below:
How is Nintendo committed—and what are you doing now to—to ensure that there is good work-life balance and fair conditions across first party title development, your executive level, your support roles, the stuff happening at Nintendo, and hopefully even at close partners? How are you combating an industry wide relationship to crunch that can often be deeply unhealthy.
Fils-Aimé: So look, I can only answer this question from Nintendo of America perspective and for us, crunch happens differently. It’s not a development crunch, but it could be a bug check crunch. Or it’s a crunch in preparing for an event. Or a crunch in preparing a game to pass our lot check process. Our approach is this: We flex through the use of contract employees. We flex in the way we work with our agency partners. Our mentality is we’re going to flex by adding headcount as appropriate to help us get over a crunch. That’s the way we approach it.
Does that mean bringing on more employees so that work hours don’t become extensive?
Fils-Aimé: That’s correct.
And you have examples of doing that recently? That’s just the normal strategy?
Fils-Aimé: That’s is our course of business. That’s the way we operate. And so we’re not asking people to go for a couple days without sleep. We’re not asking people to ignore their family and friends and their social life. We’re not asking people to do things that are unhealthy. That is not our approach.
Do you think that there is as Nintendo, as a platform holder, some ability that… You know, Nintendo can’t fix the world, I understand that, but as a platform holder, some ability to attempt to address this industry-wide problem?
Fils-Aimé: Well, again, I believe the best way to lead the is through example. And so what we do is reinforce with the way we encourage our business partners to act with the way that we encourage, if you will, the community that we touch.
And it’s not only on work life balance. It’s issues like diversity and inclusion. You know, with all of those tough conversations our mentality is that we’re going to model the behavior that we want seen. So that’s why I have a diverse senior management team. That’s why as a black man leading a Japanese company, I feel good about the things that we do to deal with higher order issues and to deal with them in a way that models positive behavior.
It is great to see Nintendo attempt to maintain a healthy work / life balance during the intense moments of crunch time, especially during a time where many companies overwork their developers. What do you think of Nintendo of America’s approach to crunch time? Are you impressed with their approach, or does it leave you wanting something more? Is there another company you appreciate based on how they treat their employees? Let us know in the comments below!