Valve’s managing director Gabe Newell has spoken out about his concern of the stress placed on his employees’ families during the process of developing a game, saying that "you can’t ruin people’s home lives in order to benefit your business".
"I think the people who work here are having a good time in terms of enjoying their work and not being too stressed out," said Newell talking in a conference call with a marketing class at Tippecanoe Valley High School.
"One thing I’m worried about is the amount of stress that we put on some of the families. When you’re running a business for the long-run, sooner or later that’s gonna bite you. You can’t ruin people’s home lives in order to benefit your business or it blows up in the long run.
"Right now we seem to be a little out of balance in some people’s lives in terms of, we’re not telling them to work on weekends but people are working on the weekends, and we need to figure out how to communicate that."
But Newell says that in order to better connect with his employees, he takes all of his employees’ families on a trip every year.
"One of the things we do that helps buffer that is we take all of the families on a trip each year, and it gives everybody a chance to connect with other people at the company and feel a part of it, and yell at me, and that’s coming up pretty soon.
"I’m sure I’ll have lots of opportunities to talk to people with their families to get a better handle on how that’s working. Those really are the things that we worry about."
The issue of abnormal workloads placed on developers and the stress placed on their families has frequently hit the newsstands.
Last January, the wives of developers at Rockstar San Diego voiced their concerns about the demands placed on their partners, saying that employees were told to work "harder, longer, faster," and that the firm had "grown a thirst for power".
Then, last month, an insider at Homefront developer Kaos Studios claimed that the entire studio had been expected to work ten-hour days since mid-2010, something later confirmed by studio director David Votypka.
"Digital Media companies, Marketers, PR, even Accountants in various industries throughout the nation, work 10 hour days regularly, 52 weeks per year," said Votypka on the subject.
Valve’s next game, Portal 2, releases on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC in April.
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