From Valve, the makers of … well, rather a lot of acclaimed, massively profitable, hit games (Half Life, Portal, Left 4 Dead) … This was leaked/posted widely last week: Valve’s new “Employee Handbook”. (although “leak” is probably the wrong word – it’s part of a wave of “Valve is a great place to work” events recently, suggesting a guerrilla recruitment drive).
Nicely written, this is more of a “cultural” doc than a “legal” one. Here’s what they say on Crunch:
“While people occasionally choose to push themselves to
work some extra hours at times when something big is
going out the door, for the most part working overtime for
extended periods indicates a fundamental failure in planning
or communication. If this happens at Valve, it’s a sign
that something needs to be reevaluated and corrected.”
Taken out of context, that quote can be read both ways – either “Crunch is normal, and OK, and we don’t mind it, unless it gets REALLY long” … or “Crunch is wrong, shouldn’t be done, should be stopped whenever it starts”.
Within context, though, most of the doc touches on similar subjects by strongly implying what’s intended, without explicitly saying it. There’s a lot of sly “you’re smart; you get the joke, dear Reader, but fools might not” comments in there.
It’s great that they come out and describe Crunch as “for the most part … a fundamental failure”, but it’s a great pity that they didn’t (in this particular doc), come out and say “Crunch is always wrong”. There’s more than enough wiggle-room in their statement to allow bad companies and poor managers to find a pro-crunch message.