Outdoor short break company Center Parcs is proving popular with the gaming industry as companies look to promote staff wellness through company-wide getaways.
Crunch culture in the video games industry has long been an issue resulting in studio employees having a heavy workload and working significant overtime to ensure that a game will keep on schedule. This often means long hours and working over the evening and weekends, sometimes unpaid.
While the games industry still sees cases of crunch culture, some are taking steps to ensure this no longer happens. Part of combating the issue is allowing employees to step away and have a digital detox.
Center Parcs offers space for conferences, events and team building and has become a popular place for employees to take a short outdoor break. This has become more popular with tech companies, and demand from video game developers is rising.
Center Parcs’ conferences and events have seen a 72% increase in corporate getaway enquiries from IT companies between 2019 and 2023, with the average value of bookings doubling across the same period. In 2023, Woburn Forest received over 130 enquiries from tech companies, making IT the largest enquiring sector for the location, accounting for 23% of all confirmed revenue.
Gaming companies such as Space Ape Games and FuturLab have joined the newly refurbished conferences and events facility The Venue. In joining up, companies seek to provide workers with a better work/life balance and prevent burnout. Crunch culture can see game developers working for up to 65-80 hours per week and when a new game is due to launch, work hours can see a significant rise to meet deadlines.
This has a huge impact on workers and their physical and mental well-being. We are seeing more games get delayed and while this often comes down to the title needing more time to bake, sometimes it’s highlighted that a project is being pushed back to avoid crunch. The Wolf Among Us 2 was recently delayed, with the official announcement stating, “We’re committed to delivering the sequel fans deserve and doing what’s right for the game while protecting the health of our team.”
Healthy work life
Making sure that employees aren’t working overly long hours and putting their well-being before a deadline is something that we will see more of as studios look to combat crunch culture. It also appears that outdoor retreats away from the digital world are helping those in tech and the gaming industry to detox from the typical workday and explore a healthier work-life balance.
Marketing coordinator at FuturLab, Jess Green said, “As a thank you to the team for pouring their time and talent into PowerWash Simulator, we decided to spirit everyone away to Center Parcs in Woburn Forest for a weekend of friends, fun and nature. We wanted the team to treat this as their own break as well as a chance to bond with colleagues, so we chose a relaxed itinerary which allowed delegates to enjoy the activities on offer at their own leisure. FuturLab is focusing on employee wellbeing as a top priority for the studio.”
The games industry has organisations such as Safe In Our World, which aims to promote mental health awareness. The group often holds charity fundraisers to raise awareness and is also known to release toolkits that may contain self-care tips.