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The perils of project-based work: Attempting resistance to extreme work practices in video game development
  • Amanda Peticca-Harris, Grenoble Ecole de Management
  • Johanna Weststar, Western University
  • Steve McKenna, York University
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This article examines two blogs written by the spouses of game developers about extreme and exploitative working conditions in the video game industry and the associated reader comments. The wives of these video game developers and members of the game community decry these working conditions and challenge dominant ideologies about making games. This article contributes to the work intensification literature by challenging the belief that long hours are necessary and inevitable to make successful games, discussing the negative toll of extreme work on workers and their families, and by highlighting that the project-based structure of game development both creates extreme work conditions and inhibits resistance. It considers how extreme work practices are legitimized through neo-normative control mechanisms made possible through project-based work structures and the perceived imperative of a race or ‘crunch’ to meet project deadlines. The findings show that neo-normative control mechanisms create an insularity within project teams and can make it difficult for workers to resist their own extreme working conditions, and at times to even understand them as extreme.


This is an author-accepted manuscript. The final published version of this article is available from SAGE Journals in Organization at

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0
Citation Information
Amanda Peticca-Harris, Johanna Weststar and Steve McKenna. "The perils of project-based work: Attempting resistance to extreme work practices in video game development" Organization Vol. 22 Iss. 4 (2015) p. 570 - 587
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