Justin Williams Laser
Justin C Williams Laser

Justin C. Williams Laser’s Brief History of Light Gun Games

Justin C. Williams Laser reviews a timeline of light gun games’ popularity.

 

While the popularity of light gun games (games in which the player utilizes a controller shaped like a gun to shoot targets on screen) has been waning in recent years, the genre’s roots stretch back further than many people may realize, Justin C. Williams Laser notes. The first light gun game was created before even electronic video games were invented—the Seeburg Ray-O-Lite, a wooden arcade cabinet with analog moving parts released in 1936, used a light gun as its control method. In this case, the gun literally shot a ray of light, which was then picked up by light-detecting sensors located behind or within wooden cut-out targets of birds. The methods and techniques used to create light gun games since the 1930s, but the core gameplay has, unsurprisingly, remained the same: point and shoot.

As mechanical games began losing popularity, electronic games came to the forefront and the technology behind light guns changed to match: instead of shooting light, the guns were built to receive light that is displayed in a specific manner by the game when the trigger is pulled. Many would point to Nintendo’s Duck Hunt as the earliest example they can think of for a home electronic light gun game, but Justin C. Williams Laser points out there were predecessors. One of the earliest was for the Magnavox Oddysey, entitled Shooting Gallery.

The Odyssey was a primitive home game console with limited display capabilities. In fact, Justin C. Williams Laser notes, it could only display three square-shaped dots and one vertical line. The console was packaged with “overlays” for your television screen—in this case, players would place the “Shooting Gallery” overlay on top of their screen, which displayed numerous outlines of animals, and plug in the corresponding game card. The dots would light up behind the animals in predetermined sequences. The light gun for the Oddysey was a large, realistic-looking rifle (Justin C. Williams Laser mentions it even needed to be cocked after every shot). Most gun controllers released in the future would adopt a more toy-like design and coloring, for numerous somewhat obvious reasons.

As time marched on, several conventions of the light gun genre changed and became conventionalized: the popular rifle shape of the controller transitioned into a pistol, which is now ubiquitously the standard for light guns. New gameplay standards were also established over time, such as moving “through” levels as new targets pop up. More often than not, Justin C. Williams Laser mentions, the player is not in direct control of their character. This has led to the alternate naming of the genre as “on rails” or “rails shooter”, as an allusion to theme park rides.

Unfortunately, classic light gun controllers are no longer compatible with newer HD TVs, as a result of their technology making use of the manner in which older televisions refreshed their pictures. Justin C. Williams Laser points out that while modern controllers make use of infrared (such as the Wii controller), they aren’t as accurate due to input lag.

Justin Williams Laser

Justin Williams Laser Explores the Weirdest Video Game Spin-offs

Justin Williams Laser takes a look at some of the strangest offshoots of well-known titles.

 

Sometimes when there are beloved characters or concepts that don’t get enough screentime in the main attraction, a spin-off makes perfect sense. However, Justin Williams Laser wants to take a look at the games that have no logical reason to even exist in the first place. Sometimes a developer just wants to try something new—and sometimes, it pays off in a big way.

Justin Williams Laser first points out Pokemon Snap for the Nintendo 64. This odd spinoff moves away from the RPG gameplay of capturing and battling monsters and moves you into a photographer role. The game, which is fully 3D, moves you along a predetermined track, akin to a lightgun game or a theme park ride. Your goal is to try to capture as many good shots as you can along the way and be graded on them at the end of the “ride”. While the concept seems strange in theory, it proved to be a big hit and sold units like crazy. There were even Pokemon Snap photobooths set up in malls and Blockbusters where you could print out the shots you took of your favorite pokemon.

One spin-off that wasn’t quite as well-received, also from Nintendo but years earlier, is the Super Nintendo game Mario is Missing. In this Super Mario spinoff, much like the title suggests, Mario is missing. You must play as Luigi who, unfortunately, does not get to do any of the fun things Mario is accustomed to. Instead of skillfully racing your way through well-designed levels, picking up powerups and defeating enemies by jumping on their heads, you must walk slowly from town to town, asking people if they’ve seen your brother, and answering history questions.

Justin Williams Laser is aware this sounds like a joke, but he assures you: this game is real, and it is absolutely terrible.

Another game that doesn’t quite live up to the greatness of its original series, Justin Williams Laser points out, is Megaman Soccer, also for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. Megaman, much like Mario, usually runs through levels from left to right, defeating enemies by shooting his arm cannon at them rather than bouncing off their skulls. Megaman Soccer, not surprisingly, replaces this gameplay with a soccer game. The problem is, Justin Williams Laser explains, it wasn’t a particularly fun, or good-looking, or interesting soccer game. After this outing, Megaman put down the soccer ball and stuck to the tried and true formula of weapons and explosions.

One final spin-off that no one realized they wanted until it was released: Halo Wars. This RTS release in the popular first-person shooter series may seem odd, but Halo Wars is interesting because, as Justin Williams Laser points out, Halo actually began its life as an RTS game. Halo Wars proves that the game could have survived as a strategy game, and it was so successful it was followed up with a sequel.

Justin Williams Laser

Justin Williams Laser Reviews Remakes

Justin Williams Laser shares his picks for the best video game remakes.

 

While some might view remaking an old game as nothing more than a lazy cash grab, in a lot of instances, this point of view couldn’t be further from the truth. Justin Williams Laser points out a lot of these remakes are made with a healthy helping of love and respect for the original, and it shows. There is something to be said for producing an updated version of a critically well-accepted game for a new, modern audience, giving those who didn’t have the chance to experience it the first time around the opportunity to play a classic.

 

It’s worth understanding, Justin Williams Laser notes, that a remake is different from a remaster. A remaster typically upgrades the graphics of an old game to higher fidelity, allowing it to take full advantage of higher resolution displays. In many cases, remasters also run smoother than the original versions. 

 

Remakes, on the other hand, are built from the ground up. Remakes generally go in one of either two directions: faithful remakes, or those that heavily alter the original’s direction, artwork, and even gameplay. Usually, Justin Williams Laser says, when a game is remade with new mechanics and reworked gameplay, it’s because the original may seem outdated or clunky to a modern audience. 

 

One example of this is the Resident Evil series. Resident Evil 2 (and soon, Resident Evil 3) has been remade entirely from scratch, with a new behind-the-shoulder camera viewpoint and a completely redone game map.  Generally praised by critics and having won several “game of the year” awards, it’s no surprise to see how Capcom is eager to release another remake of the next game in the series as soon as possible. 

 

An example of a faithful remake would be the recently released Crash Bandicoot Trilogy. Based on the original trilogy of games released across the 1990s for the original PlayStation, the new remake retains the exact level layouts and gameplay of the originals, all built on top of an updated game engine with modernized graphics and new voice acting. This has helped an entirely new generation experience what some consider to be among the greatest platformer games, standing with the likes of Mario. Justin Williams Laser explains that besides just being released again, the games’ availability has literally tripled from its original release, being available for purchase on PlayStation, Xbox, and PC this time around.

 

Spyro the Dragon got very much the same treatment as Crash Bandicoot: following the success of the Crash Bandicoot Trilogy, the Spyro trilogy was released to similar fanfare.

 

Justin Williams Laser brings up an example of how not to do a remake—Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD, while hotly anticipated, ended up being a huge flop. The game purported to update the classic for modern-day, but instead was so poorly put together that basic gameplay functions were broken due to shoddy physics, and was otherwise missing a lot of what made the originals so special. 

Justin Williams Laser

Justin Williams Laser Explores the “Metroidvania” Genre

Justin Williams Laser points out that there are some video game genres that are self-explanatory—most of them, in fact. First-person shooters are shooting games that put you behind the camera of a first-person viewpoint. Strategy games employ some sense of strategic thought. Even games with more esoteric genre names like “platformers” can be easily sussed out: you jump on platforms. In the case of the Metroidvania genre, no amount of logical thought will lead you to the correct definition unless you know the origins of the name.

If you’re at all familiar with classic video games, Justin Williams Laser explains, you might have already figured out how this genre received its name: the genre “Metroidvania” is a portmanteau of the titles of two classic video games, Metroid, and Castlevania. Justin Williams Laser points out that while the games couldn’t be more different thematically (Metroid tells the story of Samus Aran, battling space pirates on an alien world in the future, while Castlevania stays firmly planted on Earth in medieval times, and documents a vampire hunter’s battle against Dracula), the two shared common gameplay elements that at the time, weren’t so common.

One of the first of the genre is commonly considered to be the first Metroid game. In this game, released in 1986 for the Nintendo Entertainment System, you are dropped in the middle of an enormous game map, with little to no powers of your own. The map, while open-ended and encouraging exploration, still guides the player along a “main” path, leading to new areas. In these new areas, you obtain new powers that allow you to traverse new paths and unlock new areas. Justin Williams Laser explains that this is one of the core concepts of a Metroidvania game; a game must follow these tenets to be considered part of the genre.

Justin Williams Laser clarifies that at this point in time, the term “Metroidvania” had still not been coined, as the Castlevania games being released at the same time as the original Metroid were still being made in the vein of classic platformers, where the gameplay is separated by levels, and the player generally only moved from left to right in order to progress through the game.

While the style of game Metroid introduced began gaining popularity (Justin Williams Laser points out Super Metroid, the sequel released in 1994 as an example), it wasn’t until Castlevania: Symphony of the Night was released in 1997 for the PlayStation that the genre truly began taking off. It was sometime soon after this time period that the term “Metroidvania” was coined, although as Justin Williams Laser points out, no one is completely sure who originally invented the term.

Today, you can find a veritable ton of Metroidvania games of varying quality. Justin Williams Laser lists Dead Cells, Cave Story, Blasphemous, and Axiom Verge as some modern-day choices, just to name a few. One to definitely check out is Bloodstained, released in 2019 and created by Koji Igarashi, the man credited with establishing the defining features of the genre with 1997s Castlevania: Symphony of the Night.

Justin Williams Laser

Justin Williams Laser: Biggest Gaming Disappointments of 2019

Justin Williams Laser shares some of the biggest flops of 2019.

 

2019 has come and gone, and much like the current decade coming to a close, our hope for these once hyped projects has waned significantly. The world of video games is no stranger to over-exaggerated promises and enormous let-downs (Justin Williams Laser gives the Virtual Boy, Silent Hills, and basically every Peter Molyneux game as examples), and this year proved to not break this longstanding tradition.

Justin Williams Laser first points to Anthem, the EA/BioWare venture that released on February 22nd. The game entered production shortly after Mass Effect 3 released, and was first teased all the way back in 2012. The game, which initially began as “a more realistic iron man” whose core concept revolved around surviving on a hostile planet, went through a plethora of iterations until its eventual release this year.

Anthem’s development was heavily troubled—in fact, it wasn’t even known as Anthem until late 2017 (it was known as Beyond until this point, but the copyright proved too difficult to obtain). Justin Williams Laser points to an article by Kotaku entitled “How BioWare’s Anthem Went Wrong” that details the troubled development, with quotes directly from the team who worked on it. At the end of the day, after years in development and numerous attempts after launch to correct some glaring problems, Anthem seems to have been abandoned by both its initial fanbase and its development team.

There’s another obvious, huge flop of 2019 in Justin Williams Laser’s opinion: Fallout 76. The latest followup to the legendary Fallout series has been an enormous disappointment to fans for a variety of reasons. The Fallout series is classically known for its intricate plot and writing, with dialogue choices and character growth being core tenants of the single-player series. Fallout 76 forgets about all that and thrusts players into a multiplayer game world rife with bugs and micro-transactions. The game’s reputation was hurt even more when they recently introduced a “premium” membership model, that, due to a glitch, actually deleted players’ hard-earned in-game items and currency. It’s safe to say that the next game in the series will most likely be a return to form after the immense public outcry against this entry.

Finally, what may be Justin Williams Laser’s biggest disappointment of 2019 is the Google Stadia. It may be too early to claim it as a “flop”, but current public opinion on the new gaming system from Google does not bode well for its future.

The Stadia based its philosophy on “gaming for everyone”. What this means in practice, Justin Williams Laser explains, is that every game is streamed from Google’s servers. This theoretically eliminates the need for high-end computers or state-of-the-art consoles to play the newest games as the highest graphic settings. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work quite as promised: even with internet speeds meeting or exceeding the requirements listed, players are still finding blurry graphics and input lag. Justin Williams Laser explains that while streaming is working extremely well for video services like Netflix, streaming technology just isn’t good enough yet for reliable gaming services.

Some are also upset with the business model Stadia introduces: you have to subscribe to the Stadia service, then buy games at full price—if you stop your subscription, you are no longer able to play the games you’ve purchased.

While 2019 did hold some disappointments, it also gave us some truly amazing gifts. Justin Williams Laser is looking forward to 2020 to see which promises are upheld, and which become Anthems.

Justin Williams Laser

Justin Williams Laser Lists the Best Games of the Decade

Another decade is coming to a close, and as we enter the 2020s, Justin Williams Laser wants to take a step back and review some of his favorite games of the previous decade. The ‘10s were a crazy time to be a fan of video games, with gaming becoming more of a mainstream hobby than ever before, multiple huge releases, and a wide array of exciting new ways to play.

Justin Williams Laser begins by remembering Portal 2, which released in 2011. Portal 2 was an incredible first-person puzzle game where the player character is able to shoot portals at walls in order to traverse levels. With an amazing, genuinely well-written humorous script, genius level design, and graphics that were so good they still hold up today, Portal 2 is sure to be on most, if not all, game-of-the-decade lists.

Justin Williams Laser touches on another instant classic from 2011 (a great year for games!), The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is enough game to keep someone busy years—a decade, in fact, as there is a large portion of people still playing this game today. Boasting a huge open world with tons of content to explore and a cornucopia of skills and armor to customize your character with, it seems easy to play and re-play Skyrim until the end of time (or at least until the next Elder Scrolls game releases). The developers seem to have picked up on this fact as well, re-releasing the game multiple times as the decade marched on for newer systems, including the Nintendo Switch and VR headsets.

Another heavy-hitter from 2011, Minecraft made its mark on the gaming landscape with its simple, sandbox-style gameplay. Akin to playing with LEGO, the fun of the game comes from the ability to build whatever you want, however you want. The game has been released on countless platforms, including phones and even Apple TV. While Justin Williams Laser personally has never played the game, it’s hard to deny its impact on the landscape.

Justin Williams Laser admits his next choice is a bit out of the ordinary but justifies it well: Pokemon Go, which released exclusively for phones in 2016, made a huge cultural impact. In the weeks after its initial release, you could see groups of people walking down the street trying to “catch” pokemon, and there were numerous news reports detailing massive gatherings of people for the sole purpose of playing the game. One famous report shows hundreds of people gathering in New York City’s Central Park for a shot at catching a legendary pokemon.

Although there are no doubt countless other games that are worthy enough to be on this list, Justin Williams Laser makes his final choice: Rocket League. Released in 2015, Rocket League pits two teams of cars against each other. This isn’t a race, however: the game follows the standard rules of soccer, albeit with a giant ball and flying cars. The game is simple to learn how to play, but the skill ceiling is incredibly high. There is always a sense of progress as you play and get a little better every time, whether you’re learning new mobility tricks with your car, or simply improving your teamwork with your teammates.

All in all, the 2010s saw a plethora of amazing releases, and the 2020s should prove to be another exciting decade for revolutionary—and most importantly, fun—experiences.

Justin Williams Laser Shares His Favorite Rogue-like Games

Rogue-likes have been around since at least 1980, the year the original game the genre is named after, Rogue, was released. The genre has recently seen a renaissance, with an explosion of games identifying as rogue-like (despite many of them not quite meeting the criteria in the purest sense—these games which utilize some elements of classic rogue-likes while infusing them with more modern gameplay styles are colloquially known as “roguelites”).

So, what makes a rogue-like a rogue-like? Justin Williams Laser explains the most important features:

1) Random level generation. One of the most important parts of a rogue-like is experiencing a different map every time you play, making each play session unique.

2) Permanent character death. Justin Williams Laser points out that this ties in neatly with the number one feature of random level generation: every time you lose, you must start over from the beginning.

These two features are what most modern-day games are referring to when they brand themselves as a rogue-like or roguelite. However, there are many features that for decades were considered essential to the rogue-like experience.

3) Tile-based map/dungeon. Traditionally, Justin Williams Laser explains, a rogue-like’s map is tile-based, similar to a game board. This allows for easier generation of levels by the game’s algorithm, and also for simpler implementation of depth of the game’s logic systems. Justin Williams Laser gives the example of “water” tiles slowing down player characters and conducting electricity, or “fire” tiles burning cloth items.

4) Resource management. Typically, Justin Williams Laser says, rogue-likes forced you to make use of an inventory system, wherein you must carefully decide which items to bring along with your character, and which to ditch or use on the spot. Typically, these inventory systems are either grid-based (fitting as many items as you can in your “bag” by rearranging them) or weight-based (each item is assigned a weight, and your character’s stats determine how much you can hold).

If you’re looking for a modern take on the classic roguelike genre, Justin Williams Laser recommends Dungeons of Dredmor. The art style is cartoony and hand-drawn, compared to the original Rogue’s ASCII characters used for graphics, but it retains many classic elements, including the tile-based movement and combat system and inventory management that are typical of the genre.

As Justin Williams Laser had stated earlier, there is an increasing amount of rogue-like elements in modern games. These “roguelites” are experiencing massive success in the industry, perhaps, Justin Williams Laser postulates, because of the ability to fully “complete” a run-through of the game in one sitting.

Slay the Spire is one such example: it’s a deckbuilding card game where the goal is to battle AI enemies as you ascend three “floors”, however, every time you play, you start from scratch at the very beginning, and the encounters are randomized.

Another example Justin Williams Laser gives us is Crypt of the Necrodancer, which at a glance on its surface looks like a classic rogue-like. You make your way through randomized levels of a dungeon, collecting items for your inventory and power-ups along the way. The twist is this is a rhythm game, and you must make every action in time with the catchy tunes that are constantly playing over your quest.

If the current trend is any indication, there are going to be a lot more roguelite and rogue-like games releasing in the near future, and Justin Williams Laser can’t wait to see what the future has in store for the genre.

Justin Williams Laser: Survival Horror Aficionado

Justin Williams Laser gives a brief overview of the survival horror genre.

The horror genre takes on a much different tone in video games than it does at the movies, Justin Williams Laser points out. While those not totally desensitized to the scares such films can provide can simply cover their eyes and wait it out until the scene is over, while playing a game, you’re required to pay close attention to what’s transpiring on screen, lest you be forced to replay it over again. There’s a reason the “survival” prefix is usually attached to horror games: such games are generally based around resource management and running away when you need to, even in games where you receive weapons as an option for dealing with terrors. 

The first such example of the genre, Justin Williams Laser tells us, can be traced to 1989’s Sweet Home, named after the Japanese film of the same name, and released for the Nintendo Entertainment System. The game, like the movie, revolves around a group of people who enter a haunted mansion and slowly learn the horrifying truth behind its past. The game was unique for its time by offering the ability to learn the background of the story through found items such as diaries and notebooks, the ability to play as multiple characters who help each other out with their own strengths and weaknesses (and who, if killed, will remain dead for the rest of the game), and an emphasis on puzzle-solving and survival over action.

These would all become staples of the genre, leading many to point to Sweet Home as the father of the genre. Sweet Home directly influenced the first Resident Evil title, to the point where Resident Evil initially started as a remake/sequel to the original. While Resident Evil eventually became its own unique entity, it also drew heavy inspiration from another classic: Alone in the Dark.

Alone in the Dark, released in 1993, placed players in the attic of a house filled with grotesque creatures, and tasked them with solving puzzles in order to escape. The fixed camera angles and play style of Alone in the Dark, Justin Williams Laser suspects, was an enormous influence on Resident Evil.

Resident Evil began what most consider to be the golden age of survival horror, with many copycats being released of varying quality, there are a few notable standouts. Justin Williams Laser points to the Silent Hill series: while similar in structure and gameplay to Resident Evil and other survival horror classics, Silent Hill was unique in that instead of relying solely on monsters and other horrors for jump scares, Silent Hill took a more psychological horror approach to the genre. The combination of incredible art design and a more “mature” story-telling angle made Silent Hill a broad critical success, spawning numerous sequels and movie adaptations. Silent Hill 2 is regarded by many as one of the best video games ever created, even outside of the genre of survival horror. 

The genre has recently been revitalized with a new trend of first-person survival horror games with updated quality-of-life improvements for modern audiences, including Resident Evil 7, Outlast 1 & 2, and Blair Witch.

Justin Williams Laser Compares Gaming Subscription Services

Times have changed, and the way we enjoy games have changed along with them. Long gone are the days where we would save up our money for one game that would last us months on end, our undivided attention set on perfecting it as much as possible before making the next purchase. Whereas we once would spend days on end researching, weighing our options, and ultimately choosing which game we’d like to commit to playing, we now have a multitude of games available to us at any given time. Akin to the advent of Netflix or Hulu, gaming subscription services have fundamentally changed the way we’re able to enjoy the games we play. 

Now, the important decision becomes: which subscription services should I give my hard-earned cash on a monthly basis? Justin Williams Laser has broken down the pros and cons of some of the most popular services so you can make the best possible decision. 

Xbox Game Pass

Justin Williams Laser tells us the Xbox Game Pass includes an impressive library consisting of hundreds of games from the Xbox One, Xbox 360, and even a few original Xbox games. All the games must be downloaded to your hard drive before you can begin playing, but thanks to the Xbox One’s “early start” feature, some games will allow you to begin playing while the rest of it continues to download. 

The game selection is incredibly good, with some AAA titles such as Gear of War 5 being available on the service the same day it is released – something unprecedented until now. Out of all the streaming services, in Justin Williams Laser’s opinion, the Xbox Game Pass is a strong contender for best game selection.

Xbox Game Pass has one unique aspect compared to other streaming services: for an extra monthly fee, you can upgrade to Game Pass Ultimate, which grants you access to Game Pass on your PC. If you have a computer capable of playing most modern games, this is definitely worth it. Justin Williams Laser informs us that although there is a lot of overlap when it comes to games available, the PC Game Pass also includes many exclusive games, including some not found on Xbox in the first place. 

PlayStation Now

At a glance, the PlayStation Now service is very similar to Xbox Game Pass. Justin Williams Laser explains, “The PlayStation Now platform is basically Sony’s answer to Microsoft’s Game Pass. It’s got some of the same games, plus a bunch of PlayStation exclusives. The main difference,” he continues, “is that PlayStation now offers players the ability to stream the games instead of having to download them.”

While this may seem like a huge step up, Justin Williams Laser warns: while video streaming seems to have hit its stride, streaming games is still pretty rough. Even with a fantastic internet connection, you’re going to be experiencing loss of visual fidelity and input lag.

EA/Origin Access

EA Access (available on Xbox One and PlayStation 4), or Origin Access if you’re playing on a computer, may seem superfluous at first glance. But, according to Justin Williams Laser, it might be a great choice depending on what you’re looking for. 

Unlike the other streaming services, which offer a wealth of games from varying publishers, EA’s service only offers games published by themselves. While this may seem like a step down from your other options, Justin Williams Laser tells us there’s no shortage of fantastic games on the service. However, users should be aware that the library is much smaller on PS4 than on Xbox—a result of Sony’s hesitance to cannibalize its own sales. The PC version, Origin Access, has by far the largest library, with an impressive 243 games to choose from.

Justin Williams Laser Speaks Out Against Developer “Crunch Time”

It’s an all-too-common scenario in the world of video game development: for months on end, developers will put in massive amounts of hours, culminating in the last few months before release-or, the “crunch”-wherein it’s not an uncommon sight to find a weary developer sleeping in their office for the third night in a row. This isn’t a problem that plagues only smaller developers, Justin Williams Laser tells us, in fact, it’s mostly well-known developers of AAA titles that have made the concept of crunch time so prolific.

The Proliferation of Crunch Time

“Crunch time is a concept that has taken root in the culture of game development,” Justin Williams Laser tells us, “that seems to not be going anywhere, despite the recent public outcry surrounding it.” Indeed, as Justin Williams Laser attests, crunch time is receiving more public attention than in previous years: there have been multiple exposés surrounding high-profile game companies, such as Rockstar, developer of the popular Grand Theft Auto series of video games.

The article, posted by Kotaku in 2018, describes the “crunch” culture of Rockstar, including mandatory overtime and up to 80 hour work weeks during peak crunch. It wasn’t always this way: as described in the article, mandatory overtime wasn’t instated until 2017, and the length of the workweeks is usually directly proportional to how close to launch the game is. “This is the dangerous aspect behind the concept of crunch culture”, Justin Williams Laser explains, “it seems justified at the time, but once a company sees that it can squeeze more out of its employees, a lot of times it’s hard for them to go back.”

How We Can Stop Crunch Time

Of course, Rockstar isn’t the only company accused of taking advantage of crunch. The problem is industry-wide, with big names such as EA, Epic Games, and even Nintendo being called out on harsh working conditions. These sorts of accusations are nothing new, Justin Williams Laser points out: as far back as 2011, you can find articles detailing video game crunch time and postulating how companies can treat their employees better while retaining the quality of their product.

However, with the recent wave of companies being called out on their working conditions, it seems development teams are taking note. More games are being delayed by developers for the benefit of the mental and physical health of their employees, and it seems as though the public is more than understanding. Justin Williams Laser points out one specific recent instance of Nintendo delaying the release of a new game in the Animal Crossing series in order to preserve their employee’s work/life balance and avoid crunch time.

In Justin Williams Laser’s opinion, this is a step in the right direction, but the industry still has a long way to go. Historically, development teams have been notoriously un-unionized. A recent poll of game developers, published in January 2019, revealed more than half of them were in favor of unionization. Unionizing would undoubtedly help combat poor working conditions, but at the end of the day, says Justin Williams Laser, it’s up to the management of these high-profile companies to ensure the health and well-being of their employees.