Brian Taylor on Joe Magarac

Since the ’30s, plenty of folklorists have suggested [Joe] Magarac was totally made up by Francis. But whether Francis or other steelworkers made up Magarac, whether he was initially intended to be empowering or amusing or critical of the industry isn’t really relevant. Despite his size and strength, the man is nonthreatening to both industry and your daughters.

He literally kills himself for the good of the company.

You don’t have to squint very hard to see a cautionary tale here: an ironic criticism of the exploitation of a worker’s goodwill, their enthusiasm for their work. That version of Magarac could be useful to some workers in the games industry right now. While the immediate threat of long-term bodily harm has been taken out of the equation (at least for the majority of game developers; Nina Huntemann and Darius Kazemi’s The Three Least Powerful Women in Gaming succinctly and surgically criticizes the way the game and tech industries exploits young women’s bodies), stories of crunch time abound.

“Crunch” is the polite-company term for when a team has to work overtime to meet a project deadline. Giving it its own name might suggest it’s not a normal state of affairs, but in a quality of life survey conducted by Game Developer magazine earlier this year almost 70% of respondents said they work over 50 hours a week during crunch time, and over 70% reported crunch times that last for over a month. 50% of respondents reported a “somewhat negative impact” and another 28% a “very negative impact” on their family and social life because of it.

– Brian Taylor, “Crunch Time

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