In a noble bid to raise awareness about the mental health of game developers and a toxic game industry practice known as “crunch”, publisher, Devolver Digital and developer, Mega Cat Studios have partnered up to produce a new SNES game.
Fork Parker’s Crunch Out has you taking the role of Devolver Digitals CFO, Fork Parker (DD’s real-life CFO, hilariously) as he works his poor employees to the bone in order to maximise profits. The official landing page sums it up best:
“Devolver Digital CFO, Fork Parker, enjoyed a life of luxury and spent his days watching the profits roll in from the lucrative indie game publishing industry. However, an upstart new publishing label threatens to take his beloved market share, forcing the handsome executive to take matters into his own hands and start ‘motivating’ his game developers by any means necessary. Meaningless elements like “artistic integrity” and “engaging gameplay” are out the window as efficiency and deadlines now dictate the studio’s every move – welcome to crunch time.”
While the game is cartoony, arcadey and seemingly on the light-hearted side of the artistic spectrum, it highlights a very real and serious issue. Read any article about commercial game development and the employees within and it won’t take long to come across the term “crunch time”. This appalling issue within the industry involves developers working extremely long and stressful hours leading up to the release of a game – usually not resulting in overtime, either.
In a bid to counteract this, 100% of the profits from the sale of this game will go to an organisation called Take This whose goal is to educate and service mental health issues within the gaming community. Crunch Out will be shipped in an authentic SNES cardboard box and will even come with a manual. Better yet, there will be two editions available.
The Standard Edition will cost $49.99US and be sold as the standard grey cartridge with the box. However, the Limited Edition cartridge is shaped like a desktop computer (and comes complete with a #1 Boss mug decal), will cost $149US and lights up using an LED display. Here’s a short video of it in action:
It should be noted that while the cartridge will technically be region free, because of the refresh rate difference between PAL and NTSC standards, the game will run quicker in PAL territories. Regardless, Mega Cat Studios and Devolver Digital are doing an honourable thing here, supporting a charity that highlights mental health issues within their own industry. I anticipate similar endeavours and hope that the bigger game companies and corporations take note.