- OK, hyperbolic headline alert, but even game developer and former 'EA Spouse' Erin Hoffman is aware of the irony when she wrote the 'Inside Job: Why Crunch is Awesome' column for The Escapist late last week.

As she notes in her introduction: "So as long as there is an annual cycle, and as long as there is heavy competition, not to mention shifting publisher demand, there is going to be a turbulent cocktail of events coming between game developers and the noble attempt to have a reasonable family life. But these are exterior challenges. On top of them, beneath them, around them, is a deeper problem: Crunch is addictive."

And solving problems and working long hours really is a self-feeding beast in itself: "Like adrenaline, when crunch is running full bore, it attains a certain - brief - Zen-like quality. No matter what else is going wrong with your life (and the longer you stay in a crunch-prone environment, the deeper these problems become), in the immediate moment there is only the problem needing to be solved and the willpower you can apply to it."

The complexity of crunch - and, indeed, the vicious circle of sometimes liking it - is something the IGDA Quality Of Life SIG has been (laudably) trying to deal with for some time - as has Hoffman's own Gamewatch.org site, which has some excellent discussion of the problems in messageboard form.