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Regular Check-Ins Help Nightdive Studios Combat Burnout

Burnout in the gaming industry is a serious problem. Major games like Cyberpunk 2077 and The Last of Us Part II have been rocked by accusations of unethical development practices, and journalists like Jason Schreier have built careers on covering the increasing severity of industry workplace abuse.

But in this age of grinding employee bones into dust for deadlines, some developers are finding a better way to do things. Nightdive Studios is one such team – and Community Manager Karlee Wetzel plays a huge part in that.

“I readily make myself available almost any time of the day for anyone who could need me,” says Wetzel. “To me, it’s not hard to be there.Whether they need to vent about a problem in their real-world, or an issue on a project they’re working on […] It takes one second to send someone a message and see how they’re doing.”

Nightdive is an entirely distributed office, with employees posted all over the world. One of Wetzel’s responsibilities is to check in with those employees, often through Discord. Her hope is that by getting to know everyone, and by fostering meaningful friendships, developers can feel heard and cared for.

Wetzel admits that burnout still happens, buts that it’s hard to predict when an employee will burn out. “Burnout still happens. [The team] works really, really hard.” However, she’s quick to spot the signs and talk to her peer before things get worse. “Sometimes, it’s as simple as you notice somebody’s not getting as much done as they normally do. Or not contributing as much to conversations.”

When Wetzel picks up on these telltale signs, the community manager goes out of her way to make sure Nightdive employees are listened to and cared for.

“Sometimes, you just need someone to talk to,” she says. “When I did work in an office, people would say, ‘oh, I need the wooden dog or duck on my desk to talk to and work things out.’ So, I guess I just made myself that wooden duck on someone’s desk to talk at […] I find it doesn’t take much to reach out to somebody, and I think it’s something people should do more often.”

My full interview with Wetzel, along with Nightdive CEO Stephen Kick and Director of Business Development Larry Kuperman, will go live this Sunday.

Next: Nightdive’s Name Comes From CEO’s “Love Of Diving”

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Bella Blondeau is a lovable miscreant with a heart of gold… or so she says.

She likes long walks in dingy arcades, loves horror good and bad, and has a passion for anime girls of any and all varieties. Her favorite game is Nier: Automata, because she loves both robots and being sad.

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