Developing a Reliable and Economical Web Portal for Meals on Wheels; Problematic Work Practices and Cultures in the Game Industry

Santana, Joshua, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Seabrook, Bryn, EN-Engineering and Society, University of Virginia
Ibrahim, Ahmed, EN-Comp Science Dept, University of Virginia

The motivation for examining the game industry’s work culture was to better understand the reasons why many developers are burning out and what can be done to change the problematic social constructions surrounding it. Inversely, Meals on Wheels is an example of an organization with very positive social constructions but an inefficient workflow that our team aimed to improve. In both cases, good people are being hindered by their work environments but in different ways.
The goal of the capstone project was to improve the volunteer portal of the Meals on Wheels branch of Charlottesville. Through this portal, volunteers are able to manage the routes, customers, and other volunteers necessary to running their operation successfully. In the past, these tasks were done manually until a previous capstone team created the web interface they use today. Other capstone teams have updated it, but now the portal has become very slow and the volunteers are lacking features needed to be more productive. Our team was brought in to eliminate the inefficiencies of the current system and add or rework features to better fit their needs today.
The STS research focuses on identifying the issues found within the video game industry’s workplace cultures. Across most studios, there are common themes of overworking employees, gender discrimination, and exploitative corporate policies that contribute to a toxic work environment and developer burnout. In response, developers and external labor organizations are putting pressure on the industry to unionize and exposing the ways in which many workers are being mistreated. This research will answer the question, in what ways is the game development work environment problematic and what about the game industry or gaming culture creates these problems?

BS (Bachelor of Science)
Game Industry, Meals on Wheels, Web Portal, Developer Crunch, Social Construction of Technology

School of Engineering and Applied Science
Bachelor of Science in Computer Science
Technical Advisor: Ahmed Ibrahim
STS Advisor: Bryn Seabrook
Technical Team Members: Michael Benos, Alexander Hicks, Kyle Leisure, Kevin Naddoni, Maxwell Patek, Nathanael Strawser

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