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EA: The Human Story [Nov. 10th, 2004|12:01 am]
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My significant other works for Electronic Arts, and I'm what you might call a disgruntled spouse.

EA's bright and shiny new corporate trademark is "Challenge Everything." Where this applies is not exactly clear. Churning out one licensed football game after another doesn't sound like challenging much of anything to me; it sounds like a money farm. To any EA executive that happens to read this, I have a good challenge for you: how about safe and sane labor practices for the people on whose backs you walk for your millions?

I am retaining some anonymity here because I have no illusions about what the consequences would be for my family if I was explicit. However, I also feel no impetus to shy away from sharing our story, because I know that it is too common to stick out among those of the thousands of engineers, artists, and designers that EA employs.

Our adventures with Electronic Arts began less than a year ago. The small game studio that my partner worked for collapsed as a result of foul play on the part of a big publisher -- another common story. Electronic Arts offered a job, the salary was right and the benefits were good, so my SO took it. I remember that they asked him in one of the interviews: "how do you feel about working long hours?" It's just a part of the game industry -- few studios can avoid a crunch as deadlines loom, so we thought nothing of it. When asked for specifics about what "working long hours" meant, the interviewers coughed and glossed on to the next question; now we know why.

Within weeks production had accelerated into a 'mild' crunch: eight hours six days a week. Not bad. Months remained until any real crunch would start, and the team was told that this "pre-crunch" was to prevent a big crunch toward the end; at this point any other need for a crunch seemed unlikely, as the project was dead on schedule. I don't know how many of the developers bought EA's explanation for the extended hours; we were new and naive so we did. The producers even set a deadline; they gave a specific date for the end of the crunch, which was still months away from the title's shipping date, so it seemed safe. That date came and went. And went, and went. When the next news came it was not about a reprieve; it was another acceleration: twelve hours six days a week, 9am to 10pm.

Weeks passed. Again the producers had given a termination date on this crunch that again they failed. Throughout this period the project remained on schedule. The long hours started to take its toll on the team; people grew irritable and some started to get ill. People dropped out in droves for a couple of days at a time, but then the team seemed to reach equilibrium again and they plowed ahead. The managers stopped even talking about a day when the hours would go back to normal.

Now, it seems, is the "real" crunch, the one that the producers of this title so wisely prepared their team for by running them into the ground ahead of time. The current mandatory hours are 9am to 10pm -- seven days a week -- with the occasional Saturday evening off for good behavior (at 6:30pm). This averages out to an eighty-five hour work week. Complaints that these once more extended hours combined with the team's existing fatigue would result in a greater number of mistakes made and an even greater amount of wasted energy were ignored.

The stress is taking its toll. After a certain number of hours spent working the eyes start to lose focus; after a certain number of weeks with only one day off fatigue starts to accrue and accumulate exponentially. There is a reason why there are two days in a weekend -- bad things happen to one's physical, emotional, and mental health if these days are cut short. The team is rapidly beginning to introduce as many flaws as they are removing.

And the kicker: for the honor of this treatment EA salaried employees receive a) no overtime; b) no compensation time! ('comp' time is the equalization of time off for overtime -- any hours spent during a crunch accrue into days off after the product has shipped); c) no additional sick or vacation leave. The time just goes away. Additionally, EA recently announced that, although in the past they have offered essentially a type of comp time in the form of a few weeks off at the end of a project, they no longer wish to do this, and employees shouldn't expect it. Further, since the production of various games is scattered, there was a concern on the part of the employees that developers would leave one crunch only to join another. EA's response was that they would attempt to minimize this, but would make no guarantees. This is unthinkable; they are pushing the team to individual physical health limits, and literally giving them nothing for it. Comp time is a staple in this industry, but EA as a corporation wishes to "minimize" this reprieve. One would think that the proper way to minimize comp time is to avoid crunch, but this brutal crunch has been on for months, and nary a whisper about any compensation leave, nor indeed of any end of this treatment.

This crunch also differs from crunch time in a smaller studio in that it was not an emergency effort to save a project from failure. Every step of the way, the project remained on schedule. Crunching neither accelerated this nor slowed it down; its effect on the actual product was not measurable. The extended hours were deliberate and planned; the management knew what they were doing as they did it. The love of my life comes home late at night complaining of a headache that will not go away and a chronically upset stomach, and my happy supportive smile is running out.

No one works in the game industry unless they love what they do. No one on that team is interested in producing an inferior product. My heart bleeds for this team precisely BECAUSE they are brilliant, talented individuals out to create something great. They are and were more than willing to work hard for the success of the title. But that good will has only been met with abuse. Amazingly, Electronic Arts was listed #91 on Fortune magazine's "100 Best Companies to Work For" in 2003.

EA's attitude toward this -- which is actually a part of company policy, it now appears -- has been (in an anonymous quotation that I've heard repeated by multiple managers), "If they don't like it, they can work someplace else." Put up or shut up and leave: this is the core of EA's Human Resources policy. The concept of ethics or compassion or even intelligence with regard to getting the most out of one's workforce never enters the equation: if they don't want to sacrifice their lives and their health and their talent so that a multibillion dollar corporation can continue its Godzilla-stomp through the game industry, they can work someplace else.

But can they?

The EA Mambo, paired with other giants such as Vivendi, Sony, and Microsoft, is rapidly either crushing or absorbing the vast majority of the business in game development. A few standalone studios that made their fortunes in previous eras -- Blizzard, Bioware, and Id come to mind -- manage to still survive, but 2004 saw the collapse of dozens of small game studios, no longer able to acquire contracts in the face of rapid and massive consolidation of game publishing companies. This is an epidemic hardly unfamiliar to anyone working in the industry. Though, of course, it is always the option of talent to go outside the industry, perhaps venturing into the booming commercial software development arena. (Read my tired attempt at sarcasm.)

To put some of this in perspective, I myself consider some figures. If EA truly believes that it needs to push its employees this hard -- I actually believe that they don't, and that it is a skewed operations perspective alone that results in the severity of their crunching, coupled with a certain expected amount of the inefficiency involved in running an enterprise as large as theirs -- the solution therefore should be to hire more engineers, or artists, or designers, as the case may be. Never should it be an option to punish one's workforce with ninety hour weeks; in any other industry the company in question would find itself sued out of business so fast its stock wouldn't even have time to tank. In its first weekend, Madden 2005 grossed $65 million. EA's annual revenue is approximately $2.5 billion. This company is not strapped for cash; their labor practices are inexcusable.

The interesting thing about this is an assumption that most of the employees seem to be operating under. Whenever the subject of hours come up, inevitably, it seems, someone mentions 'exemption'. They refer to a California law that supposedly exempts businesses from having to pay overtime to certain 'specialty' employees, including software programmers. This is Senate Bill 88. However, Senate Bill 88 specifically does not apply to the entertainment industry -- television, motion picture, and theater industries are specifically mentioned. Further, even in software, there is a pay minimum on the exemption: those exempt must be paid at least $90,000 annually. I can assure you that the majority of EA employees are in fact not in this pay bracket; ergo, these practices are not only unethical, they are illegal.

I look at our situation and I ask 'us': why do you stay? And the answer is that in all likelihood we won't; and in all likelihood if we had known that this would be the result of working for EA, we would have stayed far away in the first place. But all along the way there were deceptions, there were promises, there were assurances -- there was a big fancy office building with an expensive fish tank -- all of which in the end look like an elaborate scheme to keep a crop of employees on the project just long enough to get it shipped. And then if they need to, they hire in a new batch, fresh and ready to hear more promises that will not be kept; EA's turnover rate in engineering is approximately 50%. This is how EA works. So now we know, now we can move on, right? That seems to be what happens to everyone else. But it's not enough. Because in the end, regardless of what happens with our particular situation, this kind of "business" isn't right, and people need to know about it, which is why I write this today.

If I could get EA CEO Larry Probst on the phone, there are a few things I would ask him. "What's your salary?" would be merely a point of curiosity. The main thing I want to know is, Larry: you do realize what you're doing to your people, right? And you do realize that they ARE people, with physical limits, emotional lives, and families, right? Voices and talents and senses of humor and all that? That when you keep our husbands and wives and children in the office for ninety hours a week, sending them home exhausted and numb and frustrated with their lives, it's not just them you're hurting, but everyone around them, everyone who loves them? When you make your profit calculations and your cost analyses, you know that a great measure of that cost is being paid in raw human dignity, right?

Right?


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From: (Anonymous)
2004-11-12 10:31 am (UTC)

Similar experiences

(Link)


Well I've had similar (but not as severe) experiences within the games industry. Getting told if you put the time in and save the company by getting their product to market on time that you'll be rewarded - then they screw you over.

Given my political beliefs I never thought I'd end up saying this but...
I think we need to form a union.
From: unionjosh
2004-12-20 11:48 pm (UTC)

Re: Similar experiences

(Link)

Which company did you work for? I am a union organizer for IATSE Local 16. We represent cg workers at ILM. I you think that I could be of some assistance, please contact me at unionjosh@hotmail.com or unionjosh@local16.org
Josh Pasteich
From: (Anonymous)
2004-11-12 10:31 am (UTC)

:(

(Link)

I joined EA this year as a new hire. It's been my dream to be a game developer. After going through an insane crunch, and being tossed onto another project that has an insane shipping schedule that can be met only if the whole team works on crunch, I'm beginning to feel I'm trapped in a nightmare.
From: ea_spouse
2004-11-12 07:02 pm (UTC)

Re: :(

(Link)

You are not trapped. Work on getting out, please. Do it before you really convince yourself that you're trapped. No one ever is. You can leave, and you can do it right now. If you shipped a title, you are worlds ahead of other people trying to make it in the industry. Also, get in contact with the lawyers -- it is very likely that EA owes you for what they put you through:

http://www.livejournal.com/users/ea_spouse/274.html?thread=197138#t197138
Re: :( - (Anonymous) Expand
From: purikov
2004-11-12 10:37 am (UTC)

(Link)

Don't you have some sort of law in your company describing working hours, overtime payment and so on?

AFAIK, it's illegal to make people work more than 8 hours 5 day per week for free. And you can easily sue yor company.
From: (Anonymous)
2004-11-12 10:41 am (UTC)

human "resources"

(Link)

reading this makes me truly sad.

i was under the impression that companies have now started to see their employees as resources that need to be treated well, and that it also makes more sense for a company to have a good team of dedicated workers than just get new people every few months and then dispose of them or let them leave.

there are companies all around europe that spend an enormous amount of money to improve their offices, to make workspaces fun to be at and almost recreational.
one firm i heard about has a kind of "meditation" center, where employees can retreat to and listen to ocean waves and smell incents (spelling?) and just take a few minutes off.

while we can't all expect this to happen in our jobs, we do need to be appreciated.
unpaid overtime is not uncommon, but usually there are ways in which you can have some time off and regenerate after crunch-time. hope you get EA to change it's ways !
From: (Anonymous)
2004-11-12 10:45 am (UTC)

As stated in many replies

(Link)

Hi,

It is 'normal' to work a lot when you are active in the game industry, but there are borders!

I'm a rather young man (25 yo) and since 1.5 years I'm active as a game programmer with a small german developer. I used to dream about working for a company like EA. Good pay, benefits, insurance etc. as stated in your blog, a fortune top 100 company, that offers endless career and creative possibilities. They are everywhere so you can develop a RTS followed by a football simulation etc. I like to change styles, go figure. Anyways, I also do a lot of hours. I collect massive amounts of overtime due to the fact that we are understaffed. My pay isn't all that, but at least I can use the overtime to go on vacation (payed). My financial situation might not be all that, but the human factor is a lot higher then stated in this blog.

I hope your situation will change and I hope that in some areas mine will change as well. An intermediate situation would be ideal.

I don't have any problems with working a lot. I actually like to work. I have worked 60 hours a week on average since I started here. Thinking about doing 90 a week make my head dizzy. I just can't imagine doing so many. I do know how it is to work 14 straight hours, just because 'It has to be done'. Everyone who is a dev knows this classic. I posted a link to this article on my personal blog site if anyone wants to contact me, you can write to sl33py@hotmail.com
From: (Anonymous)
2004-11-12 11:20 am (UTC)

Re: As stated in many replies

(Link)

I forgot to mention where I got the link to this article:
I got the link of our internal mailing list, a collegue of mine found it on www.usf.de (http://www.usf.de) (german dev forum). I can safely say that most german developers read these forums on a regular basis. I am going to forward the article for sure!
From: (Anonymous)
2004-11-12 10:50 am (UTC)

The whineing

(Link)

Okay, I am not gonna get to much into detail, but this is America's work history. They all want to be paid, but no one wants to work! Now, most people love to donate their life, and soul to a company even if they don't think they are getting paid what they are worth. Just so they can feel the benefit later on in life. Working for a company, and putting up with such BS, even if its long hours they will feel great once they reach where they want to be! Now, speaking of gaming industry, no I wont know it better than you EA employees, but what I wonder is why do you even work in this industry? MONEY? OR LOVE FOR GAMES? The reason I ask, is most of you take our jobs, future Game Developers, Designers, Programmers, and etc. Yet you guys whine? What for? Then because from all your whineing, and crap its harder for "US" to get into the indursty, since the now the industry proffesionals can't trust their employees, and usally everything gets messed up... because OLD FARTS and few others cried how they cant work, or cant see thier families. Either divorce, or find a new job, or just live with it. How do you think our soilder's feel? Huh! In that hot ass weather? Exactly, some complain, some do what they need to do to make our freedom secure. Whats funy, is all this bashing on GAME STUDIOS, yet you dont hear guys like from Konami, Philphony, Sony complain as much? Why? Becasue its Japan, and those individuals are dedicated to their work. Sure I know that its hard for some "WIDOWS" without their husbands, but its not like hes doing something with another woman, to tell you the truth hes working on something that hes proud off. Now, what is it that you people really want? To be paid, all the hours you work? Well if so, then my friends do something about it. Otherwise, I can't stand this COMPANY BASHING! Or speacially the industry! Seriouslly, if you dont like your jobs, there are many that will love to be where you at now. This reminds of that stupid mother/woman, who tried to blam GTA SA for the crime her nephew commited? NOW HOW THE HELL IN THE WORLD DOES A GAME MAKE A PERSON GO NUTS? He was nuts already, same thing goes for most of you here, why complain? If you dont like it MOVE THE FUCK ON, there are many that want to take your positions!
From: (Anonymous)
2004-11-12 10:56 am (UTC)

Re: The whineing

(Link)

Call back when you're 18.
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[User Picture]From: ingaborg
2004-11-12 11:05 am (UTC)

Outsourcing/profitability

(Link)

People have pointed out that if EA etc. are forced to improve their working practices, they may shut all their developed-world studios and outsource to India, Russa or wherever. This may happen, but it would be further proof of their stupity.

Improving management and working practices would make big companies more profitable, not less. Productivity would improve: skills and knowledge would be retained: game quality would rise.
From: (Anonymous)
2004-11-12 11:14 am (UTC)

Re: Outsourcing/profitability

(Link)

This plays into the myth that outsourcing to India and China is a serious bargain that threatens to take all of our jobs. That's mostly hysteria, and isn't logical. The quality of work received from those countries is usually embarassingly sub-standard, the communication is horrible and the man-hours spent just trying to figure out what the hell is going on with them is taxing and frustrating.

I think a lot of companies find that foreign outsourcing isn't much of a bargain at all in the end. Not to mention those types of workers are only really good for technical, non-creative busywork. You can tell them "hey, roto this man out of this shot" but you can't tell them "design and texture a spacecraft." You get "employees" you can't check up on, much less communicate with, and inferior work that's a real hassle to come up with.

Foreign outsourcing is part overblown myth, and part timebomb.
[User Picture]From: drunkill
2004-11-12 11:08 am (UTC)

(Link)

Fuck the EA CEO's Long live Westwood! Crap & Crud generals sucks! long live REAL C&C games!

Poor workers, shitty bosses.
From: (Anonymous)
2004-11-12 03:37 pm (UTC)

(Link)

Westwood is dead because of EA, and most of the talents from Westwood took their severance package when to door closed or have already left from EALA. EA was never interested in the people having lives in Las Vegas or making real C&C, they just cared about having the licence for themselves.
From: (Anonymous)
2004-11-12 11:16 am (UTC)

Greed is bad

(Link)

Like most arguments, there's a common ground to be achieved, I think. I work at EA, but not in the high-pressure studio environment. I really do sympathise with the folk that are suffering basically because of poor/cynical scheduling ultimately stemming from greed.

Firstly, even newbies should be aware that since the industry is very much orientated toward fixed deliverable dates, there will be times when 'crunching' needs to happen sometimes. However, schedules should be drawn up with built-in leeway to avoid crunching if at all possible. It's ultimately just greed that drives ridiculous scheduling. There has to come a point when somebody is big enough just to say 'no if they care about their staff. Schedules should not be based on the need to crunch. That's just soul-destroying and ultimately unproductive, to say nothing, at the very least of its bald cynicism.

When a crunch time comes, project managers and above need to be very understanding and supportive of the staff involved. They should not be forced into a position where they are having to lie to their own people over the hours the team will be working and for how long the crunch is projected to last. If you're open with people from the start, everyone at least knows where they stand.

On no account should crunching be a matter of course - that just says to me poor/cynical planning stemming from greed. I don't mind putting in the hours to get something done. As long as it's recognised and I'm compensated in some way. I mean, EA are nearing a turnover of 3 billlion dollars. To not look after your staff and reward them fairly just stinks. I cannot and will not accept that the aim for shareholder profit and the welfare and proper fiscal/emotional treatment of your staff (who make all that money for the shareholders) are incompatible. It's one evil person who feels so.

We all have contracts. In there it should state the kind of hours we're expected to work. Even if this is vague, and you find yourself working horrific hours on a regular basis, approach management and let them know. If nothing materialises, you have a claim for legal involvement. I say stand up for your rights. Don't be afraid of rocking the boat and don't feel you're letting the 'team' down. That's just a cynical ploy. You're doing your fellow staff a favour. Horrific hours on a regular basis is just not on, or even necessary. It just stems from corporate greed. Why should staff in this industry accept horrific hours because it's 'traditional'. Folk in the film and TV industries work very long hours too - but the unions involved are strong, it's a well-regulated industry and overtime is invoiced and paid.

Whine if you want. But whine and try and act to resolve it as you see fit - whether that means leaving, addressing the issue with management and/or getting legal involvement.
From: unionjosh
2004-11-20 12:38 am (UTC)

Re: Greed is bad

(Link)

Hi,
My name is Josh Pastreich. I am a union organizer for the IATSE that represents workers in film and TV that you referred to in your post. I am also helping with the overtime lawsuit. If there is anything you could do to help me out I would really appreciate it.
Josh
From: (Anonymous)
2004-11-12 11:18 am (UTC)

Ma Ko Vas Jebe

(Link)

Ma Ko Vas Jebe, all you people do is whine! Americans only know how to cry about spilt milk...

Since my spelling was bad, I want to know how many do you know a second language like me? No not Spanish either!

When you guys get civilized maybe Europe will talk to YOU! And when you guys make a better game than Japs speak then! Also when an American Company makes something like PS2, then you can talk!

XBOX? WTF IS THAT?


[User Picture]From: _ro
2004-11-12 11:29 am (UTC)

Re: Ma Ko Vas Jebe

(Link)

I speak English, French and German. And read Latin. ;)

And I have read every single comment in here and responded to a few.

Bad spelling doesn't put me off. Bad reasoning, bad language and the lack of being able to understand other people's views do.

Oh, and I am a European.
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From: (Anonymous)
2004-11-12 11:27 am (UTC)

(Link)

Sounds exactly like EA.

- did 3.5 years there and worked my ass off to get nowhere. Yes the OT is a part of life as a game developer (just got off 4 months of it at my current company) but at least I'm getting paid enough to live now.

My job at EA was the very bottom rung (QA tester) and although we did get paid overtime, it was required to work it to a) survive as we were making $9 - $12/hour (took me 3 years to get to $11) and b) if we didn't put in those hours, it was understood that they wouldn't renew your contract (as 90% of the QA team is contracted).

I once did about 6 months of straight overtime - 6-7 days a week, 12-14 hours a day. My worst month had me working 21 days straight without a day off.

I hear it's gotten worse now as they changed the way overtime is actually paid out making it impossible to get the premium double time hours that we used to rely on to make decent money...

Although I still work long hours now, I'm much happier in my job due to the fact that I'm making over double what i was paid at EA, and I'm actually treated with respect and considered a valuable member of the team rather than a resource that can be replaced at a moment's notice.

Tell you SO to get out of there and shop around at other dev houses. The *only* plus side from my time spent there was the contacts I made (other disgruntled ex-employees) and the fact that it looks good on the resume...
From: (Anonymous)
2004-11-20 06:37 am (UTC)

(Link)

But...a tester IS a resource that can be replaced at a moment's notice!

Seriously! And I've *been* one so I know what I'm talking about.

Get a big van, take it to the nearest mall or community college campus, and post a big sign on it that says "play games for $12/hr."

You'll be beating them off with a stick.

I know the work sucks, but come on!
From: (Anonymous)
2004-11-12 11:37 am (UTC)

Shameful

(Link)

I'm a National Guard Reservist newly returned from Iraq (missed Fallujah by a *that* much)and returning to my job in visual effects in the film industry. I'm embarassed that some knucklehead has the balls to say 'blah, blah well at least your spouse isn't on the front lines in Iraq, etc...' I love video/PC games and they're one of the best ways that myself and my buddies would unwind from weeks out in the field rather than the more unhealthy ways that usually involve alcohol. While the dilemna that ea_spouse finds herself in is not on the same level as the horrors of combat on the front lines, it sickens me that EA swindles and plays shell games with their employees and their families' lives. I quit buying EA's bloated, overlicensed and overproduced crap years ago. I suggest other people do the same. If EA wants to pretend that they're in the same league as Hollywood, they need to take a cue from them and spend their time in preproduction wisely. This shooting-from-the-hip mentality that EA developed because crunching is their cure all is the quickest way to get fleeced and left huddling in a fetal position in the back alley of Wall Street.

This is America. We can do better than this folks.
From: (Anonymous)
2004-11-12 11:42 am (UTC)

Re: Shameful

(Link)

Thank you! At least you agree. The gaming industry needs to mature up! EA needs to stop and treat employees equal, and like company asset! Becasue withouth them, they would be no one!
Welcome Home! - (Anonymous) Expand
From: (Anonymous)
2004-11-12 12:07 pm (UTC)

Are you people crazy?

(Link)

Having some experience, I can't imagine working more than 36.25 hours per week, with paid overtime if overtime truly becomes necessary, comp only if there is nothing left in the budget, and no time to get an emergency budget in before the next cycle. Of course, we have an union to combine the employees negotiating power, and so both the employer and the employees get to share our success.

Currently I'm using the overtime we had to do, due to some truly unexpected things, not mismanagement, by taking three day weekends through the end of the year as comp time, so I'm really working 28.25 hours per week, meanwhile scoring 4.5 (1-5) in my performance reviews. ;-)

It's good to live in a European country where the practises described in the article would have landed the management in a comfy jail cell.
From: (Anonymous)
2004-11-12 01:01 pm (UTC)

Re: Are you people crazy?

(Link)

I'm sorry to burst your bubble, but I collected 400 hours of overtime in a 1.5 year span. I also work in Europe (Germany) and in the games industry. 60 hour weeks are common especially around deadline weeks.
From: (Anonymous)
2004-11-12 12:29 pm (UTC)

Shacknews

(Link)

You have the GAMERS support!

http://www.shacknews.com/ja.zz?id=8965013

Unionize, do whatever you must. Just don't cave.

Most of us at Shacknew will NEVER buy another EA game!
From: ea_spouse
2004-11-12 07:14 pm (UTC)

Re: Shacknews

(Link)

Holy cow, there are more comments there than on here and Slashdot combined. I am impressed.

Thank you for your support, and I extend that thanks to all of the other gamers who have posted here. Just about every developer is a gamer at heart... we have the same love for the medium. It's a tough crowd sometimes, but that's what you get from geeks. ;)
From: (Anonymous)
2004-11-12 12:31 pm (UTC)

Number of hits

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I wonder how many hits this page has got now?
From: ea_spouse
2004-11-12 07:14 pm (UTC)

Re: Number of hits

(Link)

I knew I should have put a sitemeter on it...
From: (Anonymous)
2004-11-12 12:50 pm (UTC)

EA is......

(Link)

I myself am a gamer, not a casual one either.

What I think of EA, I assure you, is not something to be released in general public(It would probably rate a Restricted - Age 30 and above) if there was such a ruling).

EA has been releasing pathetic games, despite all their propaganda of high quality. I MUST admit, that due to months of this crunchtime put in by the programmers that the said games have "good" graphics. In content, on the other hand, it has less atoms than a m3 of vacumn in space.

I encourage you to take up the stand in standing up against EA. I can assure you that the boycotting of EA products have been going on long enough. Most products by EA are bought by causual gamers who are reeled in by the flash and pompous advertising. (Unfortunately, the said causual gamers form up a giant part of the entire gaming community)

This may seem a bit of a hijack of the comment portion. But I feel that I must add this :

EA's practices, in fact, FUEL program piracy.
They(EA) may argue that pirated CDs containing their products are crap, but, who would pay for THEIR crap in the first place?
From: (Anonymous)
2004-11-13 12:36 am (UTC)

Re: EA is......

(Link)

What do you consider NFS HP2 for PS2? Done by Black Box, which IMO was the best in the series. And how about the Underground games? Sure, I dont like CIVIC's and Neon's, but its a great game! Also, what about 007 Everything Or Nothing? You call your self a non casual gamer? Pfft... I see that you might be, becasue a Hardcore gamer plays it all, and knows it all, then it judges.
From: (Anonymous)
2004-11-12 01:02 pm (UTC)

Poop

(Link)

EA likes poop. LUE LOVES INVASIONS!
[User Picture]From: dadarkmcse
2004-11-12 01:17 pm (UTC)

You've been PPCT'ed

(Link)

Just wanted to let you know that your story has been posted on Pocket PC Thoughts, a rather large pocket pc enthusiast site, so expect to get some pretty decent exposure for your thoughts. After all, that's why I'm here.

I remember when I used to code software - nothing major - but I can't conceive of working that long without breaks. Holding a B.A. in psychology also tells me that you physically & mentally cannot work that long without taking breaks on the eyes & hands. I expect your SO probably is prone to developing some sort of medical problem from all of this work, which (while probably not the situation you'd want) would open the door to a rather interesting court case. After all, from what you've posted, it certainly seems that EA fosters what the courts would call "A hostile workplace" (especially adding what the anonymous poster had to say about 'firings' above) and what OSHA would call "An unsafe workplace".

Good luck in your struggle, I hope things improve.
From: ea_spouse
2004-11-12 07:16 pm (UTC)

Re: You've been PPCT'ed

(Link)

Thank you for your comments, and for the heads-up about the Pocket PC Thoughts post. =) For my own sake and my SO's, I am hoping that he does not develop any long term medical problems, of course. =P But there is no question that his health and his teammates' health has suffered significantly.
[User Picture]From: shasari
2004-11-12 01:19 pm (UTC)

Unfortunately that sort of attitude

(Link)

Is not just reserved for the electronic gaming sector. I worked as a contractor for a huge software firm a couple of years ago. 90 to 110 hour work weeks, sometimes even more closer to the release date were not uncommon. The comments about the headaches and stomach problems were all to familiar. To top it off, the managements approach to dealing with contractors was "You want better treatment? Well you are >just< a contractor and we can replace you" or less specifically "Hey, you're >just< a contractor, remember?". In addition there were some in the contractor group I was in who were urged not to bill the company more than 40 hours even though they were working 14 hours 7 days.

This article about EA reminds me so much about my time as a contractor. I'm sorry to hear that this attitude toward employees is that widespread.
From: (Anonymous)
2004-11-12 01:41 pm (UTC)

(Link)

Total sympathy !
And this would explain why The Lord of the Rings the Third Age is full of bugs on my PS2 !!!
From: (Anonymous)
2004-11-12 01:52 pm (UTC)

industry gone crazy

(Link)

Hello

I’m in a senior position at a smaller developer. This crazy inhuman working practices that has almost become the norm in the games industry is something that really needs addressing. As I read the letter from the “disgruntled spouse” it sounded disturbingly real to me. Some of the teams at my company have been doing 3 nights a week and at least one day in the weekends for the last year or more. Prolonged over-time like that has a real effect on people’s lives and is completely unsustainable. This is very common in an industry that is supposed to be a very highly skilled and high-tech environment. A lot of the companies demand free over-time, and I mean, “demand”.

The crazy thing is that this system is not benefiting anyone. The more hours you work, the less productive you are. This has been proven in numerous studies around the world. When they made me lead at my company I insisted that my team only do overtime when it is really really needed. The result was that they came in fresh everyday, did their work fast and with inspiration. Yes, art is not about the hours you put in but the amount of inspiration going into it. After two months we were the only team ahead of schedule in the company. We were waiting around on the other teams that were doing crazy over-time to implement our stuff for sometimes up to 3 months.

So did we get a reward for delivering our work on time…NO…I got called in and told that I do not do enough over time to be a lead on the next project. OK, doing chosen over-time is one thing, but being effectively forced into that situation for fear of loosing your job, must be illegal. Do anything about it and risk not working in the industry again?

I Like working in games and I’m good at what I do, but how can I seriously think of having a normal life with time to spend with my loved one’s in a industry that has gone out of whack. I feel really sorry for the poor people with children and the kids who never see their parent.

When this story got sent around at my company, this was the response from one of my the leads:

“Long hours in the games industry.... yawn yawn.... buy a crash helmet. Think of all those starving children in Africa and other poorer countries who have to work 18 hours a day to survive. Grow up”

Great, need I say more?
From: (Anonymous)
2004-11-12 02:10 pm (UTC)

Re: industry gone crazy

(Link)

This culture of work long hours and get paid crap is inherited from Asia.

Those managers and bosses must've seen sweatshop IT house in Asia and wants to emulate them.
From: (Anonymous)
2004-11-12 02:25 pm (UTC)

What about media?

(Link)

How's about getting some journalist investigating that stuff? Its a young industrie, which hits news usually with "Title Blabla earns more revenue than biggest holywood film ever"... And as we are in a time with political documentaries, i can't imagine that not one reporter or director would be interested in that topic. And no company should like being in news for slavery...?
From: jif_1979
2004-11-12 02:32 pm (UTC)

Re: What about media?

(Link)

you could try to reach the guy that did the 9/11 documentary (I'm really bad with names), I'm sure he'd love to be all over it :)
From: (Anonymous)
2004-11-12 03:02 pm (UTC)

EA made up of EX ACCLAIM execs

(Link)

That could explain it all right there...
From: (Anonymous)
2004-11-12 03:03 pm (UTC)

(Link)

How about a company wide work stoppage? One day where everyone who is upset calls in sick. The nurses do this, they call it the blue flu. Might let the company know just how many people are really upset.

Thank you ea spouse for exposing this.
From: unionjosh
2004-11-20 12:44 am (UTC)

(Link)

My name is Josh Pastreich. I am a union organizer and I am trying to organize EA. Please send me an email at unionjosh@local16.org
Josh
From: (Anonymous)
2004-11-12 03:06 pm (UTC)

Petition

(Link)

Hi. I have created a petition in response to your post. I hope this can help raise a little awareness for this cruel practice of EA's. Best wishes to you and your significant other.

- Pear

http://www.webpetitions.com/cgi-bin/print_petition.cgi?99498777
[User Picture]From: kingfox
2004-11-12 03:26 pm (UTC)

Not to be cynical...

(Link)

But an online petition isn't worth the paper it's... well... you get the idea.
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