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EA: The Human Story [Nov. 10th, 2004|12:01 am]
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?



This article is offered under the Creative Commons deed. Please feel free to redistribute/link.

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From: (Anonymous)
2004-11-16 11:43 pm (UTC)
Wow. Great read!
(Reply) (Thread)
From: (Anonymous)
2004-11-16 11:59 pm (UTC)

Can I ask the original poster an honest question?

And can you give me an honest answer?

You say you guys have to crunch from 9 AM to 10 PM, 7 days a week, 90hrs/week, etc.

Can you tell me honestly, out of those 90 hours, how many of it is spent in:

Actual coding/debugging?

Surfing the web?

Checking your stocks?

Checking your fantasy sports teams?

Reading Drudgereport?

Reading/posting on message boards, like this one?

Taking 1.5-2 hour lunch breaks?

Coffee breaks?

"Doom 3 breaks" or "Halo 2 breaks"??

A quick run to Fry's or Best Buy?

Or just sitting around, chatting and whining with other co-workers about how much you're overworked?

(Reply) (Thread)
From: ea_spouse
2004-11-17 12:18 am (UTC)

Re: Can I ask the original poster an honest question?

For my SO in particular? None. If he so much as reads slashdot during a build process he feels guilty. He works himself extremely hard. I have sat there with him and watched him work, and not for a short period of time -- he does not surf, he does not screw around. Where others are getting the impression that if you have to work these hours you're not using your time effectively I have no idea. This is true from a management point of view (there is waste and redone work and lackadaisical behavior), but the actual engineers on this team pushes EXTREMELY hard. There are people who screw around, but they get canned, quickly, and I obviously take no issue with that. They also do not 'whine' to their coworkers.

The number of assumptions folk are willing to make on behalf of my SO and his coworkers staggers me. It really, honestly does. The case for corporate abuse here is so strong that it makes me question basic humanity that anyone could argue with it. I realize that those who do so are some combination of stupid or not reading the article, but my points are fairly simple; perhaps I was just too lengthy about it.

The only 'breaks' being taken on this project for the majority of the team, that I have seen, actually stood in that office and watched them do what they do, are taken when the management requires the entire team to be there when they have no tasks assigned to them. They do this frequently. They will not release employees to go home and remain on call, and as a result you have a huge number of people toward the end of a project sitting around with nothing to do. I have watched these people. When they have nothing to do, they do MORE WORK. Until there is no more work to do. They voluntarily take on other tasks until there is literally nothing left in the queue.

Other teams might be different, but I will go to bat for this team anytime anywhere. They are by and large an excellent group of people who in no way deserve the treatment that they're getting.

I'm rather tired at the moment, but I will be putting together a FAQ with answers to common questions/comments, including this one ("your SO must not be doing his job right"). I do, however, have a collective answer for the commenters here who have either deliberately or accidentally ignored arrant answers to their concerns, and chosen to think the worst of not just EA employees as a group but my SO and his teammates in particular: RTFA, and swallow your assumptions sideways, they will greater benefit the world in that configuration. And for those foolish enough to want his job after all of this, you can apply at EA.com. Tell them I sent you.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread) (Expand)
(no subject) - (Anonymous) Expand
From: (Anonymous)
2004-11-17 12:07 am (UTC)

Can I ask the original poster an honest question?

And can you give me an honest answer?

You say you guys have to crunch from 9 AM to 10 PM, 7 days a week, 90hrs/week, etc.

Can you tell me honestly, out of those 90 hours, how many of it is spent in:

Actual coding/debugging?

Surfing the web?

Checking your stocks?

Checking your fantasy sports teams?

Reading Drudgereport?

Reading/posting on message boards, like this one?

Taking 1.5-2 hour lunch breaks?

Coffee breaks?

"Doom 3 breaks" or "Halo 2 breaks"??

A quick run to Fry's or Best Buy?

Hitting on the secretaries or cute artists?

Or just sitting around, chatting and whining with other co-workers about how much you're overworked?

(Reply) (Thread)
From: (Anonymous)
2004-11-17 12:49 am (UTC)

Non-Trolls, please read...

To all the posters who are offering serious, valid comments, encouraging words, personal stories, and constructive suggestions, I encourage you to just ignore the morons who post "stop whining" "quit and get a new job" and "you are lazy" threads.

These people are Trolls. I know it almost seems like they really beleive the nonsense the type but beleive me, all they want to do is get a rise out of you. Look, its working!

I encourage you to read this page as it eloquently explains who these people are and how to defeat them. http://members.aol.com/intwg/trolls.htm

The only way...THE ONLY WAY to get rid of them and their ridiculous blather is to ignore them.

Now, back to the matter at hand. This is the very beginning of something bigger and better. An organized effort to create more hospitibal work environments in our field. Keep it alive and dont let the trolls derail you!
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread) (Expand)
From: ravidrath
2004-11-17 12:49 am (UTC)

IGDA Responds...

I'm saddened to see the influx of trolls, but at least some people are working are responding positively.


Personally, I think that's a good letter and agree with most of the sentiments in there. Because of that, I joined the IGDA (full, paid membership and everything) and volunteered to help on the Quality of Life issue.

They have a lot of sane opinions and some reasonable clout with companies, and are working to get a Quality of Life program put into place - with this they would rate companies and give out a seal of approval of some kind that people would look for when applying to a company, which I think is a great idea.

Anyone seriously interesting in furthering game industry advocacy should join, I believe - people like the IGDA, I believe, will help us work towards solutions that don't involve unionization or future lawsuits.

(Reply) (Thread)
From: (Anonymous)
2004-11-17 02:15 am (UTC)

Re: IGDA Responds...

"...with this they would rate companies and give out a seal of approval of some kind that people would look for when applying to a company, which I think is a great idea..."

I think this is a great idea, one of the best I've heard.

My one worry with this is that it won't stay honest, that it will be driven by corporate sponsors eventually. The only reason I say this is because someone posted here a few days ago, saying he was a game developer from England who had started a small union over there, but when he tried to sponsor an IGDA meetup, IGDA turned him down and said that their other sponsors didn't like it.

Taking what this poster said at face value, and recognizing that I don't know much about the IGDA, do you think this is a danger? If IGDA meetups can be influenced by their sponsors, why not something like a Quality of Life seal of approval?
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread) (Expand)
From: (Anonymous)
2004-11-17 01:23 am (UTC)


Your writing was powerful. Personally, I hope someone high up from EA read this and took it to heart. That is CRAP what they are doing to their employees, and I even feel a bit ashamed that I recently purchased a game from them.

You probably should write in anonymously with this to the CEO.
(Reply) (Thread)
From: (Anonymous)
2004-11-17 01:38 am (UTC)

You obviously don't want a job.....

To the student that posted this message.... You are attempting occupational suicide. You should really get out there and WORK for a living. Any, if not most, of the big studios or companies will require you to work more than your 40 hours in a "crunch-time" situation. Companies are usually upfront about your benefits... If you don't like the terms then don't take the job. You are fooling yourself to think that posts like this are going to "change" anything. All you are going to do is black-list yourself and create a bad image for Ringling. The pros know how the industry is and what is expected of them... don't show your ignorance by believing this mess. You don't know how or why this letter was written... maybe the spouse wasn't willing to support their partner and was lashing out at the company... You never know... I would apologize to EA and comment that next time you will do some research and fact finding before blasting and smearing a company because of something that you read somewhere.

(Reply) (Thread)
From: (Anonymous)
2004-11-17 04:34 am (UTC)

Re: You obviously don't want a job.....

You are still in school, I guess.

"The pros know how the industry is and what is expected of them..."
That's right, and we are the pros. Have you noticed which people are criticizing this blog? Those who don't do what we do. Those not professional enough to get these jobs. I saw one guy say he would give his left nut to work at EA. BS, anyone with half that resolve would be there already if he wanted to.

I know what drives this industry, Two things. When I got into this business I thought the goal of managers and owners was to make the most money possible. Logical, right?
Very naive of me. Number one is ego, number two is money. Most people who seek a position of power get an ego boost by looking down on the "inferiors" who do the work. If you have to respect an inferior to make money, it isn't worth it. Don't believe me? Look around you again.

You are also poorly informed: most game companies are not upfront about benefits and hours - benefits are exaggerated, crunch time is supposedly "avoided except as a last resort". Right.
Your fellow student is wising up fast - good for him, he'll probably do well for himself.
You, on the other hand, sound like a sheep praising the wolves. You'll make someone rich.

(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
From: (Anonymous)
2004-11-17 02:11 am (UTC)

it's an old story

When I worked for Sony Pictures Imageworks in 1994, they had us doing the same bullshit. They brought in cots so we could get some sleep, etc. We went to the labor board and threatened to join existing unions. We mutinied en mass and Sony was forced to go to an overtime policy. Having to pay for the extra time, our schedules immeasurably improved. After we came to an agreement with them, they were negotiating salaries that expected a 10 hour work day (5 days per week) which included 2 overtime hours. They used this to their advantage when production was slow and sent people home after 8 hours and this resulted in a 28% pay cut for these days. Some people complained about that but only the people that didn't have any families or social life to speak of. If you get everyone together and in agreement that this slavery has to stop, you CAN do something about it. And it is illegal. I'm not familiar with the bill you talk about but in 1994 anyway, an exempt employee in the state of California had to have control of his/her own work hours and could not be told to report at a specific time for specific hours. This of course was not the case and therefore Sony's actions were illegal.
(Reply) (Thread)
From: (Anonymous)
2004-11-17 03:16 am (UTC)

The taint spreads...

The problem is that the managers who learn at EA go everywhere and spread their poor management skills into other companies. I work for a company who recently hired a former EA manager. He immediately started bringing in other EA managers he knew. He treats people like crap, plays favorites, creates more fires than he puts out, and bitches out people even as they're putting in long hours to put out a game.

They talk about how bad it was at EA, but they're no better. Same shit...different company.
(Reply) (Thread)
From: (Anonymous)
2004-11-17 04:33 am (UTC)

Care to Name Names?

It may take some courage, but it's the only way to bring change to video game development practices.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread) (Expand)
(Deleted comment)
From: (Anonymous)
2004-11-17 05:58 am (UTC)

Re: An Email I've Been Keeping for a Rainy Day

15 hours?? holy shit that's insane. I'm hoping that didn't include weekends. Do you still do hours like that?
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
Well... no. - (Anonymous) Expand
From: (Anonymous)
2004-11-17 04:33 am (UTC)

"Stop Whining"

Oh please just shut up....

"my husband works too hard. WAH WAH WAH..." Bottom line lady your husband has a great job in an industry that requires its employees to work more hours to compete on an international level; if he doesn't like what he is doing he can quit and leave a vacant spot for someone who realizes what a privilege it is to work on video games for a living, not hire a lawyer and try to make other people lose their jobs by suing the company. Its money grubbing people like you who make life harder for everyone else; please just shut up.
(Reply) (Thread)
From: (Anonymous)
2004-11-17 04:42 am (UTC)

i'll reply - because itz fun

WAH WAH WAH. We should quit! We need to leave a vacant spot for unqualified mother fuckers like you who are better suited to turn our burgers at Burger King than write code for award-winning video games.

ea_spouse rocks. don't let anyone tell you different. Now GRILL MY WHOPPER, YOU FUCK.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread) (Expand)
Ha - (Anonymous) Expand
Re: Hahahah! - (Anonymous) Expand
Re: Ha - (Anonymous) Expand
Re: "Stop Whining" - (Anonymous) Expand
From: (Anonymous)
2004-11-17 04:56 am (UTC)
Although I hate to believe something at face value (in this case, the person's claim that EA is pushing its employees to ridiculous extremes), I find it hard to refute the claim that EA is working it's employees too hard. In the end, then, I hope that EA realises that there are labor laws that they must follow. If they choose not to, then someone needs to do speak to them in the language they best understand: money and lawsuits.
(Reply) (Thread)
From: (Anonymous)
2004-11-17 05:06 am (UTC)

Another suggestion...

I know when people are going overseas to teach english there are a number of websites people can goto in order to gauge wether a contract/ job is worth taking. Maybe something like that needs to be set up for game programmers.

Have some sort of gauging/ FAQ forum about every company. Invite all programming companies to submit why their workplace is a good work place to work, then people can read and react to it.

It doesen't solve the problem of burnout, but it may save some families and lives.

(Reply) (Thread)
From: djranmas
2004-11-17 05:58 am (UTC)
Damn, that's some fucked up shit...
(Reply) (Thread)
From: (Anonymous)
2004-11-17 06:19 am (UTC)

2510 Posts and Counting - we are almost there!


We have all done a great job so far, and we are close to the finish line, but we cannot stop now.

In an effort to get us all on the same page as to what is crunch… here are the expectations going forward.

You must make 25 posts a day. If you have nothing to say, then you must stay here and support the others. Posting hours are from 8am - 4am. I believe in all of you, I know we can do this.

10,000 posts is our target. Thanks, I love all of you.

(Reply) (Thread)
From: jif_1979
2004-11-17 11:51 am (UTC)

Re: 2510 Posts and Counting - we are almost there!


+1 post :p :D

I guess I'd be an excellent cruncher, tough I posted outside the posting hours... depending on your timezone :)
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: jupluna
2004-11-17 06:24 am (UTC)
Actually not to sound like a total bitch or anything...EA is in their rights to work people as much as they want. I would suggest looking at the US labor laws, or any countries labor laws for that matter. The only people that have restrictions are minors. Any legal adult can be made to work as many hours, without breaks, as the company sees fit.

The company is shit...which is where their policy of put up or get out comes from. It's legal...as crappy as that is.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: rhi_chan
2004-11-17 07:06 am (UTC)
In certain states, however, they ARE required to pay overtime.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
California law - (Anonymous) Expand
Re: California law - (Anonymous) Expand
From: (Anonymous)
2004-11-17 09:32 am (UTC)

International Game Developers Association Responds

Open Letter - November 16, 2004

Quality of Life Issues are Holding Back the Game Industry

Despite the continued success of the games industry, the immaturity of
current business and production practices is severely crippling the
industry. The recent frenzy of discussion over impassioned testimony about the
horrible working conditions within much of the industry attests to the reality
of this often unspoken disease.

As the professional association that unites the game development community and
serves as its voice, the International Game Developers Association is deeply
disturbed by this vicious cycle and is working to better the situation. Improving
the quality of life of game developers is an IGDA priority.

In tackling quality of life issues, it is important to realize that poor quality
of life is symptomatic of more fundamental challenges within the industry (e.g.,
consolidation, ever-evolving technology, one-sided contracting, lack of project
management expertise, no craft/job standards, etc), which in turn all need to
be addressed in order to truly improve our work/life balance.

What's more, game developers are sometimes just as much to blame for
submitting themselves to extreme working conditions, adopting a macho
bravado in hopes of "proving" themselves worthy for the industry. Our own attitudes
towards work/life balance and production practices need to change just as much
as the attitudes of the "suits."

For those who are looking to unionization as an option, it is important to note
that the IGDA is not a union and cannot "become" one: the IGDA is incorporated
as a non-profit professional association, which has a distinct role from that
of a union. Further, as an international organization, the localized nature of
unions (i.e., often requiring state by state and country by country solutions)
is beyond our organizational scope.

It is unfortunate that it has gotten to the point of engaging in class
action lawsuits. While some industry workers choose such legal means to
gain retribution, the IGDA believes that a conciliatory approach is also an option.
(Reply) (Thread)
From: (Anonymous)
2004-11-17 09:35 am (UTC)


(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
From: (Anonymous)
2004-11-17 09:32 am (UTC)
The reality is that there are game companies that have proven that a focus on
quality of life can lead to great games, AND business success: BioWare, Firaxis,
Team17, Blue Fang, Cyberlore and Ensemble are just a few of the studios that
put as much effort on keeping their employees happy and healthy as on their bottom
line. These, and other sensible companies, realize that a strong quality of life
leads to more productive and creative workers. In turn, these workers produce
better games, and stay in the industry to share their experience with all the
passionate new recruits - helping to avoid common mistakes and recurring pitfalls.
Further, they realize that driving their people into the ground is a short-term
view that is not sustainable.

It is sadly ironic that those who strive for success at any cost don't
realize that mature and responsible human resource and production practices will
more readily bring them what they so desperately seek. That is to say, regardless
of the humane imperative, maintaining a strong quality of life is just good business.

The IGDA's white paper on quality of life best practices has already
served as a powerful tool, but it is only the first step. Via an upcoming "best
companies to work for" initiative, the IGDA will provide awareness of enlightened
companies and their practices so that others in the industry can learn from their
wisdom. Similarly, the IGDA will shine a light on the wealth of research and
knowledge being generated from outside the games industry.

To aid in these outreach efforts, the IGDA will be hosting a full-day
quality of life think-tank at the annual Game Developers Conference in
March. Also, we'll be encouraging our 80+ chapters from all over the world to
host local meetings and sessions to discuss and explore this important issue.

Further, the IGDA has two special interest groups that will help in sharing knowledge
and work on related issues: the Production SIG (working to formalize the production
process) and the Human Resources SIG (hub for HR professionals). The efforts
of these two SIGs, in addition to the ongoing work of the Quality of Life Committee,
will ensure a diverse perspective on solving quality of life problems.
(Reply) (Thread)
From: (Anonymous)
2004-11-17 09:33 am (UTC)
This is only the beginning and we're still forming plans. We encourage
everyone to get involved. We ask that you contact us (qol@igda.org) to
volunteer, provide ideas, success stories, resources and any other relevant information.
In particular, the IGDA is requesting details on active and pending lawsuits
to add to our reference list online.

We have no doubt that with everyone's help and contribution we can save
the industry and art form we are all so passionate about.

Note: This letter is also available online at http://www.igda.org/qol/open_letter.php
and can be easily forwarded,
anonymously if desired.

The IGDA Board of Directors,

Bob Bates
Jason Della Rocca
Alex Dunne
John Feil
Mitzi McGilvray
Brian Reynolds
Jesse Schell
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(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: the_egg_aka_el
2004-11-17 11:27 am (UTC)
why work for them, then? :)
(Reply) (Thread)
From: klinkekula
2004-11-17 02:07 pm (UTC)
(Reply) (Thread)
From: (Anonymous)
2004-11-17 03:18 pm (UTC)

Go ahead and kill the American gaming Industry

As someone who works in this industry I must say the hours are long, but the work is great the environment is unbeatable.

The trade offs are well worth it. There are salaried managers at Denny's who don't make overtime because they never punch a clock...

so what are we going to do open the floodgates and just allow anyone who has ever stayed late have some fat settlement?. Great way to kill an industry in which the vast majority of people really love what they do!!! And for those who don't, YOUR NOT SLAVES!! QUIT!!

Why sit back and watch Sony or Nintendo step up and fill that void with games of their own in a heartbeat, because America can no longer compete because the SALARIED employees want overtime.

You will also have the added benefit of killing any fun that people have in a game industry workplace, the mentality currently is that you can have fun because people will stay late to make up the work time. If overtime becomes a factor then you watch how long it takes for a fun easy going environment to become Nazi Germany.

Please drop your frivolous lawsuits before you actually do make EA a terrible place to work.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: luckykaa
2004-11-17 03:30 pm (UTC)

Re: Go ahead and kill the American gaming Industry

Do you genuinely believe that you can get more work out of people by making them work longer hours for months on end?

Just about anyone who has actually researched this has discovered that productivity goes down.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread) (Expand)
Fearmongering - (Anonymous) Expand
Peter... - (Anonymous) Expand
From: (Anonymous)
2004-11-17 05:11 pm (UTC)

you're not alone, but I won't cry

bon, mon gars, t'es pas tout seul à bosser dans des conditions de merde et ton histoire ne va pas me faire pleurer.
je suis interne en chirurgie traumatologie, à BAC +7
je fais 5 x 12h de travail par semaine à 1400€ net
+ 1 samedi sur 2 ( on ajoute 6 heures de travail)
+ 1 garde de 24h le week end à 90€ net (meme une femme de menage est payée plus cher, et en plus elle travaille pas la nuit!)
total: 84-90h/semaine pour 1760€ net/mois (impots non compris)
la seule compensation finaciere est le droit de manger le midi à l'hopital. et je pense que les responsabilités (sans vouloir peter plus haut que mon cul) sont d'une autre dimension.
alors oui je suis fatigué, oui ma vie sociale en prend un coup, mais faut savoir ce qu'on veut.
c'est pas EA games, le nouveau negrier des pays developpés mais bien l'hopital.
bon courage quand meme!
(Reply) (Thread)
From: bwingb
2004-11-17 05:32 pm (UTC)


[I thought I'd translate for those who don't read French:]

You are not the only one working in shit consitions, so your story is not going to make me cry.

I am an intern in traumatic surgery, I do 5 x 12 hours of work a week for 1400€ net
+ 1 Saturday on 2 (we add 6 hours of work)
+ 1 shift of 24h a week end at 90€ net (even a cleaning woman gets payed better, and she doesn't have to work night shift!)
total: 84-90h/week for 1760€ net/month (before taxes)
The only financial compensation is the right to eat lunch at the hospital cafeteria. And no offence but I think my responsibilities are of a different level. And so I am very tired, and my social life is suffering, but we have to know what we want in life.
EA games is not, the new slave driver of the developped world; it's the hospitals. But good luck just the same!
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Interns... - (Anonymous) Expand
From: digitalmite
2004-11-17 06:32 pm (UTC)


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From: (Anonymous)
2004-11-17 07:15 pm (UTC)

John Schappert's contract almost up?

John Schappert, the weasel running EAC, has his contract up for renewal this month. If enough people "sing his praises" to guys like Don Mattrick, Larry Probst, or their ilk, maybe we can get him fired. Management loves nothing quite so much as a fall guy, and this guy could use a good fall.
(Reply) (Thread)
From: (Anonymous)
2004-11-17 07:30 pm (UTC)

Re: John Schappert's contract almost up?

A weasel would not fire an other of his kind ;)
Schappert is not the root of the problem.......
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread) (Expand)
From: (Anonymous)
2004-11-17 07:37 pm (UTC)

Neil's Wee PeePee

Let me put some things in perspective: at EARS this year there were so many people going to HR to complain, the team HR rep quit out of frustration. EA hired an independent contractor to evaluate the situation; after a month of interviewing nearly half the team she said this was "the worst case of corporate labor abuse she had ever seen."

My work agreement says in bold print "40 hours weekly." During my interview I was very concerned about EA labor practices and was assured "crunch time" typical lasted about two months, never more than three. At first things seemed typical of this industry, but over the last two years the system has changed dramatically. Games are much more ambitious, and schedules are shorter. The current epic LOTR game had over 150 people in full crunch mode for 8 months. Last year's was exactly the same, and Bond was only slightly better.

EA's reluctance to handle the situation has made this lawsuit absolutely necessary. There is a mountain of evidence and there are more forces at work than just the named plaintiff. Nobody cares about the payout - any settlement will damage the employees stock price; this is not the issue. If EA made any kind of honest effort to acknowledge the problem this could be settled without lawyers. But they haven't.
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