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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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[User Picture]From: teh_roq
2005-01-14 08:42 pm (UTC)

(Link)

Your story has truly moved me. I was not a big fan of EA to begin with (I think the only EA game I own is Burnout 3), but this story, in concurrence with their recent attempts at global software domination, has finally convinced me to boycott EA.

God bless you, and may better opportunities flow your way.
From: (Anonymous)
2005-01-18 09:43 pm (UTC)

EA..seems tough ain't if you comapre it with other jobs

(Link)

I read you article with interest, but long hours and working weekends are now a lifestlye in an increasing amount of employers.
I have a background in investment banking and I frequently need to put 100-120 hours of work a week in when working on a live deal. Similar such workloads exist for junior lawyers, so this case is nothing special or unique.

And working 120 hr a week and weekends does not equate to bonuses or overtime, it's part of the job and the sacrifices you make to have and keep it.
From: (Anonymous)
2005-01-19 02:00 am (UTC)

Re: EA..seems tough ain't if you comapre it with other jobs

(Link)

Interesting input. Not sure I understand the argument that similar hours in a different industry infers that everyone should just embrace it because nothing can be done to change things.

I have 2 questions:

(1) "I frequently need to put 100-120 hours of work a week in when working on a live deal"

These conditions are ongoing throughout the year, year after year, and in mismanaged circumstances that are often repeated year after year?

(2) "long hours and working weekends are now a lifestlye in an increasing amount of employers ... working 120 hr a week and weekends does not equate to bonuses or overtime, it's part of the job and the sacrifices you make to have and keep it"

So, accept it just because?
From: (Anonymous)
2005-01-19 03:32 am (UTC)

All a union's going to is

(Link)

stifle creativity.
look at what it's done for Hollywood
From: (Anonymous)
2005-02-22 12:30 am (UTC)

Re: All a union's going to is

(Link)

No, unions didn't do that to Hollywood... Major film studios without original storylines or the willingness to see beyond their dollar signs did that to hollywood.
From: (Anonymous)
2005-01-20 01:34 am (UTC)

NFL contract, ESPN contract... what's next?

(Link)

so much for healthy competition. The unfortunate thing is that the SEGA/ESPN sports games rivalled (if not surpassed) EA sports games in quality. It doesn't help the industry and takes away from the consumers.
From: ravidrath
2005-01-20 02:16 am (UTC)

This made me sad...

(Link)

Saw this post in a friend's 'blog and it made me sad.

And let's not all comment at once so he doesn't kill me, okay? o:)

http://www.1up.com/do/blogEntry?bId=3155719&publicUserId=5380482

-Peter
From: (Anonymous)
2005-01-20 07:04 pm (UTC)

Re: This made me sad...

(Link)

Makes me sad, too. Great reply, though.

At any rate, glad to see a new post from you, Peter.

Btw: Today I found the following on a financial message board that tracks EA's stock. If I missed this link on previous Live Journal posts, please excuse the error.

Gamers Against EA Games.

http://www.gamersagainsteagames.com/index.php
From: (Anonymous)
2005-01-20 04:41 am (UTC)

People began falling asleep at their desks...

(Link)

http://www.strategyplanet.com/republic/d29.shtml

Productivity was targeted, wrongly some might say, as the chief source of our problems. Working hours were ramped up, to the point where sleep came courtesy of three chairs at the back of the office. Hours started to exceed 120 per week. People began falling asleep at their desks, warm game pads dangling lifelessly from their hands. As winter set in the lack of heat and light began to take its toll. Casualties were inevitable: Two Testers were sacked. When it became obvious that these games weren't coming out for Christmas, two more disappeared, leaving two of us left. The Manager said they'd been taken back to the main office but we weren't so sure. It began to feel like some sort of computer games gulag, a monumental trial of mental and physical fibre.

From: (Anonymous)
2005-01-22 09:37 pm (UTC)

(Link)

It stinks that you didn't know this going in, but at least you are opening other people's eyes. When they get those job offers, they need to consider that they will be working 60-80 hour weeks and then figure out what that time is worth. If your husband is working 80 hour weeks and getting paid less than $80,000, then he's making less than $20 an hour (including overtime). Part of their business plan is to profit from their employees. If I could get programmers to work for me for $20/hour, I'd be signing them up in droves as well.
From: (Anonymous)
2005-01-22 10:19 pm (UTC)

corpote profits

(Link)

corporate profits are the "spread" between what a company pays and what it receives from employees.
[User Picture]From: fotonurth
2005-01-24 11:44 pm (UTC)

(Link)

EA's practices have always been a subject for personal boycott for me. And I'd heard of this article many times. But this is my first time reading it. And I have to say, if companies begin running Like EA, my dream of game design will be crushed. Still good to see people Like Bungie and Blizzard Running Decent Hours for their workers.
From: ravidrath
2005-01-26 09:23 pm (UTC)

...Blizzard?

(Link)

I don't have a lot of specific information on Blizzard, but I've heard they don't exactly have decent hours. While they are certainly exceedingly willing to throw more people at the problem, their management seems to be unable to use them properly and they get hung up for months at a time with little or no progress, which is part of the reason why their games take so long to make.

-Peter
From: ravidrath
2005-01-26 08:56 pm (UTC)

Massive Lay-offs at EA Today...

(Link)

I passed this on to the press this morning, and the first story has gone up.

http://www.1up.com/do/newsStory?cId=3137918

Sad news - hang in there everyone, and I'm sure you'll find new work quickly.

-Peter
From: (Anonymous)
2005-01-26 09:16 pm (UTC)

Re: Massive Lay-offs at EA Today...

(Link)

I think those in the office had an inkling this was coming. How nice that EA had the money to push through that NFL deal, but when it comes to holding onto their work force, too bad, I guess.
From: (Anonymous)
2005-01-27 12:18 am (UTC)

Okay....

(Link)

So...

1) EA works their employees to the bone by having them work 60-80 hours a week.

2) Spends $300 million+ to purchase exclusive rights to the NFL.

3) Posts that they made a profit this quarter (not as much as expected, but still a profit).

4) And then fires 60 employees from their LA branch (which in itself is a shining example of corporatism gone wrong, with money spent willy-nilly on pointless stuff).

The people laid off are not just from MoH and Goldeneye -- it's across the whole LA office. This is bullshit, to work people like slaves for months on end, and then say "Well, here you go, bye-bye." The whole POINT of the LA office was to have multiple teams working on multiple projects -- why spend millions of dollars for this, and then start laying people off?

So many people say "That's how business works, live with it." You know what? As a gamer, I expect better from the companies that I buy games from. I DEMAND better. The people making these games should be gamers themselves, who care about the games, the people working on them, and the people buying them, not a bunch of corporate suits who only care about making their investors happy. To see a game company acting like any other corporation disgusts me -- should I be surprised? No. But I can speak with my wallet...and my wallet is going elsewhere.
From: ea_spouse
2005-01-27 01:23 am (UTC)

(Link)

I'm re-posting this as a top-level comment just in case anyone is here looking around after the recent news of the EA layoffs. The original message was in response to Peter/ravidrath's comment above:

Re: Massive Lay-offs at EA Today...
[info]ea_spouse
2005-01-27 01:21 (link)
I'm really not sure what to say to this. I'm not entirely shocked, since with the response to the latest Golden Eye game I agree that the folk at the LA office probably saw it coming, but I for one didn't expect it to be so severe. News of the "EA bloodbath" is circulating around the wires today.

The bit about the Golden Eye game is indeed powerfully, bitterly ironic. From what I understand, the project was abysmally managed, and that team, along with Medal of Honor, was run absolutely into the ground. They were not given the chance to produce a good product. I don't think anyone can doubt that the Bond franchise is one with an extreme amount of potential. But there is no doubt that the individuals on the team, the ones being let go now, were at fault. They were caught up in a badly performing cycle of the machine. And as always they are the ones paying for it, not the ones responsible for the machine's behavior in the first place.

My sympathies to everyone hit by the layoffs. I do think that they will land on their feet; here's hoping. If anyone needs a hand or a contact passed along, drop me an email, I'll see what I can do. It probably won't be a lot, but better than nothing, maybe. =)

From: (Anonymous)
2005-01-27 03:45 am (UTC)

Have you been "rebalanced"?

(Link)

Re-balanced (verb) - an idiotic euphemism uttered by Neil Young.

I listened to EA's scheduled conference call yesterday. Warren Jensen crowed that the company posted a record $722 million cash flow, then hurried over the bit about EA's Q3 revenues were down 3 percent, and sales are down 6 percent in North America. Larry Probst later blamed sluggish sales on Sony failing to supply enough consoles to retailers this past Christmas season. (That's a real "dog ate my homework" move.) Probst later echoed a closing thought that EA is committed to investing "in people, product and technology."

And today, EALA "rebalances" 60 employees.

For a company boasting its intent to dominate the global gaming market, with new devices and platforms to come, this makes no sense.

Since the EA brass appear to be in some kind of media lockdown mode, is there anyone "rebalanced" who can somehow get the word to the rest of us what really happened? Is this "rebalancing" (christ) truly across the board, or was the Goldeneye team singled out? What gives?
From: (Anonymous)
2005-01-27 04:58 am (UTC)

Re: Have you been "rebalanced"?

(Link)

Let's not punish the LA studio for the "rebalance." Don't forget who is at the healm as the company CFO - Warren Jenson, the individual that built a reputation for his "cost-cutting" measures that drove Amazon to profitability. Spend less, increase profits was his mantra at Amazon, and prior to that, he was at Delta Airlines - a shining example of healthy employee relations and workplace stability. Clearly, this is simply an example of finance guiding development, plain and simple. Spent top much money, games didn't sell enough, need to keep shareholders and large institutional investers happy - cut staff. The shareholder wins, the employee loses. Sounds like another "win" in corporate America and yet another slap on the back of Jenson's freshly starched Brooks Brothers suit. Increasing shareholder confidence, pleasing the street, having scalable growth - these are the driving factors.
From: (Anonymous)
2005-01-27 06:09 am (UTC)

MUCH more layoffs to come

(Link)

In my opinion, EA is laying off in increments to prevent having to notify employees via WARN act provisions. More to come in the months ahead.






From: (Anonymous)
2005-01-27 02:32 pm (UTC)

list of people who got axed?

(Link)

can we start a list here of everyone who got laid off?
From: _boneflower_
2005-01-28 06:19 pm (UTC)

Eat the Rich

(Link)

Oh, dear. I've heard some bad things from people in any kind of game/software development, but this is one of the worst. I'm sorry you guys have to go through this.

Death to corporations, ne?
From: (Anonymous)
2005-02-01 07:29 am (UTC)

I quit EA....

(Link)

And got a $20,000 a year raise at a competing company!

Suck my balls!
From: (Anonymous)
2005-02-03 04:50 pm (UTC)

Re: I quit EA....

(Link)

You were obviously employed in the EA HR department.
From: (Anonymous)
2005-02-01 05:27 pm (UTC)

Rats flee a sinking ship?

(Link)

Read all about it here:

http://finance.yahoo.com/q/it?s=ERTS

From the looks of things, Jenson hoodwinked the public last week.

We're all waiting for your conference call this week, Warren. Why are so many senior VPs, execs and directors suddenly dumping shares when, as you reported, EA's future is strong?

If you don't want to answer that right now, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act may force you to later on. It's only a law, you know.
From: (Anonymous)
2005-03-29 07:43 am (UTC)

Re: Rats flee a sinking ship?

(Link)

nice, whomever posted this has some damned foresight. now here ea is with ANOTHER class action lawsuit.....

sweet....
From: (Anonymous)
2005-02-01 11:13 pm (UTC)

Comments from Gamer

(Link)

Well, i don't work for any game industery, but i surely played alot of games. From my experience, there is something about the game produced by EA, that is hard to describe. And this jornal answered my weary. During gameplay, i feel that the game developers have the quickly-do-and-be-done-with-it kind of attitude. I made this comparison with Valve and Id software. After reading this journal, i realized that the problem was not with the developers, but the management instead.
From: (Anonymous)
2005-03-17 04:15 pm (UTC)

Re: Comments from Gamer

(Link)

Got to say, I know what you mean. EA are simply trying to, as you've said yourself, be a Godzilla style monster on a rampage in the Gaming Industry at the moment, and being able to buy a majority share in Ubisoft seems a mighty good way for them to proove just how big they're becoming, and I ask myself "Why the hell are they so successful?". I just couldn't really figure it out, because a majority of the games they produce I find are, no offence to your SO, kind of poor quality- this I think is an example in the finished products, which SHOWS the fatigue and exhaustion the workers there go through, causing the games to just drop. Then, EA get a game out quick, buy up a few smaller companies and push them to work faster (Can anyone say Free Radical developement team, or even possibly Ubisoft?), get money simply because the game is based on a franchise and NOTHING ELSE, and they pay their workers an illegally LOW amount.
From: (Anonymous)
2005-02-02 10:25 pm (UTC)

At my work....

(Link)

We've decided to boycott EA games. I work in the gaming retail, and we encourage people to buy anything but EA games. It isnt much, but after the NFL thing, that was it for us.

From: (Anonymous)
2005-02-03 08:45 pm (UTC)

Yeah, totally

(Link)

Wow, I totally know what the whole thing is like... I used to be an employee at Maxis, a subdivision of EA. Crunch was crazy, people lost it...

CR
www.montana-band.com (http://www.montana-band.com/)
From: (Anonymous)
2005-02-04 05:41 am (UTC)

"...Your time is OUR money"

(Link)

http://www.lifeofanactor.com/video/iwantmyvacation_300k.wmv
From: (Anonymous)
2005-02-04 04:08 pm (UTC)

"On behalf of corporate America..."

(Link)

"On behalf of corporate America we'd like to thank you for siphoning valuable time away from loved ones, for trading weekends for work ends, and taking one for the team, even as your overall quality of life takes a nose-dive. Thanks to your hard work and dedication, 26% of Americans don't take any vacation at all. So keep up the good work, America, and remember, your time is our money!"
From: (Anonymous)
2005-02-04 04:27 pm (UTC)

I'm a robot programmed not to know...

(Link)

... that < a href=http://www.inch.com/~sindorf/Pete_Miser-640.mov
>I'm a robot.</a>
From: (Anonymous)
2005-02-04 04:29 pm (UTC)

Blargh.. guess that didn't work.

(Link)

Here's the link. Cut and paste.

http://www.inch.com/~sindorf/Pete_Miser-640.mov
From: (Anonymous)
2005-02-07 08:39 pm (UTC)

(Link)


This never sat well with me, it has been nearly a year and its one of the things that come up when talk about internal problems in the past couple of years at work. Lots of things bug me, but this one is at least concrete. Everything seems straight up until the last part.

It has to do with EA_spouse's post because this producer disagreed with implementing a high risk, high cost feature into her project that would have piled more onto the already over full plates of the guys working on it. I spoke with her a couple weeks before this, and she was very aware of what management was doing. I heard she got a hold of this email the following week anyway before she was "laid off". I got it when the chain was 2 deep, I don't know how far it got sent out or how many people saw it before she did. I think that's disgusting. What happened to the feature? People slaved away at it for about 4 months and it got cut anyway.

I can't do anything now except post it for people to see, if anyone is still following this blog. We don't talk because we are scared for our jobs. This is why we just go along. I have to get out.



-----Original Message-----
From: Wilkinson, Kevin
Sent: Thursday, February 19, 2004 11:28 AM
To: Leczynski, Rick; Dang, Moira; Mohseni, Kiana; Harrison, Bill; Bosa, Lino
Subject: XXXXXXX re-design

Here is a first pass at a revised plan for XXXXXXX redesign. I have assembled a mini-swat team to help with this for the time being. Jason Leigh(MVP) will be redesign the interface with visual mockups from Rick Stringfellow. Bert Sandie has assembled the schedule/plan below - Thanks Bert!

The swat team is meeting John Friday morning to present the plan/schedule and current state of the design. I wanted to send this note to make sure the deliverables below will work for the respective teams. Please provide feedback by end of day today - thanks!! Stay tuned for an update after Johns meeting.

I am at EAX in meetings this afternoon.

-Thanks, Kevin

Note: Naomi is not aware of what is going on at the moment. I am working with John to resolve this as Rory is away for 3 weeks. Please keep things quiet for the time being.



From: (Anonymous)
2005-02-15 04:21 am (UTC)

(Link)

Wow. No deluge of 'suck it up or quit' emails. I thought you guys had all the answers ...?
From: (Anonymous)
2005-02-10 04:20 pm (UTC)

Mark Skaggs is a fat Bitch

(Link)

What a moron.

"...the team that brought you Command & Conquer™ Red Alert 2™, Command & Conquer™ Yuri's Revenge™, and Command & Conquer™ Generals..." announces Red Alert 3

The team that brought you all those games does not exist. Each time, the team scatters to the four winds after they have to endure one of Mark Skagg's "infamous" projects. There is maybe a small handful of members left over from Generals, and maybe 2 or 3 loyal mutts left from Red Alert.

Mark Skaggs is a novice developer turned producer who witlessly tortures his every employee with his illogical, nonsensical ideas and noise-making. His incompetence has been the bane of everyone who comes in contact with him, and has been the major reasons for the insane crunch and piecemeal team building.

Mark Skaggs spends so much time at work, in fact, that he must constantly impregnate his wife so that she will be too busy to complain. His ethics are as deep as his insight, and he very often forgets to wear deoderant.

Like most egotistical producers in this industry, he is blinded by an insatiable lust for attention, like an only child. He has no viable or applicable industry experience or know-how from the developer level, and infects any idea he approaches with his inferior mind.

Do not go within 100 feet of Mark Skaggs for fear that you will be infected by his ignorance.

Thanks you.
From: (Anonymous)
2005-02-11 08:40 am (UTC)

Re: Mark Skaggs is a fat Bitch

(Link)

game producers act the the children who buy their games
From: (Anonymous)
2005-02-15 06:52 am (UTC)

Game Programming Student

(Link)

I know that this comment probably wont be read, but I just have to say that its horrible that the game industry is doing this. Being in the industry has always been a dream of mine ever since I got my first NES when I was 13. I haven't ever worked in the industry yet (but I will (pray) I do when I grad. from college), but the long hours is something that the professor(game developer) at my college tells us about all the time. To be honest with you, that really sucks that your "SO" is going through a hard time and all, but to me it would be a dream. Maybe not to work at EA, but to work on a game with a team long hours, and doing what the team loves doing. I know that I'm not in the industry and I don't know what "Crunch Time" is like yet, but I already rarely sleep as it is from working on my own personal projects and studing. I guess to wrap it up, it sucks that people at EA are getting treated that way, and I hope it changes.
From: ea_spouse
2005-02-15 09:23 am (UTC)

Re: Game Programming Student

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I am still reading all comments. =)

What I really would like you and others like you to understand is that what you talk about used to be our dream. My SO and I entered the industry together and we share a great passion for making games.

What you must also understand is that a team that suffers physically is doing something wrong. They are either not skilled enough to be tackling the project they're attempting (rare), poorly managed (less rare), or working for something that they believe is genuinely and uniquely benefited by their sacrifice. These three conditions are not internally exclusive; sometimes it's all three. And while the last case looks the most attractive to you, and is easy to focus on romantically, like all dreams, it cannot be lived interminably in reality. It is easy for you to rarely sleep and work on your own projects because you are young. Trust me; I've been there. But if you keep abusing yourself this way, your body will slow down. To some degree your body is going to slow down even if you treat yourself properly. The question will be whether you find that right treatment for your body -- I should mention, the only one you're going to get -- before you do yourself serious damage. If you think I'm kidding, find some people who work in this industry and ask them.

It is critical that you attempt to understand these things, because you and people like you are our future. And our 'future' runs a deadly risk of stealing our lives from us, right now. It is difficult in many cases to be a veteran in this industry simply because there is a definable age bias -- it isn't just EA that wants young bodies who will throw their living resources at a project. The industry will to a certain extent be driven by the lowest common denominator -- the worker who is willing to harm themselves for the sake of some CFO's Ferrari. I am asking you not to be this person. I promise you that you will regret it for yourself, and if you don't have enough self preservation to be deterred by that, think of the people as a whole -- the people that make this industry -- that you will harm by demanding no standards for how you are treated. I know it's hard to see any of this from the outside, but I'm asking you to try.

When I was in college I had an animation instructor tell my group that if he ever caught any of us working for less than twenty dollars an hour he was going to come and beat the crap out of us, because it harmed HIS job. This is the same thing, only the standards are far lower. And it's worse because when we work the deadly long hours -- and make no mistake, I am not saying that a three week crunch before ship is going to kill you, I'm talking about the incessant hauls that have been carried out at EA -- we are not making good games. It simply isn't possible.

If the game is good enough, if the people are good enough, there is no need for this nonsense, and therefore to tolerate it is sheer stupidity. We can keep riding the track that we're in or we can push the industry to a greater standard. Look at the quality of games being made today. Very few are of the caliber that will be remembered in future years. Why do you think that is? The answers aren't simple, but most of them have to do with people.
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