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When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one… - ea_spouse [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]

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[Dec. 15th, 2004|02:18 am]
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve
the political bands which have connected them with another,
and to assume among the powers of the earth,
the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature
and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions
of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

- The U.S. Declaration of Independence

Welcome, and thank you for visiting. If you are here in search of the original "EA_spouse" article, you can find that here. The following is my update as of 12/15/2004.

So much has happened in the past month, I find it difficult to grasp. One essay written months ago set off a powderkeg of response, not just from the game industry but from the entire software development community. Truly, the power of the Internet is astounding, and all other things aside, we live in a positive age when so much information can be shared so easily and quickly.

The thing that lifted this up into public view, though, was not my essay so much as the response to it, so I will keep this brief. I have left the original essay and comments intact, and you can find them below. To supplement the original essay, I have organized my own comments and links to others' commentary into a FAQ. I have also put together a press page that links to all of the news stories related to this blog.

I am pleased and a little flabbergasted to announce that "EA: The Human Story" was nominated for Joel Spolsky's Best Software Essays of 2004. More details on this as they come.

I also would like to announce the initial inception of Gamewatch.org -- don't visit it yet, there's still nothing there. =) But there will be. It is my intent to start a non-corporate-sponsored watchdog organization specifically devoted to monitoring quality of life in the game industry. As much as I would like to extend this to the entire software industry, games are what I know, and where I need to stay right now. However, this project will be as open-source as I can possibly make it. All code written for the maintenance of the site will be available to the public, and all financial information for the organization (which will be a volunteer one) will likewise be made public. While GameWatch will occasionally run articles, its primary purpose will be to provide a reporting site where employees from any company in the industry can come to share their experiences. Our goal is to hold up and reward those companies that operate ethically, the better to ensure that top talent can seek out employment where they will be respected and best provided with the resources to do their jobs, namely family time, sleep, and sanity. Employees will be able to post anonymously or publically, as they so choose, and will also be offered an in-between option to register with the site but have only their testimonial posted, not their name or contact information. Registered testimonials will be given a greater weight than anonymous ones, but both options will be available. We will also provide forums for advice and discussion for all game industry affiliates, including existing employees, veterans, and aspiring students.

If you are interested in helping out with Gamewatch, please contact me with 'Gamewatch.org' or similar in your subject line. In particular, I would also like to announce a logo contest for Gamewatch. Simply, I'm looking for a one or two-color vector graphic (black with single-color highlighting, or simply black and white), approximately 200x200 pixels, on the GameWatch theme -- a couple of ideas we've tossed around are a caricature of an English Bulldog or Doberman Pinscher with a controller in its mouth, or some variant on an actual wristwatch theme, but do not by any means feel restricted by these suggestions. I will accept entries at ea_spouse@hotmail.com for one month, until January 15, 2005, and then a winner will be selected. I will pay the winner $20.00 -- $25.00 if the entry is provided in a standardized vector graphic format (Adobe Illustrator .ai, for instance). It isn't much, but it's what I've got -- and the artist will of course be credited on the GameWatch website.

For those interested in discussing Gamewatch.org as a concept and in its details, I have added a page here for that purpose.

All of this aside, the most important thing I have to say is -- thank you, to everyone who has visited this page, and especially those who took the time to contact me with an interest in our story. And especially especially to the spouses and EA employees who voiced their support and declared their own willingness to help our industry fulfill its potential. We're not done yet, but we've made a great start, and that is entirely due to the outpouring of response that flooded the Internet over the past month. Thank you.

Edit: Hello all. I'm sorry about this, but I've turned on screening for anonymous comments in this thread and the Gamewatch one. We have a troll who has been spamming comments every few hours or so, and I just don't have time to keep coming in here and deleting them. Rest assured if you post anything that ISN'T vulgar, I will unscreen it as soon as I see it. Hopefully the troll will lose interest soon and I can lift this.
Edit 1/4/2005: Turning screening back off, since things seem to have calmed down a bit. Thanks, all, for your patience.
Edit 2/24/2005: Modified contact link to reflect my new gmail address, ea.spouse@gmail.com.

From: (Anonymous)
2004-12-16 09:41 pm (UTC)

Re: Curioser and curioser....


My problem with you, ea_spouse, is not what you did but how you did it. How you have taken a, perhaps, valid concern your spouse have had and taken it upon yourself to blow it right out of proportion. And you do so in complete anonymity, as to not incur any repercussions of your acts or take full responsibility for your choice of actions. While you indulge in your new found hobby of saving the lives of poor overworked and underpaid game developers, your husband keeps voluntarily coming to work for Electronic Arts every morning, collecting his no doubt non-entry-level or bottom-of-the-totem-pole salaries on pay days. He himself is yet to say a -single- word for or against your claims. For all we know he might not share your point of view or not see the situation as you do. Then again -- we will never know for sure, will we?

Yes, in this industry and in this company we work long hours. Our professions are -not- all fun and games. Game development cycles are straining and stressful. But we are reimbursed more then fairly, as it is not a secret that Electronic Arts is know to pay one of the best salaries in the game industry. We have fantastic benefits, great facilities and a wonderful sense of job security. In today's world where 4 out of 5 start-up game companies go belly-up in less then 2-3 years since their conception and only 1 out of 3 companies breaks even and sees good royalties, we receive bonuses and regular merit increases. We have one of the bets opportunities of career advancement, as Electronic Arts many studios mean many opportunities of advanced jobs opening up. We can transfer within a company and live and work abroad. Having worked in the videogame industry for over 11 years I can say with utmost confidence that these and many other benefits of working for Electronic Arts hardly make it the sweatshop (here I am using that "s" word again!) you clearly make it out to be.

Now let me explain what one of many consequences of your "help' you are trying to provide for me might be. You see, I enjoy working in the videogame industry in part due to its business-casual and relaxed nature. I like the fact that I can come in between 9:00am and 10:00am and take my lunch whenever I want. I enjoy the fact that if I do need to come in late or take an extra long lunch due to life's many unexpected issues, I can make it up simply staying a bit later in the evening. I am not and never will be a morning person, which seems to be a recurring trend among my fellow game developers. Your "help" can put an end to all that and introduce the joys of hourly pay and time-cards, not to mention mandatory, rigid work day hours. It might not mean a lot to you, but it will upset a lot more of the developers you are trying to help then you think. And that is just the tip of the iceberg.

Before I finish, allow me to address the recurring theme of "thousands have responded to my story" claim you have made in your rebuttal post. Yes, without a doubt, thousands have responded to your original story. But that is largely due to the fact that it was picked up and elevated to the ranks of a nation-wide scandal by the members of the press. Yes, the very same members of the press who have suggested the idea of a lawsuit and even offered (if not out right done so) to hire your spouse a lawyer. And even after you got your point across, got a lot of support of the game development community and got Electronic Arts seriously working on the improvements of the quality of life of their employees, you will not let it rest. You only bring the negative and try your best to bypass the positive. Even the members of the press which, days ago, were eager to bring your story to the masses now say, and I quote "I told you she [ea_spouse] needed to do spread her wings and fly… I just was sort of hoping she’d roost further away." - Kotaku.com.

And that is all I have to say about that.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
From: (Anonymous)
2004-12-16 09:57 pm (UTC)

Re: Curioser and curioser....

YES. Tell it like it is!
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From: (Anonymous)
2004-12-17 07:48 am (UTC)

Re: Curioser and curioser....

I don't agree with a word of what you've written. And I work at EA.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
From: ea_spouse
2004-12-17 11:36 pm (UTC)

Re: Curioser and curioser....

You make a lot of assumptions here, and what exactly your goal is besides attacking my character rather than my issues (a distraction technique) is not quite clear to me.

First, anonymity. My anonymity is not "complete" and I am also not sure why you are so obsessed with it. In the press page on this blog you will find a section entitled "direct contacts". All of these contacts, with the exception of Netjak, I have spoken with either personally or on the phone. They have my name, my spouse's name, our exact occupations, our phone numbers (land and mobile), and in a couple of cases, our home address. I met with Alex Pham personally.

Now. As for my SO. Do you really think that if he didn't support every step in this process I would still be involved in it? This is another uninformed character judgment you make, and it is wrong. If you had actually read the articles published by the press that you so hate, you would note that my SO interviewed with Randall Stross from the New York Times. He did this in person; Randy has seen his EA badge. If you are truly all that interested in my SO's side of this, you can either read the New York Times article or contact Randy personally. He can tell you my SO's hair color if he so desires. My SO has not commented on the blog because there is little reason for him to do so -- disproving a wild conspiracy that he doesn't exist or opposes my efforts is not, I am afraid, a good enough reason. Mostly, he is exhausted, and does not touch the computer while he is home.

If you had read some of the comments on the blog, you would also know not only that other employees of EA have been fired for far more trivial 'offenses' than mine, but that several of your coworkers have warned me to guard my anonymity carefully. I am following their advice.

My identity and the veracity of everything I have said is quite realistically verifiable, and for that reason the press have the information they would need to get that verification. However, they felt they didn't need it -- in light of the copious collaboration provided by other EA employees. A number of these EA employees have given not only their studio location but their names, which I note that you have not; your comments have been far more anonymous than mine.

Yes, the press spread awareness of this story. Because that is their job. I am not sure what I have "blown out of proportion" -- perhaps you can call attention to specific phrases in the original article or in any of my comments that have in any way exaggerated the situation. What I provided was a start-to-finish narrative on my experiences with my SO's employment with EA. Challenge any statement you please (challenge everything!). You lambast a poster below for using "heavy accusations", but you have yet to call attention to a single line in my article or in the testimony of any other EA employee and challenge it directly, choosing instead to use yourself inflated terms such as "nazi sweatshop". Tell me where I have blown anything out of proportion and I will address your concerns then; until that point you are simply blowing steam.

(continued below)
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From: ea_spouse
2004-12-17 11:36 pm (UTC)

Re: Curioser and curioser....

In your comments here you first told me to "shut up" and now say that I "will not let it rest." You're correct about that last. I have no intention of allowing this to continue. I can only conclude that you are referring to Gamewatch.org in your statement about not 'letting it rest', and how you derive that that project will be "only negative" I do not know. Perhaps it's something else that you could research before speaking on.

I am also not certain where you get your information on EA paying the 'best salaries in the industry'. This is patently not true, and there are a number of assumptions that have been made by those outside of EA about the average EA salary. These assumptions have been corrected by numerous commenters other than myself. You being inside the company, the statement is less explicable, but there is a lot of mystery that goes on regarding salaries, which is fairly normal for most businesses. In my direct experience, EA's salaries are wildly variable -- workers in the software industry take pay cuts to get into the game industry through EA, while an animator with film experience might make six figures simply because the latest hiring fad is to get someone with that particular experience. The executives, of course, do very well. And in the meantime, for the hours they work, software developers at EA would make more money pumping gas at Costco.

If the result of the lawsuits against EA (which, by the way, my SO and I are not yet involved in; not a single member of the press offered to hire us a lawyer -- more misinformation from you, or you lie knowingly) is that you receive overtime, I encourage you to give it back to the company. I'm sure they'll appreciate it.
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From: (Anonymous)
2004-12-18 03:51 am (UTC)

Re: Curioser and curioser....

"My problem with you, ea_spouse, is not what you did but how you did it. How you have taken a, perhaps, valid concern your spouse have had and taken it upon yourself to blow it right out of proportion."

EA Spouse didn't blow it out of proportion. A personal story prompted a tidal wave of people to come forward in empathy, agreement and relief. Are all of these people wrong?

EA Spouse alone could not possibly have accomplished what has resulted to date; it's been the domino effect of support and what appears to be considerable consensus on the need for change that has given scope to the original blog because it was the spark that set off the powderkeg. No major newspaper like the Wall Street Journal or New York Times would have touched the story if the EA Spouse blog was a few pages long and populated with postings that clearly contradicted or negated her story.

If anything, shouldn't your irritation be directed at the powderkeg that exploded?
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