Hello again. First, I want to sincerely thank you for the cordiality in your response. After some of the recent posts in this thread, it is relieving and refreshing.
As you say, I have intentionally kept a 'veil of mystery' surrounding my personal information and my SO's. I do believe that, for now, this is still necessary. However, and this depends on how you count it, we are not new to the industry. Both of us have worked in it before, and both of us have experienced crunch. I do entirely know what you mean about the inavoidability of crunch, and it is not crunch itself that I oppose, but rather when crunch is planned in to the development cycle. For someone who explains this better than I want to take the time to right now (no offense intended, I just don't like re-stating what someone else has already said well ;) ), I would point you to Damion Schubert's "In Defense of Crunch"
Your comment on worker efficiency is valid, but given your time in the game industry, I would have to ask how much intentional inefficiency you observe during crunch times. Do your coworkers "screw around" during this time? In the companies I've worked with, whether there is 'screwing around' normally, it doesn't occur during crunch or when the team is behind schedule, period -- if it does, I would think that that is actually a management issue. However, the problem that I have specifically observed with EA, and from publishers in my experience with other companies, even has nothing to do with this, and to suggest that the problem is the workers in those particular cases is -- painful. Let me explain.
EA directly, in my SO's recent experience, and publishers, in our previous experience, are not satisfied when a project remains on schedule. If it does, their response is to add features. And add them, and add them, until "crunch" at the end of a project goes far beyond what would be considered reasonable even by a seasoned game developer team. Even the designers object to this, as it amounts to making design decisions on the fly, something that rarely yields good results. One EA designer posted his story with a similar experience where design decisions kept coming down from upper management -- his original design was scrapped and he was asked to do it over. He did it over seven times, before, in exhaustion, submitting his ORIGINAL idea -- which was approved! This is only a single anecdote, but it represents in a condensed version what the teams frequently experience; there are other stories of the exact same thing on other projects. There is a problem here, and blaming the workers is very similar to blaming a -- if you'll forgive the analogy -- victim of domestic abuse for 'asking for it' from an abusive family member. These problems are not limited to EA, certainly -- but they are definitely present there, and we have to start somewhere.
Thank you again for the courtesy in your response. I will respond to your other comments later this evening.