2004-11-11 11:53 pm (UTC)
someone should at least inform the union:
2004-11-11 11:58 pm (UTC)
EA isn't union.
2004-11-12 12:08 am (UTC)
2004-11-12 12:08 am (UTC)
i'm shocked. i'd definitely follow the advice of those suggesting legal action. thank God for the internet, where information like this is so easily shared...
time to share this link with several dozen other people...
EA's not likley to have too many fans after this, especially after newspapers contact them and news shows do stories about this article.
2004-11-12 12:22 am (UTC)
This practice is rampant in the game development sector, even in small studios.
My husband works for a studio where a guy recently had a heart attack, and instead of letting the poor man rest, the management kept in touch with him telling him how behind they were getting, and how it would be really great if he could come in and work. It was disgusting how they were trying to guilt him into working hours when he was suppose to be resting. This is what they do best. They make you feel like you are a disappointment to your team. That the game won't ship because of you, and you'll start losing them contracts.
Divorce and families troubles are common, workers have gotten into car accidents due to falling asleep at the wheel. Workers have had strokes, ulcers and other stress related conditions. This is a relatively young work force too. Most of these men are in their 20's and 30's.
Something needs to be done, and I think your approach of public awareness is brilliant. Thanks for being so brave.
Thanks for your comment. I read a comment from someone on slashdot who mentioned one of their coworkers DYING from overwork in a crunch like this. He went home one night and never came back, they found him on the couch... a cold had turned into deadly pneumonia. My SO has gotten sick twice on this project, and they just kept pushing him -- at one point the whole office was coughing. The slashdot post scared the living daylights out of me. Of course because there's two of us we're able to stop things before they get so bad, but it is not hard at all to see how something like that could happen under these conditions.
2004-11-12 12:33 am (UTC)
Here is another problem. If EA will come out of USA to china and india for bigger part of the production pipeline...Is it will be better to lose these job places at least for just aftercolledge workers?
2004-11-12 02:24 am (UTC)
EA is already starting up an office in China that is planned to have more emplyoees than in the states.
2004-11-12 12:34 am (UTC)
Oh boo hoo hoo
Tell your husband to quit and find another job that is as fun to do as making games. Let him work at UPS working regular 8 hour shifts packing boxes. See how much fun he has then, at least you won't whine because he is home everynight for dinner. Then you can have your social life and quit ruining other peoples days by bitching about how bad your life sucks.
2004-11-12 12:36 am (UTC)
Re: Oh boo hoo hoo
Oh, I'm sorry, did I ruin your day? My bad.
2004-11-12 12:35 am (UTC)
EA: The Human Story
The same thing has existed in the web development industry for the last decade. Bosses would always threaten to get "younger, cheaper and more dedicated programmers" if you didn't work unpaid overtime all the time.
The web industry is no different, but at least your EA stock options are worth something....
2004-11-12 12:39 am (UTC)
Re: EA: The Human Story
Legally speaking -- and bear in mind I only have the vaguest notion of this from what I've been frantically trying to gather in the way of information -- those stock options can actually be dangerous. Once you possess stock in a company, there's a certain murkiness with the law as regards overtime exemptions. Again, I'm not 100% certain of how this works, and if anyone has further information I'd appreciate it, but it merits mentioning, since EA does put a lot of emphasis on exercising those stock options.
2004-11-12 12:46 am (UTC)
Taking the Next Step
Thank you for what you wrote. It takes tremendous courage to take a stand, as you did here. Most people just endure, and then just move on, either because they think there is nothing they can do or because they simply do not have the strength to stand up and be counted. The companies know this and they prey on it.
A friend sent me the link to your posting because I am an attorney and I help employees, particularly IT employees, recover for their unpaid overtime. Here is a link to my web site: www.ITOvertime.com.
I have lots of information there for anyone who is interested (you obviously have already done your homework) including the overtime statutes and regulations. You are absolutely correct that most IT employees do not qualify for the IT employee exemption, which is Labor Code Section 515.5.
First of all (and as strange as this may sound), the statute was never intended to apply to salaried employees. The legislature passed SB 88 because industry complained about having to pay hourly IT people time-and-a-half, when they were already being paid for each hour worked. The overtime regulations make this intent absolutely clear.
Second, in order to be exempt, an IT employee must make at least $44.63 per hour, which will increase to $45.84 per hour on January 1, 2005. Even if this exemption did apply to salaried employees, which it does not, you are right that the minimum salary to be exempt would exceed $90,000 per year ($44.63 x 52 weeks per year x 40 hours per week = $92,830.40)!
There is a reason why the legislature set this figure so high. Public policy requires companies to pay employees for their overtime hours, and you did a better job explaining the reasons for this than I possibly could.
I would love to help you and your spouse with this problem, if you both decide that is something you want to pursue. Even if you don't want to pursue it, I would like to post your story on my site. (I will not post it unless you say it's OK to do so.) What you've written applies to so many companies that only care about the bottom line, and not the impact on their employees and their families. You obviously wrote from the heart, and people should hear what you have to say.
Please let me know if I can be of help. In the mean time, I wish you and your spouse courage and strength.
2004-11-12 01:11 am (UTC)
Re: Taking the Next Step
Hello Steve -- thank you for your comment, it is very informative, and hopefully will clear up a lot of questions that other commenters here have had about how the labor exemptions work. I do know that my SO and I do not intend to stop here as regards the whole situation, but we also have not decided what direction we will take, or with whom. The class action lawsuit involving artists has already been mentioned in this thread. It does not currently apply to programmers, so some of that field is still open, but the folk involved with that lawsuit believe that we are strongest if we stand together, and I agree with them, so any legal action would at least be coordinated in tandem with their efforts. I am trying my best to encourage other EA employees who have posted their stories here and elsewhere to take action on their grievances as well.
Please feel free to post my article on your website. I posted it with the information about the Creative Commons deed specifically so that readers would feel free and encouraged to re-post so long as it was for informational purposes and was unaltered. I have also given permission for the post to be translated into Russian for re-posting on another site... you, being a lawyer, might be better able to tell me whether the CC deed applies to translations, but in either case, the bottom line is that I would prefer that as many concerned people as possible be able to read this and be informed.
2004-11-12 12:53 am (UTC)
Leave the game industry for software development
I always aspired to be a game developer. I was always amazed by the quality of games produced year-by-year.
Game developers are the cream of the crop but they are underpaid and exploited. If you want better pay and normal work hours, go work for a software development firm.
The customers of software development companies are other companies and corporations that depend on the software for the day-to-day running of their business. Therefore SW companies know that to make a quality product that doesn't upset their VALUABLE customers, they can't kill their employees like EA does. They also hate losing employees because new hires take a-lot of time to get up to speed. Therefore they provide ALOT of good benefits and normal works hours to lure and keep employees. Because without them they will loose customers, reputation and business. But the FINAL customers of large Game Development(GD) companies are us, the consumers. They know consumers will buy any game as long as it has good hype or heritage. They produce crappy games that end up in the trade-in shelf next week, but they still get money for it. They don't have a reputation or support contracts to uphold.
I recently graduated with a BS. Computer Science degree and took up a new job. I'm not even 21 years old and I'm making over 59k with a TON of benefits, that with a GPA below 2.8 . Seriously quit and go for a SW company. Game developers are highly skilled. They can adapt and learn new stuff fast.
2004-11-12 01:01 am (UTC)
I always thought EA was ruthlessly corporate. This company has been doing not just this but I heard about what they did to the Ultima creator and dumping the lastest Ultima project because it wouldn't make a profit. God knows how much "crunch time" they put those people in for.
EA has burned too many bridges and been too unoriginal. They're like a bigger Naughty Dog: no creativity and some games may have solid gameplay. Sorry it's just that very few times have I EVER seen EA take a risk with maybe one or two exceptions. If anyone ever wonders what would happen if you took Disney and made it into a game company you have EA except EA's stuff is more tolerable and in that I'm referring to Disney shoveling out DTV stuff.
In the end I'm curious on comments here. I apologize for not wading through everyone's comments since this entry was brought to my attention recently but I have a question towards working conditions in other companies. I read your comment about Blizzard, ea but I'm wondering about others. What about Valve? Capcom or maybe specifically Capcom USA. Konami especially and this ties into questionability of their U.S. or Japanese marketing officials intelligence(coughSnatchercoughPolicenautscoughDraculaXcough), same second part to Capcom USA. Has anyone here worked for any of Sega's R&D departments?
Let me make this clear I'm not critisizing the programmers but rather EA's behavior in stifling creativity otherwise who knows where EA's games might lead.
Anyway I guess people have said this already but have him look around. If the working conditions are good and he likes to be creative perhaps he can "outsource" himself to whatever happened to UGA or other places.
Also a giant question to anyone here. What's Atlus U.S. or Japan like to work for?
2004-11-12 01:08 am (UTC)
This is as good as it gets, folks.
All you twenty-somethings reading this and wondering if it will happen to you, or if it already has happened to you, you must realize this is as good as it gets for 99.999% of you. You put up with these hours for 10-15 years and what do you have? If you aren't crippled by carpal tunnel you will still be let go the minute you slow down because there is someone 15 years younger who wants your job. Or you are still in your prime but earning too much money so they fire you. That has happened at ILM in the past 6 months, 25 year veterians with tons of knowledge fired because they earn too much. After you get fired that next job will be hard to find. First of all you aren't naive and full of enthusiasm. Second the technology has passed you by.
So you get to be 45 years old and you go looking for a new career that will pay a third what you make now. To those of you who get into this rat race: save your money, don't buy fancy cars and plenty of needless toys, invest now in the stock market and buy a home in a good, upcoming neighborhood. Something you can sell quickly when the time comes.
2004-11-12 02:29 am (UTC)
Re: This is as good as it gets, folks.
The person who wrote this article is 100% correct about saving money. Regardless if you are a white or a blue collar worker, if you can put 10% of your income away every year and start doing this early on, the incredible amount of leverage on how you want to do with your life is great when you grow older.
If you want the toys now and go in debt up to your eyeballs because you have to be and look "cool", it will come back and haunt you when you get older. Toys are temporary gratifications of the hear and now. The price that you will pay is the quality of life of your near future.
I hope you 20 somethings understand that I was there, where you are now over 20 years ago, in a godforsaken meat-grinding job, with no hope of a future unless I made my own.
And that is exactly what I did.
I made my own future.
2004-11-12 01:10 am (UTC)
My husband works in a simular sisuation. Not nearly as bad but i feel for you greatly and hope and pray that it gets better for you as the story spreads and becomes more known. Take care
2004-11-12 01:18 am (UTC)
All right. I can't take it any more.
wtf is wrong with you people!? Are you anti-progress? Let's say you live in Texas in 1850. You say, "damn, my cousin lives in Atlanta. I wish there was some way I could talk to him quicker than by 3 week post, dagnabit." And your neighbor says "I'm working on an invention called the telegraph that will let you send messages long distances in seconds" (names and locations have been changed to protect the innocent, or to avoid looking up historical facts)
Is your reaction to say to shoot him in the leg and say "You some kind of whiner, you sissy?? The post office has always been in charge of state to state communication and that's the way it's always gonna be!"
Someone says "I'm extremely unhappy and I'd like to do something about it", you do not get to respond by trying to convince them that they're not really unhappy or they shouldn't be miserable or there's nothing they can do about it or any of that crap. A group of people says "we've been mistreated and we need help making it right" and you ought to react by saying "right on!" Do you tell someone who's just been hit by a drunk driver that they shouldn't outlaw drunk driving, just be thankful they didn't get in an accident on a muddy mountain road in Malaysia? Do you tell someone that's been a victim of ID theft that muggings are a lot more painful, so don't bother trying to recoup your losses - if you don't like it don't have bank accounts or credit cards?
How about, instead of telling people to shut up and take it up the ass, you actually look at the big picture and decide that maybe there is some room for improvement (I haven't heard a single person suggest otherwise) and that it might be time to do something about it.
2004-11-12 01:34 am (UTC)
Re: All right. I can't take it any more.
Most of these people saying "Boo-hoo" are either very young, have no family, or are workaholics themselves.
Or maybe they're just assholes.
2004-11-12 01:38 am (UTC)
EA Class Action Lawsuit Already In the Works...
> On July 29, 2004, a class action lawsuit was filed against
>Electronic Arts Inc. ("EA"). This communication responds to earlier
>email communications from EA management regarding the litigation. The
>lawsuit alleges that EA improperly classified some of its employees,
>including "animators," "modelers," "texture artists," "lighters,"
>"background effects artists" and "environmental artists" as exempt from
>overtime, and therefore failed to pay those employees overtime
>compensation. Plaintiff's action seeks statutory penalties, damages,
>restitution, and injunctive relief. EA denies plaintiff's claim. It
>is EA's position that it treats its employees fairly and lawfully, and
>that it has properly classified its employees within the meaning of the
> The plaintiff is seeking to bring this lawsuit on behalf of
>himself and to represent a proposed class of current and former EA
>employees as a class action. A class action is a lawsuit in which one
>or more individuals seek to represent a large number of people with
>similar legal claims (the class). One or more members of the class can
>serve as representative plaintiffs, acting on behalf of all members of
>the Class. Class actions are often used when a large number of people
>have comparable claims, and each individual claim is not sufficiently
>large to pursue separately in an economical manner. In a class action
>case, the plaintiff must show the Court that having the case proceed as
>a class action is appropriate. The Court has not yet certified this
>case as a class action.
> If the case is certified, members of the class will be notified
>as directed by the Court, and may be given the opportunity to be
>excluded from the class ("opting out"), or to hire their own lawyers to
>represent them. Generally, if a class member fails to opt out, the
>result of the case will be binding upon him or her. Any settlement or
>other resolution of a class action must be approved by the Court, and
>any award of attorney fees must also be approved by the Court. Class
>members will receive notice before any settlement or fees are approved,
>and will be given the opportunity to provide comment to the Court as to
>any proposed settlement.
> EA will not retaliate against employees for exercising legal
>rights, including by participating in the proposed class action.
> If you have any questions about the litigation, you may contact
> Plaintiff's Attorneys:
> Robert C. Schubert
> Miranda Kolbe
> Schubert & Reed LLP
> Two Embarcadero Center, Suite 1660
> San Francisco, CA 94111
> (415) 788-4220
> Thomas V. Urmy
> Todd Heyman
> Shapiro Haber & Urmy LLP
> Exchange Place
> 53 State Street, 37th Floor
> Boston, MA 02109
> Telephone: (800) 287-8119
> EA's Attorneys:
> Jessica Perry
> Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP
> 1020 Marsh Road
> Menlo Park, CA 94025
> Telephone: (650) 614-7350
> Jacob Schatz
> Electronic Arts Inc.
> 209 Redwood Shores Parkway 207/5
> Redwood City, CA 94065
> Telephone: (650) 628-7241
> Please do not contact the Court.
2004-11-12 02:34 am (UTC)
Re: EA Class Action Lawsuit Already In the Works...
Thank you! I had heard about these emails but I hadn't seen one.