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EA: The Human Story [Nov. 10th, 2004|12:01 am]
ea_spouse
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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From: (Anonymous)
2004-11-14 12:07 am (UTC)
Germany's most influencial technology magazine has picked the story up as well:

http://www.heise.de/newsticker/meldung/53216 (german).
(Reply) (Thread)
From: (Anonymous)
2004-11-14 12:08 am (UTC)

ehem!

Let's not get off track here folks.

This is about a very new industry fleecing thousands of employees and maintaining a nice wholesome image to their leaders while sweeping their sins under the rug. And someone just lifted the rug when the health inspector popped in for a visit.

Of course greedy, unethical bastards are going to get away with as much as they can before government has a chance to legislate them into some kind of decency. Thank God there are countries in this world where these legislative changes can occur.

All that anti- U.S. crap won't wash here.
(Reply) (Thread)
From: (Anonymous)
2004-11-14 12:13 am (UTC)

EA Tiburon - Slavefarm in a swamp


Just walk out guys. All of Tiburon just stand out in the parking lot, invite the local Orlando papers. The corporate whores will have to take notice when their workforce starts refusing to work. It's your blood, sweat & lost years, paying for their country homes. Without you, they are just as unemployed as they threaten to make you.

EA, set an example. Start paying overtime before you have more law suits than even your slimy lawyers can handle.




(Reply) (Thread)
From: ventrue101
2004-11-24 09:04 pm (UTC)

Re: EA Tiburon - Slavefarm in a swamp

let me know if you do this...i will join you
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
From: helpimdieing
2004-11-14 12:28 am (UTC)

Crunch

I am currently a salaried employee at EAC in Vancouver, Canada. and have to
agree with ea_spouse.The demands and working practices here are no different
and the reality of fair compensation is a blur.There is NO overtime pay for the extreme
hours that are expected - and yes, I mean expected! 'Crunch time' is pretty much
throughout the whole project, first come the monthly milestones, then pre-alpha,
then alpha, then post alpha, then comes art lock, then beta. The point is, the team
is always pushed towards some sort of deadline 80 hours a week, or more in some
cases - if not most.The teams are pushed to accomplish unattainable goals
that in the end get cut or moved to the next years edition.It is in my opinion that the
7 days a week 14 hours a day is used to compensate for poor planning and
bad management. By the way, it is not adviseable to ask for a day off during
these 'Crunch Times', beacuse you just may get a meeting with your manager
questioning your comittment to the team. Holiday weekends are days in the
calender that only make you realize how alienated you are becoming
from your friends and family outside of EA. The phrase "Number one people company"
is no more than corporate propoganda, used to manipulate the new and naive into
believing that the company actually cares about the health and well being of it's
employees.
Your probably thinking, "leave if you don't like it". The fact is I probably will because like everyone else I was new and naive and believed that working under these conditions as worth doing something I love. It seems to take a couple years and a couple
of titles for it all to sink in then maybe you stop telling yourself that the next title
will be different.

I am surprised there are less postings from EA employees about this topic,
I know everyone is talking about it.
Here is a chance ( thanks to ea_spouse) to correct an imbalance in a company
that has taken a passion that I love and turned it into a job that I will most likely leave.
I shiver to think of the next generation consoles that will demand even more content.

Kudos to ea_spouse for having the back bone to stand up for what is right.



Just another EA opinion

(Reply) (Thread)
From: (Anonymous)
2004-11-14 12:35 am (UTC)

Re: Crunch Time at Ubisoft

Working practices at Ubisoft are no different
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
From: (Anonymous)
2004-11-14 12:31 am (UTC)

For what it's worth

I won't be buying anything from EA until this is resolved. And I don't mean corporate spin resolved, I mean resolved.

Unfortunately, that doesn't mean much coming from me, because I'm not a sports game fan at all, which means there isn't much they make that I want. Just flipping through my game collection out of curiosity, I have almost no EA titles. But I will notice in the future if their logo is on something I want to buy. I've done the same thing with music since the RIAA started suing file traders and trying to fuck the internet over with legislation. If I want a CD, first I check and see if the publisher is a member of the RIAA. If they are, I don't buy it or buy it used (so they don't get $$ from the sale). Again, with my taste there are few releases from RIAA members that I want to buy, but it's $15 her and $15 there. Same deal with EA, $50 here and $50 there. If enough people think before they buy, it will make a difference, and it will be phrased in the language they understand.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: gavv
2004-11-15 04:04 pm (UTC)

Re: For what it's worth

i'm doing so as well. last thing i bought was burnout 3 since it was kinda midstream shifted to ea. I *was* planning to get this year's Tiger Woods & Nascar, but not any more
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
From: (Anonymous)
2004-11-14 12:37 am (UTC)

HUGE backpay owed when your SO quits

Unless you so is making over $44/hr (90K or so a year), under California law he is owed backpay and overtime at his "salaried" rate. You are not salaried in Calfornia unless you make over $44/hr.

If he is making over $44/hr and salaried, any work done during a day counts as a full day work -- so doing one call from hawaii in a day means it is a work day.

EVERYONE should talk to a labor lawyer when they quit EA and get their backpay - it could easily be tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars....

(Reply) (Thread)
From: ravidrath
2004-11-19 01:08 am (UTC)

Re: HUGE backpay owed when your SO quits

I once did the math on this from my 10.5 months in crunch at Liquid Entertainment. The overtime pay alone, by conservative estimates, was between 100-150% of my salary at the time. After they fired a friend of mine he did get a labor lawyer and sue the company, but I don't think it went anywhere.

-Peter

(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: spigumus
2004-11-14 12:42 am (UTC)
I actually go to an art school, and Kudo Sunoda, the Executive Producer for EA in I guess the Chicago area came and visited my college.

He gave a great presentation on the gaming industry. And sadly enough, it was pretty much everything you said up above.

... yet every one of those kids who left his presentation had more motivation to get in this business than before.
(Reply) (Thread)
From: (Anonymous)
2004-11-14 09:55 pm (UTC)
Kudo Tsunoda is the Executive Producer for EA Chicago and he kicks ass. But he's an EP and, as such, enjoys a very different journey than ANY recent college graduate would experience for YEARS to come. Don't be misled because you've met and spoken with someone senior ... talk with a worker bee (an artist, programmer etc) and see if your perspective isn't different.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
From: (Anonymous)
2004-11-14 12:46 am (UTC)

Try working for Lucasfilm!

Think EA is bad? Well, it's happening ALL OVER the place! My boyfriend used to work for Lucasfilm for COUNTLESS hour a day, almost every night, and sometimes (very occasionally) spend the night under his desk during crunch-times! All for these stupid Star Wars movies?! He was paid almost a third of what he normally made in the VFX industry prior to going to Lucas. We were living together in Marin, the MOST EXPENSIVE PLACE IN THE US to live while he was still paying off his car, student loans, and turning down plenty of freelance work because he COULDN'T find time to do any!

Fortune magazine published once that Lucasfilm is one of the top companies hiring women in important roles. Later to find out that these women are getting ripped off, too! And most of them are married with husbands NOT working for Lucasfilm, thus actually making a decent salary!

Seems like companies with a reputation seems to work with the mentality of "Go ahead and leave... you're BLESSED to be working here... there's a long line of people right behind you waiting for your job."

EA is rough, but almost everyone I've spoken to who has left a Lucasfilm company has told me the same... life was MUCH better once they left and realized they could work for a company that truly valued their contributions. And that included almost any company... including our friend who got a job working at Blockbuster Video... making more money and earning more respect.

(Reply) (Thread)
From: (Anonymous)
2004-11-14 03:28 am (UTC)

Re: Try working for Lucasfilm!

Ah yes, Lucasfilm isn't union. I heard about how artists were treated at Lucasfilm and felt sorry for them. I worked for ILM for many years and now work for EA. I NEVER worked the hours I work at EA. NEVER. I was part of the union at ILM and they couldn't get away with what EA does. Even on Star Wars, I rarely worked 6 day weeks. They say the grass is always greener and boy were they right. I'm contemplating going back to ILM where on their worst day, I was treated with respect. As it stands now with EA. I feel like I'm in an abusive relationship.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread) (Expand)
From: (Anonymous)
2004-11-14 12:47 am (UTC)

Where to file a complaint when people leave & research overtime!

Complaints:
http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/dlse.html

Overtime:
http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/FAQ_Overtime.htm

Overtime Exemptions -- if he makes over $44/hr (in 2004) he can be exempt as a software engineer. Other than that, most professionals must be certified or licensed by the state of california.
http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/FAQ_OvertimeExemptions.htm
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: ellyjonez
2004-11-14 12:54 am (UTC)

from someone who has worked in a similar environment...

eh. sounds to me like many software companies and start ups. sounds like if the team would stop pushing itself so much, EA would go along with it, and everyone could work normal hours. but if the team believes they are working on something "awesome" and "cool" that they "love" which requires them to all work crazy hours (and the person who refuses to work crazy hours is looked down upon by the rest ofthe martyrs on the team), then they will all continue to slave away. it's not up to the high paid CEO to go down into the engineering dept and tell the overworked geeks to stop working so hard. they just need to decide to stop working so much, and decide that their passions lie elsewhere (or at least are balanced by other interests besides work), and that making video games is just a job. a fun job, but just a job.
(Reply) (Thread)
From: (Anonymous)
2004-11-14 01:02 am (UTC)

Re: from someone who has worked in a similar environment...

Sorry, but you have no clue what you are talking about. It's the managers that are telling us to work the hours; not us sitting there thinking "Gee, I really like working 15 hours a day! This is fun!"

If we don't work the hours, we get fired. It's as simple as that. It is up to the high-paid CEO to create an environment in which their managers are not breaking the law, and forcing people to work inhumane hours.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
From: (Anonymous)
2004-11-14 01:02 am (UTC)

I never liked EA much........

Ever since they closed down Westwood studios, I've had a bit of a grudge against them. Now I can understand why Westwood had to close: they were against the whole 'working-as-slaves' ideology and couldn't take EA's crap anymore, so EA took them out. *shakes fist*

I hope this doesn't get Slashdot or livejournal or anyone in trouble, but after I read the EA_Spouse and joestraitiff stories I felt so pissed off I knew I had to do something about it.

While this isn't intended to bring down EA (nor would it be able to, IMHO - to bring them down would require collective efforts from employees and consumers), this is something I cooked up yesterday out of spite for EA, and if it gives them a bad reputation, then so be it. They knew better than to make profits out of people's lives...

HENCE, I GIVE YOU: -----EXPLOITATION ARTS-----

you can find copies at:

http://www.cse.unsw.edu.au/~vxfe976/resources/ExA_small.png

and

http://www.cse.unsw.edu.au/~vxfe976/resources/ExA.png


If you also feel DISDAIN for EA, then you may use these images as signatures whenever, and wherever you can. And if people ask you about it, tell them that EA is a corporate sweatshop running on the lives of its employees, while management continues to strive for profits regardless of what the costs are. And if you wish, you can also urge those people to stop buying EA products until they actually attempt to fix this problem. But knowing big companies, they won't take notice until it's too late, and then they'll just go and leech off some other big company. At least I hope the next one won't be in the games industry...

Once again, my apologies to those non-EA-management people I may have caused problems to, and I hope you can see what I'm doing as an attempt to educate people about the evils of the world, rather than a direct attempt to kill EA.

BTW, by acknowledging that this post exists, the audience admits that I will not be responsible for what people do with these images. The audience also admits that the hosts of these images are also not responsible for the effects, as is anyone else I feel is related to me in any way. This disclaimer is also subject to change at anytime.

I hope that covers everything...
(Reply) (Thread)
From: (Anonymous)
2004-11-14 05:32 am (UTC)

Re: I never liked EA much........

I worked at westwood studios for 8 years
The place was awesome, Louis and Brett were doing a good job, then EA came in and those two took a lot of pressure for EA to better their products, Brett left, Lou became unaprochable and got given a deal to EALA.
Still both chose to sell to EA and took the cash, unfortunatly for the 130+ employees the door closed regardless of their needs. Some employees took a severance other relocated to EARS and EALA. Less than a dozen Westwood workers are still with EA today after the door closed.

Sad.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
From: (Anonymous)
2004-11-14 01:08 am (UTC)

prediction

all the ea employees watching this thread will stay in hiding. everyone feels really good because they get a chance to vent and put it to the MAN. as weeks pass and the grafiti on the walls of the ea castle grows denser and less legible, ea staff will grow bored from the redundancy and start to rationalize. the next project will be better. it has to be, right? ea execs have born witness to our mighty blog! rusty rueff is going to come to our rescue with an action plan following his talkback survey!

everything will remain the same.

me? i'm getting my porfolio together and getting out of here.
(Reply) (Thread)
From: (Anonymous)
2004-11-14 02:56 am (UTC)

Re: prediction

You are exactly right my friend. This is what happens every year during the crunch times and everyone who was complaining stays to complain again the next year.

This time it's just making a bigger splash, but fatbabies was exactly this... what, 3 years ago?
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
Re: prediction - (Anonymous) Expand
Re: prediction - (Anonymous) Expand
From: (Anonymous)
2004-11-14 01:25 am (UTC)

Another VGI Widow's story

I understand, sympathize and completely agree with you. My husband and I nearly divorced after a decade of marriage because of the stress of his video game career. Here’s the short version.

In 1993, fresh from college, he was hired by a local video game company as an artist. The conditions were good, the hours reasonable and the pay enough for us to live on comfortably. He worked hard and had most weekends off to enjoy life and his hobbies. He learned new software programs quickly and was eventually lured away to another in 1994 to a company started by a former colleague.

He was one of the first employees and started as lead artist. The company produced several successful games and the production crew expanded. We were married later that year and he enjoyed his career creating artwork for fun games, on time and on budget, without needing to put in huge amounts of overtime. He still had some spare time and most weekends off.

The success of this small company attracted several larger companies who initially contracted them to produce ports for their well-known titles. Slowly, pressure increased to produce results faster: weekends were sometimes just one day, work days stretched from 8 to 10 hours and occasionally longer, extended weeks became months. Perks were few and far between and bonuses were tied to the success of a game long after its release.

In 1999, the small company was bought out by a large US-based company and it the conditions changed again. By then, my husband was art director, having spent time in nearly every section of the art department. His skills enabled him to liaison between programmers and artists. He motivated his team and lead by example, always making himself available to hear their needs and concerns. As projects became more complex, additional employees were hired and the company grew to about 50 people relocated to a new office on the outskirts of the city.

In 2003, a producer was sent from head office to oversee game design and production. With no background in art or basic programming skills, he was supposed to liaison between both departments to keep the game on schedule. Instead, the company became his own personal empire seemingly ruled by ego and whim. His lack communication skills and Jekyll-and-Hyde personality made day-to-day operations unpredictable and people began to leave the company.

Working conditions deteriorated: 12-14 hour workdays were normal, 6 and often 7 day work weeks were scheduled month after month. Holidays were revoked, even legally statutory ones and vacations were discouraged even during non-“crunch times.” There were no “comp” days and only the shortest time for recovery from an illness was allowed. Important milestones and deadlines seemed to be every two weeks, revisions and rewrites were demanded, often at the last minute and release dates got pushed back with no end in site. (That project is now three years old still without a definite release date.)
To Be Continued
(Reply) (Thread)
From: (Anonymous)
2004-11-14 01:28 am (UTC)

Part 2

Not everyone who quit the company or was terminated was replaced and the remaining team had to work even harder to make up the short-fall. Salaries were good for directors and senior employees but not as generous to junior or new employees. It never seemed to occur to the producer to give the crew the one thing they all needed: time off.

We didn't complain. The few times we had colleagues over, we wives and girlfriends referred to ourselves as “VGI (Video Game Industry) Widows” due to the lack of time we spent with our partners. Everyone had the same story; partners MIA whose job was taking its toll on their relationship with their family. The only one not willing to sacrificing his personal life seemed to be the producer who was known to take ‘family days’ off and spend holidays away. How this made the rest of us feel can easily be surmised.

I never saw my husband looking so unhappy. He suffered weekly migraines for a year, most often on Saturday, the only day he was home from the office. He was depressed, lost interest in his hobbies, and had no energy to help around the house with the occasional job that needed his attention. Long weekends and holidays didn’t exist. We couldn't spend any time with our friends.. We stopped communicating. When his family saw him at Christmas, they commented on the change in his personality, not for the better. All I could say was that work was destroying him, emotionally, mentally and physically.

We sought counselling to help our relationship and realized the problem was not us: the stress from his job was. After much soul-searching and discussion, we concluded that he had to leave the company. Giving up our financial security was risky but, years ago, when he had spare time, he turned his hobby into a small business. He wanted to pursue it full-time and I agreed to continue running the administration side of it. We would blend our creative talents to make a go of it. I supported his decision and he chose to delay his resignation until after the next game deadline was met.

One day, he came home early with a big smile on his face. He’d handed in his resignation and walked out of the office for the last time. The feeling of relief that engulfed us was short lived. Within minutes, the phone rang and the producer was asking him what it would take for him to come back. He tried to take his leave quietly and persuade them he had retired from video games entirely to pursue a different career.

For us, the change of career was the right decision. Our relationship is renewed, our business is flourishing and we don’t ask anything about the game or its progress when we socialize with friends who were or are employees of the company. We sympathize with those who are still there, hope they cope with the pressure and enjoy their jobs for as long as it suits them.

From the start of the current project over 3 years ago, 32 employees have left the company to date. The atmosphere in the office is dismal and demoralized and it shows no sign of improvement. How any company can produce quality work while expecting their employees to stay healthy, focused and loyal is beyond anyone’s guess? Our guess is they don't. Employers are content to use people, discard them and hire younger, less experienced newcomers who don’t know what to expect beyond the promise of ‘good money’ and ‘perks’ that may or may not arrive. Loyalty often goes unrewarded and if you burn out, too bad.

The misconception that the video game industry is an “Information Technology” industry is part of the problem. The labor laws that govern the IT industry do NOT apply to video game production. Video game software is not critical to the business sector: they are considered entertainment software. All industries have maximum amount of work hours and time off that, by law, is supposed to prevent stress-related injuries and accidents. Overtime is supposed to be recompensed with equal time off or “pay in lieu” if the employee chooses. This applies to the video game industry but employers are ignoring it or offering employees more money than they can refuse to the detriment of their health, relationships and personal lives.
To Be Finished...
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From: (Anonymous)
2004-11-14 02:34 am (UTC)

$40.000 +

If your makeing 40 grand or more a year to just sit on your ass and make video games. I hope you are working more then 60+ hours a week . Theres alot more people in the world that earn shit for cash and work 10 times harder. and for you wifes. be happy that your not haveing to work cause your man thats working hard to support you! This world would be so much better if money wasn't ever made!

Oh boohoo your working 90+ hours a week to make a game that does nothing to improve anything! only thing they help make is more lazy people and those lazy people make the snobs behind the games.
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From: (Anonymous)
2004-11-14 02:37 am (UTC)

Re: $40.000 +

WOW, you know people that work 900hours a week. Now that's hard work.
Seriously, you voted for George W Bush didn't you?

TWAT!


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From: (Anonymous)
2004-11-14 02:51 am (UTC)

And so far all you people have..?

Ok. Large number of people. Numerous locations around the US. The sincere sentiment of wishing good for the workers and bad for the corporate. Now how do we turn these things into any valid form of action or protest?
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[User Picture]From: the_scumbag
2004-11-14 03:20 am (UTC)

Re: And so far all you people have..?

>>Now how do we turn these things into any valid form of action or protest?<<

Dude, this is the internet. Transfering online whining into any valid form of action or protest, as you call it, is akin to changing lead to gold.

Based on the article and responses... every gaming company that actually succeeds does this horrible thing. If you didnt know... you know now.

EA and these megacompanies... yeah, they'll laugh like Durandal in Lho'own orbit, but thats how things will always be.
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