2004-11-15 07:53 pm (UTC)
more fun emails...EA managers suck
This was sent out 6 months before ship...shit, the game was just announced. It's even title "crunch definition"........
Sent: Tuesday, September 21, 2004 4:54 PM
Subject: Crunch definition
In an effort to get us all on the same page as to what is crunch… here are the MOH4 expectations going forward.
3 late nights a week. You choose ‘em. A late night is defined as a day that you leave after 12 or more hours after you arrive. If you get here at 10am then you leave after 10pm. And so forth.
The non-late nights will be defined as leaving 9 hours after you arrive. If you get here at 10am then you leave after 7pm. Just like the bank.
1 weekend day. You choose. Saturday or Sunday. If you don’t care then please come in Saturday. There will be some exceptions where we need key people to rotate their days so we have full coverage both days. Check with your DD if think that might apply to you.
Everyone out by 11pm. Working in to the wee hours of the morning only gets one thing accomplished: creates a fried developer who has difficulty being back by 10am and is anything but mentally sharp. Get out of here, get a good night’s rest and get back in here.
Let your DD know what your default late nights and weekend day will be. This will help ensure balanced development teams. We will remain flexible as special events arise. But hopefully your default schedule will remain so most weeks.
Finally, expect exceptions to this generic definition. We will continue to have exec demos and big end-of-milestone pushes where we will ask people to put in a little extra to get us over the hump. But, hopefully, those will be exceptions and the flexibility built into this definition allows you to maintain a better outside of work life.
That’s it. Please let me know if you have any questions.
It's crunch time? Deadline still a month out?
Time to quit and take the whole team with you, and detail why to the upper staff. If a game completely fails to ship, it will affect them financially, far more so than a simply end user boycott will. Explain that the stupid hours are unacceptable, and that it's over, and that's why everyone is leaving.
I sure wish I had done that when I was in this situation. It's hard to think that the money isn't worth it on 4 hours of sleep a night. In fact, it's hard to think of anything on 4 hours of sleep a night, so you go into zombie coder mode.
2004-11-19 12:24 am (UTC)
Everyone can quit. EA has enough money to hire more people who want to work for them and are young and desperate and love games enough that they will not care how abused they are on the job. They just hope to get a game cred on their resume and use the EA name to make a move afterwards. EA as a publisher can just extend their deadlines. Even if they don't release enough SKUs or whatever that quarter, they are still making bank, so their stockholders won't cry too much.
I've seen similar stuff happen at other game publishers. Even developers can extend deadlines. They just have to blame it all on the lazy workers who walked out on them...
2004-11-15 08:59 pm (UTC)
Tiburon (Orlando, FL) and Engineers - any options?
I was both. I'm sure that there are plenty here that fall (or fell) in one of these categories.
On the engineering side, it's a bit harder. Especially if we're not in California, as we're considered professionals.
Even if we were just cogs in the machine.
I'm looking into what options we may have. Anyone interested can join me over at http://www.livejournal.com/users/adeliedreams/80750.html
or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2004-11-15 09:02 pm (UTC)
It remains a valid question.
If this is true, I will certinly think twice before buying and EA game for a long time.
2004-11-15 09:16 pm (UTC)
It's sad to see all this whining here.
No one can FORCE you to work overtime. If you don't like it, you can quit at the first opportunity and find a job at the multitude other top tier game companies that treat their employees well.
Be a man. Tell your boss to go f&$# himself and get a better job. If you're really a bad-ass game programmer like you sound you are, finding a new job should be no problem.
You are clearly a moron. Have you even READ any of the other posts? It's so much more complicated than "they can't force you to do it." Stop simplifying and start THINKING.
2004-11-15 09:24 pm (UTC)
OH boo hoo hoo
"I look at our situation and I ask 'us': why do you stay?"
You know exactly why you stay. You stay because EA pays most of their developers in excess of 100K a year. Because working for a big name company like EA fills your ego and your resume and makes girls wet. Because you dig the nice workstations, the posh offices, and the cushy gyms and volleyball courts.
If you don't think it's all worth it, then just quit. No one is going to feel sorry for you EA guys.
2004-11-15 09:32 pm (UTC)
Re: OH boo hoo hoo
If you EA guys quit, can I have your jobs? I've been unemployed for 2 years and would trade my left nut to get an opportunity to get into EA. Even if I have to work 90hrs/week I can just work for a year and then quit, at least I'll have EA on my resume.
2004-11-15 09:30 pm (UTC)
Rape is never a good thing
If I worked for a place that was so unashamedly raping me, then I'd make moves to leave. Get everything lined up, then explain to them upon leaving that rape of a sexual nature is against many many laws - not least of which human morality! And that this is no different, a job is a symbiotic relationship where overall the company "wins" because they take the risks, and can afford to do so. That does not mean that they can abuse their staff like this. It's a very foolish idea on EA's part - very much like all the outsourcing that is happening right now (some of which is arguably "beneficial" but most of which isn't in the long run) - the problem is that it will take a long time for the results to truly filter through. Anyone noticed how the quality levels of EA games has been dropping recently? Surely it's no surprise? Just like many have said here programming in not like stuffing boxes, where even there it's a crappy thing to do to your staff, but the effects on an intellectually challenging role are catastrophic over time. Vote with your feet, then clearly state why you left to HR, management etc...
2004-11-16 05:12 am (UTC)
Re: Rape is never a good thing
Whoever wrote this, I hope to God you never get raped, but if you do I'm sure the difference between it and being asked to work extra hard for a job you are comfortably compensated for (including some of the best benefits in the industry) will become a lot clearer.
2004-11-15 10:07 pm (UTC)
Let's do something about this...
I am an ea spouse as well. I spoke to my mother-in-law who is really well versed in labor issues and she suggests the following -- for those of us who want to take some action with this and not let this web post and our related comments be the end of things rather than the beginning.
The posts on here detailing what we've all been through are a great start, but most of us are posting anonymously (for obvious reasons) to detail all we've been through and continue to go through. It is great to vent, but I think what we all want is ACTION -- including back pay and future committment on the part of EA that they will pay their employees for the time they are working.
What we need to do is start a document to forward to labor officials with our statements in order to get them to open a case and start an investigation. We can do so using anonymous emails -- In other words, I don't need you to submit your real name and contact information, as long as official labor reps have a way to contact you (via that anonymous email address).
For starters, I am taking the testimony of my husband and I, along with anyone else who works for EA and wants to contribute their testimony via an email. I then plan to submit this document to the proper California labor officials (since that is where EA is headquartered) in hopes of getting them to open a case to review EA's labor practices. The only thing that I ask is that you include in your email, in addition to your story, is which EA studio you or your SO work at. The only reason for this is so that when I submit the paperwork, I can separate the testimonies by city location.
You can contact me at email@example.com
2004-11-15 10:14 pm (UTC)
Re: Let's do something about this...
Thanks for this proactive stance. It's refreshing.
I am wondering though, what if they only change their practices in California?
Maybe you can post step by step procedure here as a roadmap to others should they want to do likewise. I understand conditions are the same in Canada as well... and also in come other companies, some of them not even games related.
We've had a whole lot of interesting discussion here!
2004-11-15 10:12 pm (UTC)
Easy to look good.
It's easy for them to have pulled out the 93rd postion on the best to work for list. When a company makes it remotely easy to work on the 'overhead' or 'indirect' side of the company (the people who do HR, Accounting, Contracts etc...) then the compay looks good to the outside. If you give the 'office people' free coffee and water and a few smoke breaks they'll sing the praises and deny all of the bad claims coming from 'those crazy programmers'. It's awful the way EA traats their programmers, and it's awful that it most likely will continue... to the detriment of our passion of video gaming and programming
2004-11-15 10:15 pm (UTC)
Re: Easy to look good.
It's not just the programmers. It's also the artist (animators, modelers) and game testers.
2004-11-15 10:24 pm (UTC)
FairPay — Filing a Complaint for Back Wages Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
FairPay — Filing a Complaint for Back Wages Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
Who Can File a Complaint?
Any non-exempt employee covered by the FLSA who believes that he or she has not been paid the required federal minimum wage (currently $5.15 per hour) or overtime (1½ times the regular rate of pay for hours worked in excess of 40 in a work week) may file a complaint with the Wage and Hour Division (WHD) of the U.S. Department of Labor.
Where Can a Complaint be Filed?
A complaint may be filed by mail or in person at any WHD District Office.
When Should a Complaint be Filed?
The FLSA contains a two-year statute of limitations (three-years for willful violations). This means that any part of a back wage claim which was earned more than two years before a federal court lawsuit is filed may not be collectible.
Accordingly, to ensure WHD can complete its investigation before the statute of limitation expires, employees should file complaints with WHD as soon as the violation occurs but no later than 18 months after the violation occurred.
What Information Must Be Included in a Complaint?
The employee's name, address, and telephone number (with the best time of the day to be reached);
Employee's job title and a description of the kind of work done;
Rate, method and frequency of wage payment — for example: paid weekly at $7.00 per hour or paid a salary of $900.00 twice each month ;
Number of hours actually worked each week;
A description of the alleged violation(s) — for example: my employer failed to pay overtime for extra shifts or failed to pay for time spent loading the truck ;
Date(s) of the alleged violation(s); and
The employer's name, address, telephone number and nature of business (for example : school, farm, restaurant , etc.).
What Happens When a Complaint is Filed?
WHD staff will review the complaint to determine if the complainant: (1) was/is a non-exempt employee performing work covered by the FLSA, and (2) may have been paid/not paid in violation of FLSA requirements.
WHD staff will contact the complainant if the information provided is insufficient to make these determinations or if permission to use the complainant's name during an investigation is required to pursue the investigation.
If the review provides a reasonable belief that a potential violation of the FLSA has occurred, which the WHD can rectify, an investigation of the employer will be scheduled.
If the WHD is unable to conduct an investigation or secure back wages as a result of an investigation, the employee retains the right to bring a private lawsuit in federal court to recover back wages.
How Can I Learn More About Federal Wage Requirements?
For additional information, visit the WHD Web site: and/or call the WHD toll-free information and helpline, available 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in your time zone, 1-866-4USWAGE (1-866-487-9243) .
2004-11-15 10:29 pm (UTC)
Management Email Fun: Tiburon Studio, FL
Please note my manager says we are doing a good job but has pressure from above to do more:
Alpha, alpha, alpha.
We are now just under 5 weeks away until our beta, and 6 away from being final. Everything is going really well so far, the game looks great, bug counts are good.
I think that our approach to Alpha hours has been a good one for most people and one that has been mostly successful thus far. However, I have had some pressure to formalize the process a bit more. The goal is to give people on the team a better sense of when they can expect others to be here, as well as to structure the process in a way that could be passed on to other teams. At first glance, this might seem a bit harsh considering the success of the system so far, but in practical terms I don't expect this will change much for most people. (At least not more than things would be changing anyways as we step things up nearing Beta.)
Listed below are hour ranges for weekdays and Saturday. I would like everyone to choose the 12 hours within those ranges that they can be expected to be here. This will allow people to know when they can expect others to be here if they need help, and will hopefully lead to us being able to arrange our workloads more efficiently as a result.
There will still be a lot of manager discretion, I will try to monitor everyone as best I can, and send people home that are not needed at the moment, or in desperate need of some rest. I will inform the team when I decide to do this so that everyone is aware of what is going on. If you are ever feeling like you have nothing to do, or are dead tired, please come see me. Some days will be worse than others, and some people will have it worse than other people (some people will be working more than 12 hours per day). I would rather have that then to keep everyone here no matter what. I also don't expect you to strictly adhere to this, I understand that there may be some nights that require us to be here later, or you may have some errands to run in the morning at some point, so there will be a lot of flexibility in this, I just want to set some general parameters on when we will be around and when not.
So, if everyone could reply to me and pick your general 12 hour block, that would be great:
8am - 11pm
10am - 12am
I would expect that this block of hours will get bigger as we get closer to Beta (for example 8am - 4am), that will just be a result of some of us ending up being here really late, and thus not being able to get in real early. It is still a top priority for me to avoid having to go to seven day weeks in the future. In order to accomplish that, we need to continue to stay right on top of things.
2004-11-16 12:45 am (UTC)
Re: Management Email Fun: Tiburon Studio, FL
This is a perfect example of the studio execs putting unnecessary pressure on the team, and requiring time when it is not needed. He states clearly that you guys are on target with development and bug numbers. But you're required to WORK HARDER! For what? You're already performing well.
My nuts on their lips,
An EA employee who's doing something about it right now!
2004-11-15 10:35 pm (UTC)
I just wanted to say thankyou for posting this. I genuinely believe that reading this post and the many comments will change people's lives - it has changed mine.
I recently decided to quit a postgraduate degree in games programming because I feared many of the things you described here happening to me. Reading the many comments here has settled every possible doubt I had in my mind that I was making the right decision. You have really made me a happier person!
I'm leaving programming altogether, to do something I might actually enjoy, where I'll have some kind of job security and holidays actually exist. I only wish I'd had the chance to read this when I was 17 and I decided to do a Computer Science degree with vague notions of reaching some promised land of games development. The truth is, all jobs have elements that suck, and there really is no promised land. In the case of the games industry, it sounds more like hell.
I hope that you will continue to fight this on behalf of all the other EA employees, all other games developers, and all of those dreamer games geeks out there (far more dedicated than me) who are going to throw their futures away for something that just doesn't exist. But please remember that ultimately no fight is worth your health or your relationship, and that walking away to save either of those is no disgrace. I'm sure others will carry on the fight.
damn, I feel bad that I bought the sims 2
2004-11-15 10:45 pm (UTC)
You Should Sue
Not only are 12 hour work days immoral they are illegal. You SO, along with others in his position should either contact their local ACLU rep or form a Union. The Gaming industry is still a relativley new buisness so it seems likely that this sort of injustice will occur. I suggest taking immediate action and publising the injustice as much as possible.
2004-11-15 11:17 pm (UTC)
Re: You Should Sue
Things might just start to happen. No real web page yet, but at least email is working already: firstname.lastname@example.org - time to form game developer's guild maybe?