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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?


===

This article is offered under the Creative Commons deed. Please feel free to redistribute/link.
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Comments:
From: poe_diddley
2004-12-05 04:48 am (UTC)

Re: ha! tell your SO to try working as a tester for EA

yeah well you didn't work for tiburon. we stayed until the wee hours of the following day many nites. the only people working on bugs were a few developers.
unskilled labor? nice. i'd love to see the bugs your games had if the testers were only high school grads.... i guess you never started on the bottom rung huh? many of the testers i worked with had either a gaming or digital media degree, as there are two or more colleges in orlando with such programs.
you don't think i did apply for a production position? ha! there's a line out the door for at least a mile. EVERYONE wants to work in gaming. and if you work as a tester you might as well forget it if you want to be in production. if you have half a brain they want to keep you there, as it's hard to find people willing to put up with the hours and strict policies.
your attitude towards testers being a lowly position is just why it remains such. if the turn around rate wasn't so high, and management so needy for passing the buck on someone they can fire because they're temporary anyway is why there are so few actual dedicated testers.
sure, you can try to say that testing isn't an unskilled labor but you're dead wrong. if that were the case then they would actually hire h.s. students. i didn't work with ANY, so i'm not sure what two-bit studio you claim to have worked for....
and just being good doesn't mean you have any potential to be hired by EA. they want butt kissers and you want to succeed with them, your resume better reflect it. great art isn't gonna get you a job with them.
some of the most talented people i've met were passed over by them for someone who fit the more "professional" label.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
From: (Anonymous)
2004-12-05 11:53 pm (UTC)

Re: ha! tell your SO to try working as a tester for EA

Wrong - I did start on the bottom rung. As a tester, as a matter of fact, so I'm afraid I know what I'm talking about from both sides. Yes, I said unskilled labor...Test is about focus, and persistence, and some creativity. Any job that you can be trained for and productive in less than a week is unskilled. How important the work is has no bearing on that. I am not disputing that it's hard work.

In fact, overtime or no, Test burns people out and that's the main reason for not keeping most testers permanent. The other major reason is that it is truly seasonal work...there simply is not year round work for the number of testers that the company hires. What do you think they ought to do, pay them for an extra six months even though there's not enough work to support it "just because?" Get real.

High school students aren't hired because EA would rather not deal with child labor, and because the maturity level to support focus and persistence isn't there. Now you're claiming that because we require a complete high school education instead of a partial one that it's skilled? That's ludicrous.

"They want butt kissers" sounds like bullshit sour grapes to me from someone who didn't get in at the position they wanted to get in. EA has its share of butt kissers like everywhere else, but you certainly don't have to be one to get or keep a job there.

In your last (upcapitalized) sentence, you seem to be claiming that there are no such thing as "professional" (in quotes as if it's a dirty word) people with talent, but they do exist and THOSE are the people who get hired at EA. I've had my share of working with unprofessional people, and you can keep them no matter how much talent they have. There are enough people with both talent and professionalism to fill the seats at EA.
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From: poe_diddley
2004-12-06 04:30 am (UTC)

Re: ha! tell your SO to try working as a tester for EA

ok great thanks for the english lesson. i could care less if i capitalize or not.
ok first off, yeah there's plenty of sour grapes coming from me, but that's just because i had a bad experience-i worked my ass off to be one of the best testers, so that maybe i could work my way up the ladder to make it into production. i had the false illusion that just because i spent $60,000 on my education, then perhaps i could contribute to EA. it was my dream for many years to work in video games. my education is in computer graphics, multimedia, video and audio production-basically digital media.i worked alongside many people with similar dreams and educational backgrounds.
dev looks down on QA, it's just that simple. they're happy to have them there to find the bugs, but when it comes down to it, they know QA is a sweatshop. that doesn't make it right.
you can make the argument all day that it's seasonal, but so is the artist/programmer's job.it was common at tiburon to see the usual in house games being tested alongside games from other studios. so saying there isn't enough work to make them full time employees is not a valid point.
we went from one crunch time on one title to a crunch on another. repeatedly. it's not fair to force those people to be temporary, and not get the same benefits as the artists and programmers they work with. it's supposed to be a team.
and QA does have several full timers. they're called leads. those people stuck it out for years just to get that status. and usually you have to lead more than one project to really be considered to be an actual full timer. then EA takes all that hard work away by saying they can fire you anytime they want for whatever reason. that's real. this document came up almost a year ago, and several people just went ahead and quit soon after. who wants to work for years to become permanent only to find out you're once again temporary?
and your comment that the reason testers are temporary b/c they get burnt out is just ludicrous. if that's the reason they'd have a whole new staff every season. there is an influx of new employees when they hire for their big titles, but they keep people year around, regardless of what you say. otherwise how did i work there for a year? the people they kept were the best of the best, and that's a direct quote from our manager when we were all picked to stick around. quite honestly i was super happy at that point. i knew getting into the gaming industry would take years to get where i wanted to be. that's not my gripe either. any industry SHOULD have an entry level postition. but if you're gonna work people 80 hours a week, give them something back. the taxes kill hourly people who work overtime-it puts you into a higher tax bracket for just that check. it makes it not worth doing, no matter how dedicated you are to the project.
low pay and long hours while being looked down upon by the rest of the staff isn't fair no matter how you cut it.
there is NO ONE working in QA that just wants to stay there. if they say it, they're fucking liars or fools. QA management tries to make a point to say fairly often that working in QA doesn't guarantee a job in production. if they think that's what you want, you're looked down upon. plain and simple. they want loyal QA people and i don't blame them for a minute. but seasonal/temporary employment with no benefits after working 80 hours a week for YEARS is not the way to get that loyal staff. not when any dipshit less qualified person who says all the right things in the interview for production can waltz up and get a salary with benefits and stock options. there are plenty of DUMBASS artists and programmers working for EA with less credentials than me or anyone i know that worked in QA for years.
my point is that QA is a bed of talent that EA just treats like shit. i worked with plenty of people who would put in 10 hour days testing and go home to work on portfolios for that leap into production. and usually, it never happened for them.
when i say that they will take someone that SEEMS professional over someone that doesn't but is more talented, i speak from what i've seen.i know plenty of people that had the talent, had the work ethic, had the education, but didn't kiss the right booty.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
From: (Anonymous)
2004-12-06 07:45 am (UTC)

Re: ha! tell your SO to try working as a tester for EA

I'm going to let the tone and quality of your response speak for itself.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
From: poe_diddley
2004-12-07 05:35 am (UTC)

Re: ha! tell your SO to try working as a tester for EA

you're awesome. i don't really understand why you ever responded to any of these threads if you don't feel EA was in the wrong at any point.
i gather that you are defending their actions, because you seem to be bashing all my statements.
do you feel like you've always been treated fairly by them or something?
the only thing i've ever tried to say was that it's not just artists and programmers getting the raw end of the stick on the overtime/crunch time issue.
QA gets the raw end as well, and they don't even get paid salary. all i've tried to do was bring to light some of the experiences we had, but you seem to be concerned with my capitalization, and for some reason you seem to think that testers should be seasonal goofs that can just be paid whatever for their time, effort, and skills. yes, i said skills. i would love to see some of your bugs you claim to have written, since you "started on the bottom rung as well".
maybe the studio you worked for did hire uneducated people they could just fire at the end of each season. personally, i dont care. the testers I worked with all had educations, and yes, a LOT of them deserved to be in production. but getting there isn't so easy. and yes, it blows when you see meet someone that just got hired into production that doesn't know SHIT--if you know someone that works in production, it's ten times easier to get on. it happens all the time and you're a moron if you think it doesn't.
my point is simple, if the artists and programmers are gonna be part of a class action lawsuit, then somebody definitly needs to check on the hours and conditions myself and other QA members put up with. with no salary or benefits, how can you say it's fair to make them put up with the same or worse conditions?
if you have a bunch of uneducated testers writing your bugs, i feel sorry for you. those days should be over with. it should be professional on both ends, testing and dev. Tiburon actually tries to do that, all the people i worked with were great and knew their stuff. but no one got fair treatment or pay, i don't care what you say.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
From: (Anonymous)
2004-12-07 08:30 am (UTC)

Points of Agreement and Disagreement

Allow me to separate where I disagree with you from where I agree.

Points I agree with:
- Excessive overtime, paid or unpaid, is a big mistake that creates many little mistakes.
- EA sometimes treats some employees unfairly. This has, on occasion, included me, but I have hung in there anyway. On the whole I have been treated far more fairly than unfairly...but I have always taken a fairly active role in adjusting how I've been treated.
- Testers should get a crack at some of the side benefits and amenities that dev does. This seems relatively smart and, in the big picture, inexpensive and I don't understand why it doesn't happen.
- Testers have skills. Test is a skill. Bug writing is a skill (that not all testers have, unfortunately). Bug discovery is a skill.
- Test is hard work and it's also difficult work. The reasons it's difficult have more to do with repetition and monotony than they have to do with skill.
- QA is sometimes looked down on by some members of Dev. I tend to look down on anyone who behaves unprofessionally, and I see THAT in both QA and Dev on and off. Projects I've been on where QA and Dev have meshed better and had more respect for one another have gone more smoothly and produced better results for it. Projects where either side treated the other unprofessionally (and please, let's not foster the myth that it's unidirectional) tended to be plagued with problems.

Points I disagree with:
- Test is a highly skilled field. Trust me, I wrote quality bugs. Eventually I also helped fix them, and that was how I got into dev...not by browning my nose.
- Test is undercompensated for the skill provided.
- Test should be paid more because overtime pops them into a higher tax bracket.
- Education=Professionalism. Some of the most educated people I've worked with have also exhibited some of the most unprofessional behavior, and vice-versa.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
From: (Anonymous)
2004-12-07 08:30 am (UTC)

Points of Agreement and Disagreement (continued)

Points of which I am unsure:
- Working conditions for Test are illegal. I'm guessing we will all soon find out...I would not assume, as you seem to have, that either EA or its opposition would only look at a couple of disciplines.

Contradiction:
- You noted that Test does not burn people out, yet you also noted that no one ever wants to stay in test. Some questions around that are: how long should people be asked to stay, if they don't want the job? What do you consider "qualified" for Production? What makes you qualified to make that determination besides a strong opinion? You know the saying...

The company (which was not EA) where I worked in Test had a fairly high turnover rate for testers, but they were non-exempt full-time employees. We made barely above minimum wage. Many of my fellow testers were fairly uneducated, a handful had college degrees. If Tiburon is headed in the direction of better-educated testers then that's great, but I still contend that the job doesn't require it - and EA's job requirements for being a tester (completion of high school, no college degree necessary) back me up on that point. If you have a college degree you are overqualified for the average Test position, but this does not mean you are automatically qualified for a position in production or elsewhere in Dev. Do I claim that no tester is? Of course not.

If your opinions about who is and is not qualified for Production and other positions are valid, then I am honestly sorry to hear that the good old boy network is alive and well at Tiburon, if that's what is happening. Seeing someone hired ahead of you that doesn't know shit sucks at any level, but companywide that practice is definitely not aimed strictly at keeping testers down - it's just plain dysfunctional.

My advice fell into the other subthread of responses to your post...apply at the job you want, because Test is generally not going to further the skills you want to end up using and you end up victimized by the too-prevalent adverserial attitude between Test and Dev (which is generally perpetuated by both sides, in my experience). You're better off going somewhere else and doing what you had your heart set on, and either eventually finding yourself happy in that somewhere else or eventually becoming more experienced and better able to apply for a similar position at EA. If that's what you're trying to do, then I sincerely wish you luck at it.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
From: poe_diddley
2004-12-07 04:08 pm (UTC)

Re: Points of Agreement and Disagreement (continued)

now i see where you're coming from a little better.
and i agree 100%, if a production job is what i want, then that's what i should apply for.
but it ain't that easy to land a job like that with little or no experience out of school. do i think an education guarantees me or is a sole reason to hire me? of course not. i'm not an idiot. but when i and my teammates see people with no related education or work experience land ANY job in production over a far more qualified person in QA, it's tough to swallow. that happened a lot while i worked for EA. you meet people on lunch or smoke breaks and find out they never went to school to learn computer graphics, or anything related to games and for that matter barely know what a megabyte is...it's just sad to me how much they pass over the talent they already have on staff, but will most likely never see a desk in production.
all i'm saying on that note is that it's just retarded for them to pass over MORE qualified people that work in QA that at least have a first hand knowledge of the gaming industry. this is a ludicrous practice, and EA is guilty of this without a doubt. you can read the posts from others saying the same thing.
it shouldn't be this way. and i DO feel like working in QA does further your knowledge and skills of making video games. it's damn hard to keep your chops up on the art or programming skills one may have while working for QA, but you can't tell me it doesn't help to understand the process further. hell, if you ask me, everybody that works in Dev should have to put a year in as a tester. it would pretty humbling, and it would kill a lot of the dev vs. QA attitude. sounds kinda like the military, but i would just love to see some of those programmers stuck behind a screen for 18 hours on the same level, knowing that if you don't put up with the BS, you really won't be able to pay the rent or make it in the video game industry.
that's the only reason i ever did it, so that i could try to open doors for myself, but it really didn't do much more than stress me out and make me not want to play games as much or be affiliated with a big company. they just don't care about their employees as much IMO, but make BILLIONS off of their skills and labor.
i don't boycott EA games or anything silly like that, they make great products and many of my good friends still work there. maybe someday i'll go back and try for a production job if i feel like things are better (if they don't snag my IP address and blacklist me that is..).
but honestly, i don't feel like the hours we worked were fair. 80 hour weeks are not unheard of in QA. if you work that many hours, i'm sorry, you SHOULD be on the same level as any other full time employee, and you should get the same benefits.i was sick plenty of days while i worked there, but i sure as hell couldn't afford to go to a doctor AND pay my bills. forcing someone to be classified as a temporary employee in order to get out of paying them equally isn't right, whatever the reason. that talk of it just being a SEASONAL job is just silly-it's just not true for a company like EA. for smaller studios that only do one title a year, you're absolutely right. but in a studio like that, you're not gonna have year round dev either. there's always gonna be down time for someone.
like i said, i know people that worked like this for 3 years before they got any benefits-is that right? and yes, i feel like it's probably illegal, regardless of what they made us sign-i would have just about signed anything to work there.if you had truly happy people working in QA, there wouldn't be such a high turnover rate. slaving out college students for a few months and then letting them go isn't the way to get a qualified knowledgeable staff or make anyone want to stay there. i'd rather have educated, experienced folk testing my game.
it takes skill, creativity, and dedication to come up with 10 new quality bugs every day, especially near the end when you're trying to get the game out, and all the obvious ones have been found. that's when u really see who cares about the job and who doesn't. i'm not saying that testers should make $40,000 salary starting out or anything nutty like that, but it should be a little more balanced if you're gonna work those hours.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
From: (Anonymous)
2004-12-08 02:41 am (UTC)

Re: ha! tell your SO to try working as a tester for EA

as another tester from tiburon, altho i still work there, i wanted to say thank you for posting and for obviously seeing what we are up against and what we go through and what little respect we get. may i ask, did you leave voluntarily or go down in flames?
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From: poe_diddley
2004-12-09 09:32 am (UTC)

Re: ha! tell your SO to try working as a tester for EA

down in flames my friend. they created a reason to fire me. i spoke out against a certain lead in the reviews, and within 24hrs i was canned. they used the old "lying on a checklist" reason. sadly, on paper, they were right, but when i tried to defend myself A-Plow contradicted me and said that i had NOT written the bug on the same checklist question (which would have proven i wasn't trying to lie, it was just an honest mistake during a crunch time). the checklist in question was completed each day by myself and my teammates, so we had done it about 5 times within the past week. they picked the FIRST checklist to use as evidence, but on all the following checklists i had correctly failed it. honestly, i was so bewildered by their accustations and Ez was in his usual robot mode, giving me his cold circuit treatment. i tried to tell them that there were questions about the bug, and we had a discussion on our team about the subject, and initially we were told it passed. Ez basically told me that was impossible, we don't do discuss things as a group, it is either pass or fail on paper. sadly he never spends anytime on the floor, so i'm bewildered as to how he would actually know what goes on. he depends on aplow for his news on the floor, which just has to be tainted...
i wrote the bug for the question, but failed to change it on paper.
but basically, no matter what i said they told me i was wrong in their eyes, and then clocked me out and escorted me to the door. they wouldn't even look up the bug in the database to see if i was lying or not, i guess because Aplow said that someone else wrote it, and i was just wrong, dammit. we had been on 10+hour days at that point, so i was so out of sorts that i even believed for a minute or two that maybe they were right..
i had some friends go back in and check the database. they called me an hour later and told me that i had in fact written the bug, and gave me the bug number.
i tried to contact Ez to set things straight, but by the time he called me back he just told me it was too late and he had made an example of me in an emergency QA town hall meeting on the subject.
strangely enuff, my bad review for said lead suddenly vanished, as he got some kind of award from what i understand. see, i ripped him a new hole by filling out the sheet with specific examples front and back of the sheet on how he had slacked and taken credit for things he didn't do in order to make himself look like the dilligent employee to his supervisors. in fact, he was probably the slackest lead of the bunch, and rarely took care of his team unless someone happened to be watching him-usually he was playing other games besides the one we were working on. he slowed us down, and took forever to get back to us on questions (the bug i got fired over was a good example). not to mention his favorite passtime, tattle telling on whoever he could find dirt on. now that genius is working in production.
the really shitty part is that i was tied for first place in bug count for the game i was on, and i had been trying to be the perfect soldier so i could make super kewl senior tester, which had just been created about that time...oh, and we had just gotten a raise that kicked in that week.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
From: poe_diddley
2004-12-10 11:07 pm (UTC)

Re: ha! tell your SO to try working as a tester for EA

and when i say they "created a reason", i mean that they could do that for anyone on the floor. i guarantee you that somewhere at some point anyone who's worked in QA at sometime has missed something in their paperwork. 10-12hour days, countless checklists, bickering and fatique can lead to anyone to mis-interpret a question on a checklist the first time they read it. chances are, it won't be the last time you see that checklist, and the following time you might read the question differently and see a problem.

in my case, everyone had concerns over the question i passed. i distinctly remember all of us talking about it. it was a PC game, and the question was concerning registering the product. the register prompt "do you want to register the game now or later" came up BEFORE the game began to install, instead of coming after the install was completed. the question asked if the registration section worked correctly, and actually allowed you to go online and register. it basically read: " At the end of installation, make sure that the registration section functions correctly and allows the user to go online and register the product successfully." Well, the registration worked fine, and we all knew it, as we had tested that even before we recieved the checklist. We all talked about it and asked our super intelligent lead. He initially said that it was fine, and all we had to worry about was whether it worked or not. Before we did the checklist a second time, we found out from ANOTHER lead, that it indeed had to come AFTER installation, so i went to the database, and entered the bug. Then we all failed it on paper. I didn't go back and change the answer like everyone else did on the first revision of the list. But i wrote the bug on the issue, so i figured it was ok, or maybe i just forgot, as it didn't seem to matter since it had been reported to dev, who NEVER actually sees our checklists.
Aplow was our senior lead, and also the boss of my lead, who i wrote the bad review on. We did our annual lead reviews, and i decided to give management an insiders perspective on my lead, since no one seemed to really see his short comings, since he changed up his tune when one of his bosses were around. He slowed us down, and rarely got back to us when we had concerns, like the one i got fired over. So we turned in our review sheets, and Ez left for the day. His office, however, was at that time left unlocked so that Aplow and the other seniors could access it for whatever reason. That night, i saw my lead get called into Ez's office along with another lead by Aplow. Whatever they were talking about, it was a heated conversation that involved my lead, as the arose with Aplow telling him "I told you not to let this be a problem MONTHS ago..." my lead arose with his tail noticeably between his legs.
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From: poe_diddley
2004-12-10 11:08 pm (UTC)

Re: ha! tell your SO to try working as a tester for EA

The following day, i got called into Ez's office for the termination meeting, where Aplow suddenly revealed that the studio who was developing the game we were testing were pissed and it was a big issue, b/c we passed it the first time we did the checklist. (keep in mind now that dev never sees this paperwork, especially since the studio for this game was in California, and we were in Florida). I was stunned, since i remembered writing the bug, and recalled all of us discussing the issue. That didn't matter, and Ez never looked in the database to see if i was lying or not. I personally believe that Aplow was just boldfaced lying, and he figured if he acted like a dick and made it into a big deal that i wouldn't know how to react. That studio probably never called and said shit about that issue, but he did know that if my review of my lead went thru that it would reflect on him, since my lead was under his wing.
I tell you all of this not because i hate EA or anything like that, but because QA has to put up with this shit al the time. QA managment and whoever the senior leads are get reamed over an issue, and they have to pass the buck somehow. What better way to do that than firing someone who is considered temporary? It makes it look like the problem child was eliminated, and upper management gets satisfied for the time being. QA managment is more concerned with their reputation to upper management than it is with it's employees. I'm sure you can see this by the hours, pay, no benefits, and the number of times someone gets canned for something retarded. I KNOW they still do it, as another friend of mine was backed into a corner and given the "if you don't quit we'll try to fire you or you can spend the following year as a senior tester, and we won't make you a lead till god knows when" speach. It's even easier for them to do this now, since some genius decided to have everyone sign that paper that said you could quit or be fired anytime you or they wanted for whatever reason.
This sounds fair doesn't it? It sounds like a great place to work, huh? Don't you want to put in 80 hours a week for these people?
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