Games, Code and Game Development
Considering working for EA? Read This!
I assume that there are (or soon will be) engineers/programmers in India that can do the job. They will work these long hours smiling for $12,000 U.S. a year and be proud that they are supporting and uplifting their families. And nothings wrong with that.
Let’s watch and see if and how long it takes to shift game development overseas to India, China, or Russia.
I feel the frustration of the SO who wrote the article, but the authors’ argument might be irrelevant soon…I can’t help but to think this.
Good Luck and God Bless,
Were already shipping art to India for 1/6th the cost of art in the US. Next thing to go will be the coveted programming jobs. I would tell SO to tell your husband to find another side of the business if he wants to stay in it. The Games business in general is poorly managed by egotisical people who could not care less about the people who work for them. It’s the same as all other business, nothing special about it. It’s not a cottage industry anymore. The model that we’ll end up with in the US is the management of global asset creation including programming that will go to the location of least cost. The management’s jobs will be fairly secure as long as they perform but everything else will be outa here. Not cheerful but reality.
You mean there are game companies that aren’t like that? It seems unfair to single out EA, when every game company I’ve worked for has been just like that. To add to the illegal labor practices, let’s add in the fact they don’t want to hire anyone over 37 years old, mostly because of the belief that someone that age is unwilling or unable to work 80 hours a week. As long as there’s a cheap workforce of eager youngsters (who accept the illegal practices, ‘cuz “Hey, I’m making games!”), nothing’s going to change.
And if something forces a change, then the jobs will be sent overseas.
Well, Firaxis is supposedly better at it. I know other companies were promising better, Retro Studios for example and Visual Concepts both told me they were trying to keep do 8 hr days and keep crunch time to a minimum since they were experienced game developers in their mid 30s with families etc. I didn’t work at either of them to see how well they were doing on that.
It’s generally no better here in Japan. Capcom said in Popeye, a japanese magazine, a year ago that “we think it’s fine if you don’t leave the building until the game ships” and they showed pictures of the company gym and company hair salon.
Sega has a room with 12 cots in it for sleeping overnight. Sega also actually tracked overtime and you could take it off later. Of course the pressure not to take it off was pretty high. I saw guys with 180days of accured comp time!!!
Your Sega comment reminds me of an interview I had with the Motley Fool a few years back. They kept emphasizing how their greatest perk was “unlimited” vacation time. After a little digging I found out most people averaged 60-80 hour work weeks and only took 2-3 weeks off per year. I recall one guy saying, “Yeah, I work a lot of hours from home. I’ll eat dinner, watch a little tv, then think, ‘eh, might as well get some work done!’, and log-in.”
Man, this story is taking off. More people posting their stories, other forums with long threads about it (check CG Chanel news, and slashdot games for a sample) and a class action suit is in the works. Maybe change will be forced upon the industry.
After reading more, it seems the problem is more an official policy at EA than the places where I’ve worked, where it just seemed to be incompetent management.
I think it also depends on compensation and if you believe in the game.
The last place I worked crazy hours a few times but at the end of it I got 6-7 weeks off and a giant bonus check a few months later. It was also an extremely fun game to make and play. Also I was working with 2 of my best friends and several other friends as well so even if I had more personal time if they didn’t I’d have been pretty bored. In that case I didn’t mind as much although at some point I’d probably still trade money for personal time.
But, it also depends on what you are working on, your involvement, etc. I probably shouldn’t say this but I quit my last company because they specficially asked me up front to work on a project they wanted done start to finish in 8 months. The things that influenced my decision to leave, (1) I was making less than 1/2 my previous job. (2) it was clearly going to be 8 months of 6-7 day weeks as late nights. (3) the game was going to suck and even if it happened to not suck it would clearly not sell. (4) there would be no bonus at the end even if it some how managed to be a hit.
It turns out not only did they crunch those 8 months to try to get it out but they were 10 months late meaning they had a total crunch time of 18 months. And, like I predicted it bombed. Certainly not something I would have wanted to give up 18 months of my life for.
If on the other hand Nintendo invited me to work on Zelda for the next generation Nintendo TV console I’d consider doing it with or without a reasonable salary or bonus.
Here’s the New York Times coverage of this story.
Oops. Here it is:
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