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Reepoman
12-02-2004, 02:23 PM
I'm glad to see such a big company taking notice of negative internet slurs. Good job folks!

Quote

"We are looking at reclassifying some jobs to overtime eligible in the new Fiscal Year."



Read the responce here

http://news.spong.com/detail/news.asp?prid=8061

bRyaN2003
12-02-2004, 02:25 PM
link is taking me to Microsoft..and i'm using Firefox...

Reepoman
12-02-2004, 02:26 PM
It works now :)

titaniumdave
12-02-2004, 02:49 PM
At first it looked like he was looking for excuses to lay blame. But it is nice to see that they are trying atleast on the surface only time will tell.

bentllama
12-02-2004, 03:59 PM
this can be one of two things...

1. a company wide memo to take heat off the situation while little to nothing is done over the course of a long period of time
2. a company wide memo to sincerely take action towards the situation while little to nothing is done over the course of a long period of time

with EA's track record and public and insider image, my vote is on the first item...but, it takes one company to drive change...prove us wrong EA...prove us wrong...

unchikun
12-02-2004, 04:25 PM
Great to see EA make some changes, unfortunately they are doing so after being threatened by a class action lawsuit.

From my experience artists have no problems working extremely hard, they get undermined by the decisions of supervisors and poor production management. Having to redo work over and over again due to bad planning can really take a toll on motivation.

It always amazed me that if you ran a "real" company like some of these game companies, they would go under in a heartbeat. I think the game industry will have to get more efficient and publishers get stricter on deadlines. As games and platforms gets more technical I don't see how you can continue to have longer and longer development cycles of 3-5+ years. For example at the current rate Halo3 will be an Xbox*3* launch title!.... maybe ;)

cookepuss
12-02-2004, 04:43 PM
Don't believe it. This sounds like spin to me. Look at the phrasing. ... "overtime eligible" ... Watch them deem quite a few people ineligible. They're setting the standards. It happens all of the time. If EA paid everybody as they should then they'd lose quite a bit of money. I think that the courts should decide instead of EA. They're not exactly impartial after all.

MikeRhone
12-02-2004, 04:59 PM
Very well written response. I will bet you flat out that Rusty's letter was written with a whole team of PR people. No HR people would pull off a letter like that.

I agree with Bents comments. Personally I don't forsee change unless thier hand is forced and the pressure stays on. The funny thing, is that the bad PR seems to only be getting out to the industry level people. I watch the EA stock regularly, and I haven't seen anything about the blogs, lawsuit or bad publicity on any of the stockwatch websites.

Before all this I was weary of EA as Im sure many of us secretly were. For the time being, I am happy not to be on the inside.

Best of luck to all the EA employees here.

leuey
12-02-2004, 05:23 PM
**Rant Warning** - I'm pissed.

Man, I just read that load of crap.

I love this line

"We consider our artists to be “creative” people and our engineers to be “skilled” professionals who relish flexibility but others use the outdated wage and hour laws to argue in favor of a workforce that is paid hourly like more traditional industries and conforming to set schedules. But we can’t wait for the legislative process to catch up so we’re forced to look at making some changes to exempt and non-exempt classifications beginning in April."

That's a deliberate use of language in an attempt to say they were conforming to current laws and shift blame to CA law (the law refers to 'creative' and 'skilled' jobs) - essentially trying to make the arguement that a Maya animator is equivalent to a guy with a paintbrush and undeserving of eligibility for overtime pay (that's not entirely accurate, but in a nutshell). I gurantee that a number of lawyers went over that email before it was sent (I happen to be married to a corporate lawyer and have 2 friends who are attourneys for EA - not the kind that would approve this email - but I know the implications..)

Yes, of course it's CA's "outdated" laws that led EA to become famous for absurd *mandatory* work hours (I love how he says the workers "relish flexibility". Mandatory 9 to 10 a full 7 days a week is soooo flexible).

EA isn't overworking and undercompensating employees b/c CA has inadequate laws - they're doing it b/c they thought they could get away with it. CA laws work quite well for about 5,000 other tech companies....

The fact is that EA took advantage of an employers market and treated it's workforce like an expendible resource. I've worked for EA a number of times (on game openers). And have a number of friends over there right now. I am utterly and completely disgusted by their treatment of employees.

First - the lawsuit isn't going away, nor should it. It's not about EA reclassifying jobs for *overtime eligible* in the future. Most of these jobs already are and they've been breaking the law. The lawsuit is about getting paid for work already done - not the possibility of getting paid for working 80 hours a week in the future (he never addresses the crushing hours other than some vague 'it's not our fault' line of reasoning.)

EA is famous for destroying families. Let me repeat that. EA is famous for destroying families. IMO, that is just about the worst thing you can say about a company. EA has been keeping their mouth shut about the blogs b/c they are being sued. The email was a pathetic attempt at making some kind of statement without implicating themselves.

I could rant all day about this - but I'll finish with this thought. I know a lot of you younger guys think "Hey, I'd work 80 hours a week just for an opportunity to get into this business". You have to consider this - you will get older. You will have a family someday. You will have other obligations besides work. You will come to appreciate that your skills and time are worth something more that just being employed at any cost. You have to consider "What will I be doing when I'm 50?" I've been there. I've been animating for about 10 years and I've done the 80 hour a week thing. It doesn't work. Your eyes and wrists can't take it. No matter how much you love animating you will come to loath it.

That being said I know that nobody will listen. EA is taking advantage of this situation and our industry is suffering for it. I'm not very positive about where this is going. My feeling is that if the U.S. market refuses to be abused then EA will find an outsource market to abuse.

**Rant off**

best,

Greg

Reepoman
12-02-2004, 05:32 PM
Yup, you are right leuey, good rant. I guess the outcome will be one of two things,

1. EA will win in the end.

2. EA will win in the end.

take your pick :shrug:

danydrunk
12-02-2004, 06:06 PM
Yup, you are right leuey, good rant. I guess the outcome will be one of two things,

1. EA will win in the end.

2. EA will win in the end.

take your pick :shrug:

with that attitude they are sure going to win. If we continue to make pressure something positive might happen. But do not loose faith in something that you believe is totally wrong.

mummey
12-02-2004, 06:14 PM
Before all this I was weary of EA as Im sure many of us secretly were. For the time being, I am happy not to be on the inside.

Best of luck to all the EA employees here. Anyone who knew someone in the industry also knew this was going on. I think we're just relieved that it made its way into the public.

I only hope this will make college grads hesitate before accpeting any terms that companies like this are offering them.

worker_bee
12-02-2004, 07:08 PM
I agree with lueuy and cookepuss. This is just EA spin. This has been commin practice in games for years and wont change till they loose in court. I have alot of friends who worked there recenlty when they were forced or strongly urged to work almost 80hrs a week. Even durring Siggraph I called my friend there to ask him if he was goin to the EA siggraph party and he said where is it. I said right there at EA. So while EA was partying it up to tryin to recruit new people downstairs. Upstairs people were working 80hr weeks. Nice how they did that right in front of them.

The California laws have always been in place to keep things like this from happening, so for EA to say what they are saying now is just BS. They are just trying to get away with anythng they can.

Neil
12-02-2004, 07:22 PM
I know a lot of you younger guys think "Hey, I'd work 80 hours a week just for an opportunity to get into this business". You have to consider this - you will get older.

I agree with pretty much all you said, but I guess I question this statement. Isn't that the point of getting older; that you are supposed to "move on"?
I pity any 60 year old man/woman that is still sitting around and painting textures or making NPCs. I would hope that by then you would have enough experience to move-up the ladder, or leave the company and start your own, or work in a similar field with different hours and pay...etc. The options are endless.

Someone on the spong board replied with:
"I can't think of anyone that likes EA at the moment. I get the feeling that consumers are beginning to lose confidence in them too."

There might be some truth to that. I'm more cynical than the general public, but I am pretty frustrated with EA. I guess I don't care as much for them because I don't care for sports games and that's their jem market. BF1942 was cool, but seems like it could have used some more polishing. Overall as Rusty said, EA is large. Very large. Does the gaming market work with companies this big? I like companies that take their time and don't just hollywood-ize themselves by cranking out worthless sequels as fast as they can just to make cash. Granted it's hard to not do that, but when you need to pay 5000 employees, you have to. That's why you should remain small. I would like to know the employee count of id and Blizzard, I'm unaware of theirs.

FloydBishop
12-02-2004, 07:23 PM
This has been all over the web like a bad rash, but has it made it to television? Why hasn't CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, or Fox reported on any of this? The industry is a huge one. You would think this would be more of a story.

Maybe someone reading this with contacts at a news organization could make some story suggestions?

slaughters
12-02-2004, 07:51 PM
I agree with Floyd. The major news media outlets are showing their bias here.

I feel news directors think, "Hmm... a bunch of middle class rich kids have to work harder than they thought they would. Where's the story in that? Kids these days do nothing but whine. Instead, let's do another in-depth story on Paris Hilton!"

SheepFactory
12-02-2004, 07:55 PM
Agreed ,

I think local newspapers like the guardian or SF weekly should pick up the story and do a frontpage on this. Would be a nice stepping stone to national media.

Neil
12-02-2004, 08:03 PM
Working in newspaper let me say this. It will probably show up in the paper, but under some technology or business section. I HIGHLY doubt it would make front page anywhere. It's a big deal to "us" but not to many others. Notice how stuff doesn't show up in the paper until it's already "been" news? Once they go to court or whatever or after a decision is made, then they will recap the situation.
The internet is not a credible source for reports. Reporters get reemed to show proof and editors need to make sure everything printed is credible. I don't think leaked reports would be credited, because it doesn't make you look very professional. We still have to show people in the newsroom how to even use a computer. Can you believe that? They still ike to do pen and paper and phone interviews. It'd old school man. The whole business is. The people who regularly read newspapers are like 40+. Young people just read internet sites and don't buy newspapers. They are unaware of how to target the younger audience.

Artbot
12-02-2004, 08:13 PM
I agree with pretty much all you said, but I guess I question this statement. Isn't that the point of getting older; that you are supposed to "move on"?
I pity any 60 year old man/woman that is still sitting around and painting textures or making NPCs. I would hope that by then you would have enough experience to move-up the ladder, or leave the company and start your own, or work in a similar field with different hours and pay...etc. The options are endless.You're joking, right? Why would someone with 10 or 20 years experience in the games industry suddenly decide to "move on?" Sure, some will, just as they might from any profession, but why are you setting a mandate for it? I know of artists in their 40s, 50s and 60s, both in games and film fx companies, who love what they do and are good at it and want to keep doing it. These people are supposed to just hang it up at a certain age, like in "Logan's Run?" I wish I had a time machine so I could fast-forward your words to your own sorry 60 year old ass flipping burgers for minimum wage, just so you can see how ridiculous you sound.

Oh, and everything leuey said.

Stonepilot
12-02-2004, 11:02 PM
This is what it sounds to me...... blah,blah,blah,blah,......blah,.......blah........blah.......

Now I'm sure there's a bunch of nice people at EA that are genuinely concern about their employees. I just wish that management would listen to them. Its not just one guy making noise and trying to get some attention.

Kion
12-02-2004, 11:23 PM
A fellow co-worker put it best as "This letter is a corporate version of the abusive pimp asking his hoes to stay because the pimp's 'gonna change'."

danielh68
12-02-2004, 11:37 PM
I wish I had a time machine so I could fast-forward your words to your own sorry 60 year old ass flipping burgers for minimum wage, just so you can see how ridiculous you sound.
This letter is a corporate version of the abusive pimp asking his hoes to stay because the pimp's 'gonna change'."


How true. Brilliant creative examples, too.

FloydBishop
12-02-2004, 11:49 PM
Agreed ,

I think local newspapers like the guardian or SF weekly should pick up the story and do a frontpage on this. Would be a nice stepping stone to national media.
Do you know if there are any places online that one could submit a story idea? Maybe we could all email them?

I talked to someone in San Diego's NBC station last week, and he told me that they probably wouldn't cover it, as EA isn't located here.

SheepFactory
12-02-2004, 11:59 PM
here:

http://www.sfweekly.com/

http://www.sfbg.com/

danielh68
12-03-2004, 12:01 AM
Floyd,

If you want to get this to as many eyes as possible, submit it to Matt Drudge.

MikeRhone
12-03-2004, 12:45 AM
Or Michael Moore

bentllama
12-03-2004, 12:45 AM
Anyone who knew someone in the industry also knew this was going on. I think we're just relieved that it made its way into the public.
yes, quite true.

whenever one company harms another everyone feels the rift.

one major gaming bitching forum is www.fatbabies.com (http://www.fatbabies.com)

It is not just EA getting laced for this with gossip and watercooler rhetoric - but I am too much of a gentlemen and too respectful of my peers to name names publicly...at least for now.

NSXbomb
12-03-2004, 12:54 AM
You have to be careful with global news media spinning that by making you look like overpaid sports atheletes, or movie stars...

While I know we're a slave work force, the average game buy who dreams of making games for a living will no doubt view the topic as whinning.

There could be backlash as there always is when it revolves around money. You have to remember that the pirated industry is there already because people feel like games are overpriced (please don't start a long debate on pirating)

I just think that this is an internal problem best solved internally (even if it takes outside legal action)

The good thing is, within the game biz, companies are talking about it now and many companies may make a good move in the right direction before legal action is being taken.

I know this because some friends of mine work for a company and they are looking into what to do about it.

It could be that they swap overtime for end product royalties or visaversa based on your choice... that is... if your company offers royalties...

Reepoman
12-03-2004, 09:24 AM
It could be that they swap overtime for end product royalties or visaversa based on your choice... that is... if your company offers royalties... Where I work in the UK we get paid not overtime but a flat rate per hr accross the board, same amount for everyone for hrs work outside normal 37.5 hr week. Maximum 25hrs a week allowed, because the company doesn't want people to burn out. This doesn't affect any bouns shcemes in place or royalties. The company thinks people should be rewarded for what they put into the company. With this extra flat rate there is a lot of extra money to be made for the employees per month. We are all very happy with it because I personally think I am lucky to work for a games company who looks after there own. Also there are about 90 + of us so we are not a litte company nor a huge one at that. I think this is a way forward for games companies.

halo
12-03-2004, 09:36 AM
is fatbabies that alive still?...practically in its death throws last time i visited.

halo
12-03-2004, 09:47 AM
btw i know a company in the UK that offered royalties/bonus's for OT....first they moved the games perfomance goalposts, so it now needed 9/10 to qualify (unlikely considering)...then they said it would only go to the top 25% of people who had worked, which was nice considering most people had amassed 500-1000 hours at least and some had been brought onto the project later than hours but had been encouraged to do more OT for the bonus...then the last straw was to sack everyone when the project was finished. Out of the people that weren't sacked, NONE of them recieved any bonus, the issue dragging on.

The old team survivors were moved onto a new team...and that was in full blown crunch mode...my source was sacked about 2 months after that (because he wouldnt work over 80 hours a week)...no bonus...the game slipped by 2 YEARS!...and every day was spent in crunch mode.

Still they advertise for new staff (which is against employment rule within 6 months of redundancies), they use a shiteload of warez having a server setup specifically for itl...sad that they are a supposedly professional multisite UK developer...they're treatment of staff is so bad that no reputable agency will touch them and they pay people £100's to find people to work from them fresh from the colleges.

axxxj
12-03-2004, 09:58 AM
Hey halo i would sure like to now which company you are talking about as i'm about to start applying for jobs soon at many uk game companies. Just PM me if you don't want to be posting this stuff on a open forum.

Cheers

AJ

Prs-Phil
12-03-2004, 01:32 PM
yes me to please, I´ll probably have to apply for a job soon and I´ll be applying to UK gamedevs to :)

thx

SOPLAND
12-03-2004, 03:19 PM
is fatbabies that alive still?...practically in its death throws last time i visited.
It's been all but dead for like 3 years now, since it was overrun by wannabes and kids.

Neil
12-03-2004, 04:12 PM
You're joking, right? Why would someone with 10 or 20 years experience in the games industry suddenly decide to "move on?"

Uh when you go to another job, you don't LOSE all your experience. When you "move on" that can mean moving up or switching fields or doing anything. It does't mean quit and be a Walmart greeter! Clearly you figured me out, I planned on flipping burgers starting next year and hopefully McDonalds has a nice retirement package after I put my 50 years in with them.

When we go in this trip together in your time machine, I will give you a permission slip to shoot me if we find out that I'm still working 80 our weeks at the age of 60. Deal? My point is that the first job or two you take in life are not meant to be gold. You take grind jobs inorder to get experience. So if start with a grind job at 20 and you haven't done anything to advance/change your career in 40 years, then I do pity you.

richcz3
12-03-2004, 04:29 PM
Before this email came out in fact before this Blog incident came to be, there was already an internal move at EA to hire more kids directly out of college. Someone posted an HR directive here on CGTalk some weeks back. Essentially there is a willing work force which can be hired on less than that of the current crop. Younger people don't know what is impossible. Look for schools to offer Job placement at EA and that pretty much solves part of the initial expense.

Artbot
12-03-2004, 06:59 PM
Uh when you go to another job, you don't LOSE all your experience. When you "move on" that can mean moving up or switching fields or doing anything. It does't mean quit and be a Walmart greeter! Clearly you figured me out, I planned on flipping burgers starting next year and hopefully McDonalds has a nice retirement package after I put my 50 years in with them.

When we go in this trip together in your time machine, I will give you a permission slip to shoot me if we find out that I'm still working 80 our weeks at the age of 60. Deal? My point is that the first job or two you take in life are not meant to be gold. You take grind jobs inorder to get experience. So if start with a grind job at 20 and you haven't done anything to advance/change your career in 40 years, then I do pity you.
I see your point, and I didn't mean to be harsh. My point is that there are a lot of people in this field who like it where they are and there's no shame in that. There's a lot of pressure in the USA work force to constantly be "trading up", always trying to get to the next level of responsibility, and of course, income. The fact is, not everyone wants to, or should, become a manager or lead or head designer or whatever. Many of us train our whole lives to be artists and that is what we love doing - the art. Some of us get off on the ego trip of being a lead just for power's sake, and if they prefer that and are good at it, more power to 'em.

Luckily, many companies now offer positions where veteran workers can stay in a position where they work best, but also get a salary based on their skills, experience or seniority. I know this because one of those people was me at my last job. I could have been a lead, and was at one time, but I prefer to actually do the work, not push numbers around a spreadsheet and figure out budgets for the art dept.

And I think we can figure out more constructive uses for our time machine.

noxy
12-03-2004, 07:08 PM
I was visiting family in Palo Alto over Thanksgiving holiday and it was front page on the local paper, but it was mostly a human interest case rather than investigative reporting, describing how much work the average game artist had to work. Best of luck to them, these sort of high-profile cases really set a precedent for the rest of the industry.

Noxy

Thalaxis
12-03-2004, 09:31 PM
As much as I don’t like what’s been said about our company and our industry, I recognize that at the heart of the matter is a core truth: the work is getting harder, the tasks are more complex and the hours needed to accomplish them have become a burden. We haven’t yet cracked the code on how to fully minimize the crunches in the development and production process.

Translation: we're incomptetent.

Go look up the software engineering process... it's a LOT easier than this quote makes it out to be. It
just requires discipline and management that isn't utterly incompetent.

mummey
12-04-2004, 02:22 AM
Translation: we're incomptetent.

Go look up the software engineering process... it's a LOT easier than this quote makes it out to be. It
just requires discipline and management that isn't utterly incompetent.
I wouldn't say they are incompetent; I would argue that they misarranged their priorities. For example, why spend the time and money on being sure the project is on schedule when you could spend it recording celebrity voices few people will recognize!?! :shrug:

Thalaxis
12-04-2004, 02:35 AM
I wouldn't say they are incompetent; I would argue that they misarranged their priorities. For example, why spend the time and money on being sure the project is on schedule when you could spend it recording celebrity voices few people will recognize!?! :shrug:
Look at the section I quoted. It's basically saying that "we're too stupid to avoid crunches."
It has nothing to do with priorities, it has everything to do with crappy planning and dumbass
management. I've worked for people who think like that section I quoted. The crunch didn't
result from having a challenging project (it was a challenging project -- it had to handle
regisration and billing for and entire domain worldwide, which was potentially a LOT of hits
per day, and it had to be reliable, etc...), it resulted from the management's atrociously bad
planning, and their attitude that throwing a lot of people at it and forcing them to work long
hours was the only way to get the job done.

markw7
12-04-2004, 02:41 AM
Working in newspaper let me say this. It will probably show up in the paper, but under some technology or business section.

It's already been in the New York Times Circuits section, around November 7th or 8th.

Hugh-Jass
12-04-2004, 03:20 AM
story has ran in the nytimes, contracosta times, Sj mercury, la times....

This letter from EA is meaningless...remember actions speak louder than words.

And while it states they have the best people they neglect to mention the best people being overseen by the worst people... the top level execs are directly driving the BS that goes on there.

xynaria
12-04-2004, 03:54 AM
Nice to see 'Rusty' in psuedo contrite mode innit....I mean we should feel sympathy for a guy so overworked that for years he never managed to see that they had production problems and that the staff were dissastisfied and felt abused. So overworked in fact was human resources (sic) that the possibilty that they were abusing their staff didn't have any entry into their coporate heads..it just 'kind of happened' but of course maybe they were distratcted in thinking up ways to financially compensate all those that had helped EA achieve its consitently high sales and I guess that is a tough task because it appears it is still being figured out................................................

mummey
12-04-2004, 01:41 PM
Look at the section I quoted. It's basically saying that "we're too stupid to avoid crunches."
It has nothing to do with priorities, it has everything to do with crappy planning and dumbass
management. I've worked for people who think like that section I quoted. The crunch didn't
result from having a challenging project (it was a challenging project -- it had to handle
regisration and billing for and entire domain worldwide, which was potentially a LOT of hits
per day, and it had to be reliable, etc...), it resulted from the management's atrociously bad
planning, and their attitude that throwing a lot of people at it and forcing them to work long
hours was the only way to get the job done.
I wasn't necessarily disagreeing with ya. I was just adding that perhaps if they put more funding into development and less into celebrity vioces and licensing, perhaps they wouldn't have these issues.

Neil
12-04-2004, 04:35 PM
And I think we can figure out more constructive uses for our time machine.

Haha, I agree ;)

leuey
12-04-2004, 06:21 PM
Unfortunately Thalaxis it wasn't simple incompetence. That's what they'd like you to believe. If it were only that it would be forgivable. If you read some of the blogs/articles you will see that EA deliberately set up their schedules with the intention of working people 60 - 80 hours a week, and they did the legal research and work to believe they could get away with it. That's what's so disgusting about this issue.

-Greg

Look at the section I quoted. It's basically saying that "we're too stupid to avoid crunches."
It has nothing to do with priorities, it has everything to do with crappy planning and dumbass
management. I've worked for people who think like that section I quoted. The crunch didn't
result from having a challenging project (it was a challenging project -- it had to handle
regisration and billing for and entire domain worldwide, which was potentially a LOT of hits
per day, and it had to be reliable, etc...), it resulted from the management's atrociously bad
planning, and their attitude that throwing a lot of people at it and forcing them to work long
hours was the only way to get the job done.

Leebre
12-07-2004, 05:02 PM
I don't see that anyone has mentioned this update:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4206253

Power to the people! Viva la revolution!

Thalaxis
12-07-2004, 05:08 PM
I heard that report on the way to work this morning. I'm glad it's getting some airtime!

mrZack
12-07-2004, 05:12 PM
i have been dissapointed year after year with their stupid nba live titles. challenge everything my ass. it's not in the game.
if you're gonna work your employees like a dog, at least churn out a decent game for godsake.

unchikun
12-07-2004, 07:39 PM
Thats a great broadcast from NPR. If anything I would say programmers probably work even harder than the artists, if thats imaginable, then human error starts to creep into the programming which affects the art and snowballs from there.

I really think that a game company can still keep full game content, meet deadlines AND prevent burnout if the production was well managed from the beginning, especially with a company with resources like EA.

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