From a labour perspective, the game development industry is becoming more and more like the film industry. This isn’t surprising, as they’re on equal footing (that is, big money) in the entertaining marketplace. Kotaku points to an online journal by the spouse of an Electronic Arts employee bemoaning the gaming lifestyle:
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.
This shouldn’t come as any shock to anybody who works in the gaming industry–long hours are the standard. I think the gaming industry should embrace the film industry’s model–long hours and high pay. If that doesn’t appeal, there are plenty of less intenstive ways to make money as an illustrator, animator or programmer.
For my money, there’s something kind of ingenuine that this guy’s partner is writing this piece. Despite their use of the plural ‘us’ and ‘we’ throughout the piece, it’s not as if they’re working seven days a week. Woe is me, my partner works hard and makes lots of money.
While there are a number of interesting comments from fellow workers in the gaming industry, I’d like to see EA wade in there. For example, is their engineer turnover 50%? I sincerely doubt it, but unless they offer comments to the contrary, people will believe it.
UPDATE: Thanks to everyone for their comments. Kotaku has an update on this story, regarding an impending class action lawsuit.
UPDATE #2: Here’s what I’ve been looking for: an apparent first-person account of working for EA: “Many nights working till 4am when we finally had the ok to go home, only to be expected to return by 10am.”
UPDATE #3: This story keeps running and running. Slashdot references a whitepaper that “talks a lot about the culture at EA and could indirectly explain the previous stories covered by Slashdot.” The PDF is currently unavailable, but there’s some interesting (if spiteful) discussion in the comment thread.
UPDATE #4: Brian D. Crecente speaks to one of the lawyers in the EA class action suit.