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EA Spouse Outed 104

Posted by Zonk
from the hope-someone-still-has-their-job dept.
patio11 writes "EA Spouse, who sparked a revolution (or, at least, a wave of lawsuits and promises for improvement) in the game development industry with a blog post decrying labor practices at Electronics Arts, was outed as Erin Hoffman in a Mercury News article. She and then-fiance, now-husband Leander Hasty were plaintiffs in one of the lawsuits against EA and continue to develop games and be activists for better working conditions for game developers." From the article: "More than a year later, game developers have won settlements in three class-action lawsuits alleging EA created exhausting work schedules without paying overtime and successfully pressed employers to ease unrelenting workloads. And EA Spouse, whose true identity has been cloaked until now, is becoming a voice against America's culture of overwork."
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EA Spouse Outed

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  • by cliffski (65094) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @09:42AM (#15211612) Homepage
    Whats interesting here is the guy used to work at taldren, who as I recall made Starfleet Command, and then went to work on Battle For Middle earth for EA.
    SFC was seriously good, and BFME sucked big ones. So it seems clear even if it was not already obvious that working people to death WILL result in substandard dross games, even if they obviously have the talent.
    Sadly BFME probably made mroe money, so the suits at EA who probably dont even like games dont give a damn.
    Thank god I left that stupid industry to work as an indie.
  • by GundamFan (848341) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @09:52AM (#15211692)
    Sleep deprived cranky game developers can't possibly be very creative, can they?

    Also unrealistic deadlines have a negitave effect on creativity.
    EA is a victim of it's size... they have a huge pressure to be sucessfull so huge in fact that they lose sight of what really makes games (and all art) great.

    Great inventive games do not always sell a lot of copies and that is the real crime here... EA wouldn't make crap if people didn't buy crap and then complain about it (but not return it because the big chains have made quality of product not a reason for a refund... but that is a diffrent rant.)

    Demand quality and don't settle for buggy incomplete games and this "problem" of overworked developers might just solve itself... or at least save gameing from a slow painfull death.
    • Not to speak in favor of overworking game developers, but I have to disagree on one point; Ridiculous deadlines have always Dramatically increased my creativity in figuring out how to meet them...
      • I thought about that while I was typing my message here is what I think... I think there are two types of creativity here the ability to do great things with small resources, or the ablity to freely create. When being icreative in the first way I think most people think "how can I accomplish my goals with what I have" and "what goals can I change to meet my situation". With more free creativity you end up with less compromising over goals but also less progress over time. What really is needed is a good b
    • More likely it is stupid management, who at the same time don't treat their employees well, and make stupid decisions about what to design and spend time on.
      • You know I don't think I would be so quick to call EA's managment stupid they are after all one of the biggest recreational software publishing houses on the planet right now and that does not happen through shear dumb luck.

        What they are doing is second guessing themselves and relying on focus groups to do there thinking and that is a huge mistake, "market testing" seems to be yealding fewer and fewer hits lately and I don't think the answer to that is more market testing.
        • EA is not the same company it was when it started. EA got big back when it had different management and it was treating it's programmers like rockstars. I can tell you who Dan Bunten and Paul Reiche III are. Heck, their pictures were on the box covers. I can't tell you who the current anonymous drones grimly pushing out mostly mediocre titles on their permanent deathmarches are.

          After it got big, it stayed big for a while, and then at some point things changed. That would be in the 90's when Madden st

    • Sleep deprived cranky game developers can't possibly be very creative, can they?

      Nah, artists always work best when they're coddled, fat, and happy. Oh, wait ...

      Just kidding, although I do think that sometimes a deadline is the kick in the pants that's sometimes needed for people to produce their best work, there's no excuse to just abuse your people continually. You can only maintain that kind of increased tempo for a certain amount of time, before it just becomes fatiguing and output quality is going to dr
  • Right on! (Score:5, Funny)

    by MyLongNickName (822545) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @10:01AM (#15211765) Journal
    ...has been cloaked until now, is becoming a voice against America's culture of overwork....

    I, for one, am tired of this culture of overwork in America. Occassionally I have to close my browser and answer a phone call. This is intruding into my social life entirely too much.
  • by 192939495969798999 (58312) <info@@@devinmoore...com> on Thursday April 27, 2006 @10:05AM (#15211797) Homepage Journal
    It shouldnt be a surprise that if you want people to work longer than a 40-hour week but you don't pay them for overtime, that you will get an inferior result. What exactly is the employee's motivation other than termination? That's like a prison mentality, 'either break these rocks or we beat the crap out of you. Once you're done breaking the rocks, we'll beat the crap out of you.' Not much to look forward to except a delay of additional punishment in terms of more longer hours in the future.

    Eventually people will favor creativity, and people like me will 'herd the cats' and make some sweet games. Until then, have fun with John Madden 20XX!
    • What exactly is the employee's motivation other than termination?

      Making cool games. Fitting in with the team. The threat of termination is not really a factor. There's possibly a perception that this is the case but it's typically never threatened, and rarely even hinted at.

      The problem is, when you're told the rest of the team is working late, so you should too, it puts you into an awkward position. Generally you quite like these guys. You don't want them to suffer. In addition, you do want to
    • Wheres my "Mod Optomistic" ????

      From parent

      "Until then, have fun with John Madden 20XX"

      Shouldn't that read

      "Until then, have fun with John Madden 2XXX" at the very least? :)
    • by creimer (824291) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @12:13PM (#15213042) Homepage
      When I was working at Atari, the QA supervisors would tell the testers that if they didn't like their work conditions, they can go work for Taco Bell down the street. They stopped saying that when it became obvious that Taco Bell does have better working conditions at a slightly higher pay rate that some of the entry-level testers were making. They started losing senior people when Sony was paying $20/hr instead of $16/hr. Go figure.
    • Given EA's ability to drive a franchise into the ground, squeeze blood from a rock, etc, I think you really meant "John Madden 2XXX".
    • It shouldnt be a surprise that if you want people to work longer than a 40-hour week but you don't pay them for overtime

      Personally I think that if you don't control how many hours a week you put in, then you are automatically an hourly employee. That would solve all these abuse problems. Only after you stop 'offshoring' though.
  • Another [slashdot.org] frickin' EA story? ... Time to move on!
  • entitlement (Score:3, Insightful)

    by JavaLord (680960) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @10:19AM (#15211917) Journal
    is becoming a voice against America's culture of overwork."

    As opposed to the culture of entitlement in most european countries?
    • Yeah... nether is perfect but one produces tangeble results for a company at much less cost... I wonde why the corperations favor it?
    • I see this a lot. Just exactly what is wrong with acknowledging that there are some things people are entitled to? Like reasonable work hours?
      • The only thing anyone is entitled to in this world is an ass-kicking from Ricky Kang. Everything else is a privilege.

        -Eric

      • Re:entitlement (Score:2, Interesting)

        by tweek (18111)
        Explain why you are "entitled" to reasonable work hours? You aren't even "entitled" to a job. There is nothing, at least in the U.S. Constitution, that says you are entitled to a job. A job is a contract. You are free to negotiate the terms of that contract. You are also free to find another job if you no longer like the terms of that contract. Furthermore, define reasonable. Is it reasonable to work a 14 hour day because a server has crashed and must be up again by tomorrow or the company loses millions? T
        • You aren't even "entitled" to a job. There is nothing, at least in the U.S. Constitution, that says you are entitled to a job.

          I didn't say you were entitled to a job. I said that being employed by a company doesn't give them the right to exploit you, one form of which could be making you work unreasonable hours.

          A job is a contract. You are free to negotiate the terms of that contract.

          There are certain rights you can't sign away.

          Furthermore, define reasonable.

          I don't have to. It's a represe

          • I didn't say you were entitled to a job. I said that being employed by a company doesn't give them the right to exploit you, one form of which could be making you work unreasonable hours.

            Is being on-call considered unreasonable? I'm a salaried employee but I'm on call and don't get additional compensation for it. Some people would consider it unreasonable to be woken up at 4AM with an emergency.

            There are certain rights you can't sign away.

            No argument there. Those are the ones that are inalienable. I find it
        • Ah - it's the old Laissez faire copitalist employer argument.

          However, in the civilised world, we expect people to behave with decency and civility rather than using the difference in negotiating positions to force the employee to accept some fairly draconian positions. Since such civilised behaviour is unfortunately wishful thinking, we enact laws to prevent employees from being exploited in this way.
          • Ah - it's the old Laissez faire...

            I make no pretenses about my politics =)

            I honestly believe that the federal government should stick to its constitutionally defined role. The problem is, and I'll be the first to admit this, everyone has a different interpretation of what is defined as "the common good".

            Interestingly enough, I would think many "slashdotters" would agree with the whole idea. I mean we bitch and moan when someone lumps all gamers together or all linux people together or all people together.

            B

    • Yeah, except that Europeans tend to be more productive per hour than Americans. Our only saving grace keeping us ahead in the per-year game is the number of hours we put in, but it's been suggested that the lengthy hours are actually hurting our per-hour productivity.
      • Re:entitlement (Score:4, Interesting)

        by corbettw (214229) <corbettw@@@yahoo...com> on Thursday April 27, 2006 @12:38PM (#15213327) Journal
        Yeah, except that Europeans tend to be more productive per hour than Americans.

        Really? According to the CIA World Fact Book, the US has a GDP of $12,410,000,000,000, compared to Europe's $12,180,000,000,000 (all figures in US dollars). Contrast that with Europe's population of 456,953,258 against the US's 298,444,215. That gives the us a per capital product of $41,582.31 against Europe's $26,654.81. So far it looks like the US is more productive.

        Let's look closer. The European Union has a labor force of 218,500,000, compared to the US's 149,300,000. Leaving out the unemployment rates for each group (9.4% vs. 5.1%), we're left with 197,961,000 workers in Europe compared to 141,685,700 in the US. We'll leave that for a moment.

        According to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Workweek [wikipedia.org], which sites a spreadsheet from OECD, workers in the US work an average of 1777 hours per year. Taking the average of the EU member states (the spreadsheet only lists individual countries), we get 1576.33 hours per year.

        So, the US has a total of 251,775,488,900 work-hours per year, giving an average of $49.29 gross product per work hour. Europe has 312,051,863,130 work-hours per year, giving an average of $39.03 per work hour.

        I'm sorry, who's more productive did you say?
        • Re:entitlement (Score:3, Informative)

          by sesshomaru (173381)

          "Euroland's underlying economic performance is better than many commentators portray. Over the past decade, GDP per head has risen virtually at the same rate in euroland as the United States; euroland productivity growth (output per hour) and the rise in the employment rates were slightly faster than in the United States; and to maintain the same growth in GDP per head, U.S. workers have had to work much longer hours than their euroland counterparts." -- Kevin Daly, Goldman Sachs, January 2004

          • Unfortunately, I don't have the time to look into the growth rates of the respective countries. But with the US having a 26% lead on productivity, it'll be some time before Europe is able to compete in any meaningful way. I'd also be interested in how many new businesses (net) each locale creates each year. My gut says the US creates more, but I have no idea how many more.
            • Re:entitlement (Score:3, Informative)

              by sesshomaru (173381)

              The Conference Board, a respected US business pressure group, estimated this downward adjustment shaves 1.5% off the consumer price index every year and therefore reduces its inflation rate by that amount. But the inflation rate is deducted from the nominal gross domestic product numbers to give the real increase in GDP. If the inflation rate is understated by 1.5% compared with how other countries measure the same data, it follows that America's growth rate is claimed to be 1.5% higher than it is in re

        • Re:entitlement (Score:3, Interesting)

          by ggwood (70369)
          I've heard other (European? Japanese?) workers are more productive per hour then America's so often that it's sort of become an ingrained assumption for me. However, I find your numbers persuasive. I think the difference is that your numbers are for the whole economy and specific studies are done in, say, the auto industry or something.

          If both you and the studies I've heard are correct, it would seem Americans choose to work in more productive fields, on average.

          I'm not an economist - but the people I've
        • Wow, I just realised that the people around me must be the most prductive in the world! They are all sitting around doing nothing, but the company is making money, so they are worth an infinite amount of money (Profit / hours *working* = infinity).

          I feel so privilaged.

  • She and then-fiance, now-husband

    So doesn't that mean that, at the time, EA Spouse was in fact not a spouse?

  • I'm not so sure (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Malakusen (961638)
    And EA Spouse, whose true identity has been cloaked until now, is becoming a voice against America's culture of overwork." Does America really have a culture of overwork, compared to other countries? Sure, we may work harder then Brazil or France or something, but India, China, Japan, Korea, alot of places like that are kicking our ass because we tend towards laziness.
    • ...India, China, Japan, Korea, alot of places like that are kicking our ass because we tend towards laziness.

      I don't believe Japan has kicked our ass (in the automotive and electronics industries) due to our laziness. They kick our ass because they embrace and extend...they didn't invent the automobile, but they sure as heck figured out how to make a higher quality, more reliable version for about the same price or only slightly more than the USian model.

      China isn't kicking our ass because we're lazy.

      • I'm thinking more in terms of how more and more jobs are leaving the country because the worker base in other countries is smarter and the companies have to spend less on education. Ref this artivle: http://www.cbc.ca/cp/business/050630/b0630102.html [www.cbc.ca]

        It talks about how Toyota turned down offers from several American states and instead built a plant in Ontario because "Ontario workers are well-trained."

        From the article, "The level of the workforce in general is so high that the training program you need
  • ...a voice against America's culture of overwork.

    In other words, a voice working hard to make sure we're as much like Europe--with half the productivity and none of the job growth of the U.S.A.

    You don't wanna work lots of hours, then go get a job where you don't have to work lots of hours.

    Sheesh.

  • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @06:36PM (#15216588) Journal
    It is their way of life. Are they right? Well it all depends on what you use as measurement and how you measure it.

    Some very silly people use money as a measurement forgetting totally that money does not have the same value. 1 dollar in say New York has a totally different value then 1 dollar in say Greece. Hell everyone knows this is even true in far small areas like say New York vs Hicksville.

    So any comparison between the money produced by either economy is silly. Even more if you realise that even in europe working hour practices are different. The brits for instance lean far more to american working hours.

    So who is right?

    Funny thing but one of those wise lessons from american sitcoms/dramas is that nobody on their death bed ever regretted not having spend more time in the office.

    If you do not live to work then surely the only sensible number of hours to work is the amount you need to be able to afford to live right?

    So how much do you need to live? This can get very funny. It starts simple. Cheap supermarkets are open from 8 to 8 in Holland. (Can't say for the rest of the world so don't attack me for that). There are a few that stay open later but they typically charge more and only carry the brand names (wich are more expensive) and don't have sales. The cheapest places to get food however is the market wich opens officially at 8 but is usually closing as early as 16:00.

    So now you get the following effect. If your unemployed you got the least amount of money BUT have the time to shop at the cheapest place, the market. If you got a 40 hour 8-5 job the market is out so you need to shop at the regular but slightly more expensive supermarket. More money but your also spending more on food. Now if you work longer hours and can't make the regular opening hours you need the special stores at train stations. More money offcourse in salary but your food expenses shoot up. Work even more and you won't even have time to cook and eating in restaurants or takeaway really becomes fucking expensive.

    Kids follow a similar pattern. The more you work, the more you make but also the more you spend on childcare. I had one co-worker who flatly refused to work on a friday (4 day contract) unless the company paid him double since that was his day to take care of the kid and if he worked on friday his entire salery would go to childcare meaning he effectlivly worked for nothing AND missed out on spending time with his child.

    Same with other stuff. You can eat better cheaper and healthier if you can shop for fresh food every day. Don't have the time? Pay more AND pay for a huge fridge and the electricity.

    The above is not just crap made up by some slashdot idiot. The effect that being going from unemployed to employed while leading to an increase in salary actually ends up with the person having less money is a big problem for countries with a decent social security system.

    Some of you may even have experienced the effect of a promotion and payment increase actually ending up with you having less "free" money because all of sudden you need to buy rounds not of beer but whiskey or wear real suits or chip in for golf clubs instead of mousemat birthday gifts.

    Whenever I see someone defend a 80 hour workweek because they are more productive I don't even bother with trying to reason that such a person will be too tired at work to do a decent job. I just wonder how that person finds enough free time to actually have some fun. Congrats that you earn twice as much as me. I will be sure to envy you while I am sitting with my feet up in the sun after a short day at work.

  • Does anyone else find it annoying that the majority of the posts on slashdot assume you know what the post is about before you read it?

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