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325 comments

Pretty bad when EA seems more appealing (5, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#38193932)

According to the article, PopCap turned down their offer and went with Electronic Arts instead, because they thought that working conditions would be better at EA. Yes, read that last part again: they would rather deal with the working conditions at EA than work for Zynga. That's pretty bad.

Re:Pretty bad when EA seems more appealing (2)

firex726 (1188453) | more than 2 years ago | (#38193982)

Anything on EA's conditions?
I haven't heard anything about the working conditions at EA aside from jokes.

Re:Pretty bad when EA seems more appealing (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38194046)

The most visible citation is this: http://ea-spouse.livejournal.com/274.html

There's likely similar stories out there, with a little help from Google.

Re:Pretty bad when EA seems more appealing (2)

heinousjay (683506) | more than 2 years ago | (#38194066)

2004. They've changed quite a bit since then, from what I understand.

Re:Pretty bad when EA seems more appealing (5, Funny)

wiedzmin (1269816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38194216)

Yeah, they laid off a good chunk of their employees and closed a bunch of offices since then.

Re:Pretty bad when EA seems more appealing (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38194064)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EA_Spouse

Re:Pretty bad when EA seems more appealing (5, Informative)

PatDev (1344467) | more than 2 years ago | (#38194110)

The best part of the (sorta) linked article is that the author of EA Spouse now works for Zynga as Lead Systems Designer.

That poor couple just can't catch a break!

Re:Pretty bad when EA seems more appealing (3, Informative)

greenfruitsalad (2008354) | more than 2 years ago | (#38194334)

the wikipedia article uses her linkedin profile as a source. according to that, she no longer works at zynga.

Re:Pretty bad when EA seems more appealing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38194142)

Happen to read that and see this part? "As of 2011, Erin Hoffman is employed as the Lead Systems Designer at Zynga" ...talk about awkward.

She works at Zynga (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38194164)

Ironically enough, that article mentions that "EA Spouse" aka. Erin Hoffman works at Zynga as the Lead Systems Designer.

Re:Pretty bad when EA seems more appealing (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38194226)

That story was so overblown. When you work in software development, like many other fields, there are times near a release (or whatever milestone) where you have to work a lot of overtime. It's simply a fact of life, and if you don't like it, go teach 8th grade gym. Not to mention she acted as if she represented the spouses of all EA developers, when in fact she represented herself and had some vague support from a few spouses on her husbands particular development team. EA's practices were totally in line with industry standards, which are in line with market realities and in line with the compensation package offered. If you want the opportunity to make a six figure salary, you're going to have to be prepared to make some sacrifices. If you can't handle 80 hour weeks for a few months when the time comes, well, as I alluded, my old junior high school is in desperate need of a gym teacher.

Re:Pretty bad when EA seems more appealing (5, Insightful)

turgid (580780) | more than 2 years ago | (#38194428)

When you work in software development, like many other fields, there are times near a release (or whatever milestone) where you have to work a lot of overtime. It's simply a fact of life

Nonsense

If you have to do that, it's due to bad management i.e bad planning and a lack of "alignment" (*cough* - PHB speak) in the organisation.

Note that I didn't say "bad managers": they're only part of the problem.

Try a little bit of Scrum, Agile and Design for Lean Six Sigma.

If you can't handle 80 hour weeks

No one can honestly say that they can work 80 hours in a week. Sure, they may be physically present, but during at least 30-35 of those hours they will be producing next to nothing, and quite probably contributing more problems in terms of mistakes to the project due to fatigue.

You macho people need to get a healthy dose of reality.

Re:Pretty bad when EA seems more appealing (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38194588)

I suspect that you are a team leader and nothing more. It all looks simple when you have small straightforward projects. Run teams of several hundred while being responsible for cash flow and business and you might be more credible.

Re:Pretty bad when EA seems more appealing (5, Informative)

turgid (580780) | more than 2 years ago | (#38194658)

Actually, I'm a software developer in a global organisation with 3600 permanent engineers plus contractors selling millions of products per quarter globally. I do C and C++ on Linux with TDD, shell scripting, Perl, Ruby... you name it. I've done a bit of scrum mastering myself and have been doing scrum for over 4 years.

If done properly, it works. And we always meet our deadlines, always, with the planned quality a feature set. I've never had to work more than 4 hours unplanned overtime in a week in all that time, and those occasions are only 3 or 4 times a year.

I've worked at mad 80-hour a week places before. They're a complete shambles, run by idiots who treat the engnieers like dirt. I'll not be going back.

Re:Pretty bad when EA seems more appealing (5, Insightful)

Ubergrendle (531719) | more than 2 years ago | (#38194630)

I manage a large operations department for a bank. Had chornic overtime issues, employee relations was involved. 60 hour work weeks were the norm.

I mandated that all projects (we did implementations as well as incident support) would not be allowed to budget more than 35 hours a week (5 hours for overhead/utilization) of effort. OT would have to be approved by me directly. All OT had to be paid for by the projects submitting the work.

6 months later, we had regular 40 hour work weeks for 95% of the staff. OT dropped. And the best part? I got the cream of the crop from other departments requesting to work for my shop... they wanted the work/life balance. Normal hours were suddenly a recruiting feature.

Chronic OT is always a sign of either ineffective people managers, or a broken corporate culture. Always.

Re:Pretty bad when EA seems more appealing (3, Interesting)

nschubach (922175) | more than 2 years ago | (#38194640)

Scrum/Agile can also be as bad. My last job we had "Scrum meetings" and were confronted if we didn't get at least 6 hours of "work time" on any particular task per day. If we didn't log every single change we made in the issue software we were asked what we were doing during that time. They could have checked the commit logs to see what changes I made during that day, but that's apparently not in their report. Heaven forbid I have a slow day or a meeting that prevents me from logging my 6 hours of time.

At my current location, the management doesn't attend Scrum meetings and it's night and day as far as what is reported. People here actually work together, but there is talk of linking "issue time" to "billed time" and I can see that quickly devolving into a pissing contest as well.

Re:Pretty bad when EA seems more appealing (5, Insightful)

s73v3r (963317) | more than 2 years ago | (#38194536)

When you work in software development, like many other fields, there are times near a release (or whatever milestone) where you have to work a lot of overtime.

No, not true. Furthermore, in most other fields, if you end up working overtime, you're usually compensated for it. There is absolutely NO REASON WHATSOEVER why software engineers should not be compensated for excess overtime.

Re:Pretty bad when EA seems more appealing (3, Insightful)

DrXym (126579) | more than 2 years ago | (#38194600)

Your chances of getting a six figure salary in a meat grinder like EA are quite low. Maybe it happens if your lead designer or some other notable on a premium game, not if you're some dogsbody slaving to design Barbie's petal dress for some stupid shovelware. And yes obviously there is a recognition that when a project comes to an end you might be expected to sprint to get the project done on time. That much is expected occasionally. The problem comes when sprint becomes the norm, when the company is simply fucking over its staff and making them work 60 hour weeks because it's promised absurdly tight deadlines that it can't meet any other way.

Look at Team Bondi as an example of how to run a team into the ground. The grind went on for years. People left because of the pressure and toxic atmosphere. The net result Bondi had a constant turnover of burned out angry staff and had to work the remainder even harder to make up for lost time. They were so deep in the red by the end that even when they released a product they got shut down. It does no one good to work in that kind of atmosphere. Not the games company and certainly not the employees. It's not the norm in any other form of software development and it really shouldn't be the norm for games development either.

Re:Pretty bad when EA seems more appealing (5, Insightful)

stickyboot (845510) | more than 2 years ago | (#38194674)

Just because its standard doesn't excuse it from being abuse.

Re:Pretty bad when EA seems more appealing (3, Informative)

crankyspice (63953) | more than 2 years ago | (#38194094)

Anything on EA's conditions?
I haven't heard anything about the working conditions at EA aside from jokes.

I haven't seen much lately, but in 2004 it was alleged that EA sucked the soul (or at least any semblance of work-life balance) out of its employees... http://news.cnet.com/Electronic-Arts-faces-overtime-lawsuit/2100-1043_3-5450316.html [cnet.com]

They settled a couple of years ago for millions, no word on whether conditions have improved. http://articles.latimes.com/2006/apr/26/business/fi-ea26 [latimes.com]

Re:Pretty bad when EA seems more appealing (2)

Tharsman (1364603) | more than 2 years ago | (#38194336)

It is my understanding [based off pure guessing] that their working conditions have worked incredibly from a PR perspective, thanks to their new NDA and lawsuit weavers that employee families must sign when they are hired, get married, adopt kids or plainly have kids.

Re:Pretty bad when EA seems more appealing (2, Interesting)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#38194188)

The nightmarish working conditions at EA are legendary. Those "jokes" you've heard? Probably real-life anecdotes.

The game development industry as a whole is a shitty place to work though, EA is just widely known as the worst of the lot.

Re:Pretty bad when EA seems more appealing (2)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#38194358)

The game development industry as a whole is a shitty place to work though,

That's sad, I really hoped things would have gotten better by now. Back in the '90s-'00s I was so heavily into gaming that Charles Broussard and Warren Marshall were on a first name basis with me (I ran a popular Quake site). I talked with both gamers and game devs, and was always glad I didn't go into that business.

I'd hoped they might have matured some since then. I see they haven't.

Re:Pretty bad when EA seems more appealing (4, Informative)

nschubach (922175) | more than 2 years ago | (#38194668)

From what I'm told by a friend in the business, it's still common for devs to hop from studio to studio on loan or being laid off from one place to the next because they finished X project. What I hear is that it's a crap shoot if the studios will keep you after release.

Re:Pretty bad when EA seems more appealing (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38193986)

And here I was going to ask if ex-EA people were running Zynga.
Are they?

Re:Pretty bad when EA seems more appealing (4, Insightful)

Tomato42 (2416694) | more than 2 years ago | (#38194016)

That really says more than the whole article!

Whiners (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38194316)

This trend of workers demanding fun jobs with luxurious working conditions has got to stop! I don't pay you to be happy and like your job. I pay you to make me rich! Now quit whining and get to work!

Re:Whiners (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38194404)

Last night you paid me to fuck your ass with a 12 inch black strapon, sissy boy.

EA Is An Amazing Work Environment (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38194364)

This crap reminds me of those people who parrot those stupid McDonalds Hot Coffee stories completely oblivious to the actual facts of the case.

Electronic Arts is an amazing place to work. The company is huge and has many studios and I have friends who have worked or do work at most of them over the past 15 years. If you don't mind the more corporate type of game company, EA is a dream job if you are someone that is important to game development: engineers and full-time artists.

If you are some low talent part-time artists brought on to do grunt work or some talent-less low level producer, yeah, you don't get treated very.

Shock.

Re:Pretty bad when EA seems more appealing (5, Interesting)

Zarim (1167823) | more than 2 years ago | (#38194084)

This reminds me of something one of the teacher's assistants at my college had said. He'd done a paid internship at Zynga and the president at one point had said to the developers (it's been a few years so I'm paraphrasing) "You are not smart. Your ideas are not innovative. You're not here to make the next greatest thing, you're here to rip off what already works and tweak it so we can maximize profits."

Re:Pretty bad when EA seems more appealing (4, Funny)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 2 years ago | (#38194102)

According to the article, PopCap turned down their offer and went with Electronic Arts instead, because they thought that working conditions would be better at EA.

Well, there was also the problem that, with Zynga, you're always last in line at the conference registration table - all the good swag is gone long before it's finally your turn.

Absoft wasn't interested in acquiring PopCap, so EA was the best they could do.

Re:Pretty bad when EA seems more appealing (2)

Tharsman (1364603) | more than 2 years ago | (#38194388)

I just don’t get why they wanted to be acquired. They had a darn nice business there, making fun games and from all my understanding doing a darn good profit. Why pursue selling that off?

I understand if you are relaxing at a company picnic one day and being offered hundreds of millions of dollars and not being able to resist temptation. But from what I hear they actively pursued selling the business.

Re:Pretty bad when EA seems more appealing (4, Interesting)

lgw (121541) | more than 2 years ago | (#38194486)

If you're the founder and CEO of a company, what else can you do when you get tired of your job? Selling the business is often your only reasonable exit strategy when you just want to change jobs or retire. For smaller companies, it can be the only real paycheck the founder will ever get.

Metrics are a synonym for Hell (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38193942)

Competitive my ass. It's a numbers game.

Re:Metrics are a synonym for Hell (5, Insightful)

alvinrod (889928) | more than 2 years ago | (#38194048)

Metrics can be used for comparison, it's just that most of them aren't good for measuring performance and that when you incentivize people to produce large scores for certain metrics, they'll start to cook the books.

For example, lines of code per hour is an absolutely terrible metric to measure performance. It does not take into account the type of problem or how difficult it may be to engineer a solution for that problem. Also, once it becomes apparent that people rewarded for producing a larger number of LoC per hour, they'll start to produce more lines of code, whether they're necessary or not, often to the detriment of readability.

There's nothing wrong with measuring things like this, and many software development methodologies use metrics such as LoC to provide feedback for the project, but in no way should they be used to evaluate employees. Many of the attributes that make up a good employee cannot be quantified by simple metrics. Metrics are just another tool. Using them correctly is necessary to get anything meaningful out of them.

Re:Metrics are a synonym for Hell (1)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#38194186)

Sadly, I still hear many otherwise intelligent people using lines of code from time to time.

Re:Metrics are a synonym for Hell (5, Insightful)

sribe (304414) | more than 2 years ago | (#38194240)

There's nothing wrong with measuring things like this, and many software development methodologies use metrics such as LoC to provide feedback for the project, but in no way should they be used to evaluate employees.

Evaluating software developers is hard. So, just as companies would like to use software generating tools to de-skill the programming positions, they'd also like to use metrics to de-skill some of those pesky high-paid management positions. Both attempts to substitute automation for human skill work about equally well ;-)

Re:Metrics are a synonym for Hell (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38194256)

It's best when you write -2000 lines of code [folklore.org] during the day.

Re:Metrics are a synonym for Hell (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 2 years ago | (#38194450)

A good programmer taking over work from a bad one will almost always produce negative lines of code, it's part of what makes them a good programmer. That's why most metrics ask New Lines, Modified Lines, Deleted Lines for their estimates.

Re:Metrics are a synonym for Hell (4, Insightful)

nine-times (778537) | more than 2 years ago | (#38194292)

Metrics are one of those things that sometimes set me off. The main problem is, you have to know what you're measuring. You're measuring number of lines produced per hour? That's fine. But do you know what you're measuring? You're measuring the number of lines produced per hour. You aren't measuring the quality of the code or the productivity of the programmer. The number of lines that a programmer produced may have some relation to the programmer's overall productivity, or it may not, so you are *not* measuring overall productivity with that metric.

Same goes for other metrics. Know what you're measuring. Don't rely too much on a metric to give you a value for something that it doesn't measure.

Re:Metrics are a synonym for Hell (5, Insightful)

tompaulco (629533) | more than 2 years ago | (#38194490)

If my company paid me solely based on how many lines of code I can write in an hour, then I would spend half an hour writing a code generating program, and the rest of my career there justifying more hardware on which to run my program.

Re:Metrics are a synonym for Hell (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38194312)

The only microscopically more intelligent metric of executable file length at the output of the optimizing compiler can also be successfully gamed... Let me write my own implementation of Quicksort, my own implementation of AES, etc.

Re:Metrics are a synonym for Hell (2, Funny)

JustOK (667959) | more than 2 years ago | (#38194500)

LoC is lines of code? Damn, I thought it was Library of Congresses. I should slow down

Re:Metrics are a synonym for Hell (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38194374)

I agree. That's why I work in the US. No metric system here.

Ah, capitalism. (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38193964)

People throwing away their lives for complete fucking bullshit like this.

Re:Ah, capitalism. (0)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#38194012)

People throwing away their lives for complete fucking bullshit like this.

The difference is that in capitalism you have the choice of not working for such a company, whereas in socialism you will successfully fulfil the Glorious People's Five Year Plan, comrade... or else.

OK, I'll admit that in the real world that generally means 'or else we'll just have to put bricks in the tractors we're shipping where the engines should have been', but that's only because most socialist nations can't afford to shoot everyone who doesn't meet their production metrics.

Re:Ah, capitalism. (2)

Old97 (1341297) | more than 2 years ago | (#38194100)

You are confusing socialism with totalitarianism. There are democratic socialist countries. I prefer a market economy myself and I agree that government control of the economy inherently limits the potential freedom of its citizens, but so do oligarchies and cartels. It is possible to have a market economy under an authoritarian regime as well. The combination of a representative government and a market economy has the greatest potential to maximize freedom, but that depends on so many conditions its almost theoretical.

Re:Ah, capitalism. (1)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 2 years ago | (#38194190)

> but that's only because most socialist nations can't afford to shoot everyone who doesn't meet their production metrics.

Well, yes, they eventually stabilize at that point, but it can be fairly hairy on the early, steep end of the curve.

Re:Ah, capitalism. (3, Insightful)

squidflakes (905524) | more than 2 years ago | (#38194338)

You're confusing socialism for The People's Republic of China and the scare stories about Russia in the 1980s as told by Americans to other Americans.

Places like Denmark, Finland, Sweden, France, and Germany are phenomenal when it comes to variety and choice in job.

Perhaps a bit of world travel and turning off Fox News would do you good.

Re:Ah, capitalism. (0)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 2 years ago | (#38194602)

Places like Denmark, Finland, Sweden, France, and Germany are phenomenal when it comes to variety and choice in job.

Perhaps a bit of world travel and turning off Fox News would do you good.

All I heard from the Danes, and Germans while I traveled there was how oppressive their taxes were, from the day they started working until the day they retired - everybody else gets a posh life, but if you work, you're working to support that posh life for the kids and seniors and disabled and pregnant and otherwise not-working people. There really was a lot of resentment, especially from the Germans with their shorter workweeks and 6+ weeks per year of paid vacation. Oh, and the Germans also liked to bitch about how nothing ever gets done during summer holiday time, like, literal shutdown of non-essential functioning for several months.

The Swedes didn't talk much (the only ones that did talk actually lived in the US and were just visiting, true Swedes didn't talk at all), the French (Parisians) were too busy being rude to actually relate anything of meaning, and I didn't travel in Finland, so I guess it's not surprising that I didn't meet many Finns.

Re:Ah, capitalism. (2)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#38194624)

Perhaps a bit of world travel and turning off Fox News would do you good.

He's living in the Capitalist's Free Market paradise. He can't afford those sorts of things.

Re:Ah, capitalism. (2)

Reservoir Penguin (611789) | more than 2 years ago | (#38194726)

30% on government payroll, 20% on well-fare, 12% too disabled to work. These are stats for Norway, but similar to some of the countries quoted above. Phenomenal my ass, maybe if you greatest aspiration to live on well-fare. But for someone ambitious and determined America is still the place to be. And I'm saying it as a patriotic Russian with no great love for USA. This is the opinion shared by people as diverse as Linux (recently became a naturalized citizen) to president of SpaceX.

Re:Ah, capitalism. (5, Insightful)

s73v3r (963317) | more than 2 years ago | (#38194638)

The difference is that in capitalism you have the choice of not working for such a company

And this is the largest problem with those that religiously worship capitalism. Whether or not you have the "choice" to work for this company is irrelevant; the fact of the matter is that this bullshit should not be allowed, period. When you start to allow companies to act like total assholes because "people have a choice," then if they get successful, then all the other companies will start to emulate that. Look at what happened with retirement plans: Most companies used to offer pensions, which were great for workers. Then a few removed them and went to the far shittier 401k plan. This was deemed acceptable because "you have the choice to work for a company that provides a pension." Fast forward a few years, and now it's almost impossible to find a company that offers pensions to it's employees, unless they are a union job. So don't give me that bullshit about "choice of working".

Re:Ah, capitalism. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38194018)

Hey America has the perfect system to keep companies like this in business. The people are all sheep and willing to go into huge amounts of debt in order to secure a college degree, then continued debt due to consumerism which is the only thing America produces these days.

Get this straight people - debt == corporate enslavement

Re:Ah, capitalism. (1, Offtopic)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#38194052)

A dozen teenagers being exploited by an employer doesn't worry me much, it's normal for most industries.

I'm more worried that people are throwing away their lives playing crappy Zynga games. How much is *that* costing the economy?

Re:Ah, capitalism. (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38194116)

A dozen teenagers being exploited by an employer doesn't worry me much, it's normal for most industries.

I'm more worried that people are throwing away their lives playing crappy Zynga games. How much is *that* costing the economy?

According to some gaming news Mark Turmell (NBA Jam) is there. Not quite a teenager anymore.

Re:Ah, capitalism. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38194684)

Glenn Wichman (Rogue) is there. Apparently working lots of hours as well.

Re:Ah, capitalism. (2)

s73v3r (963317) | more than 2 years ago | (#38194652)

A dozen teenagers being exploited by an employer doesn't worry me much, it's normal for most industries.

And that's a fucking problem. The fact that people consider that "acceptable" is absolutely disgusting.

Re:Ah, capitalism. (0)

alvinrod (889928) | more than 2 years ago | (#38194088)

You mean to suggest that if a socialist system (or any other for that matter) were used, stupid management would suddenly disappear?

Re:Ah, capitalism. (3, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#38194192)

You mean to suggest that if a socialist system (or any other for that matter) were used, stupid management would suddenly disappear?

Stalin's approach of shooting those who couldn't meet the required metrics at least ensured that management became smart enough to fiddle the metrics.

Re:Ah, capitalism. (0)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 2 years ago | (#38194250)

In a socialist system it's less likely that malcontents will have the opportunity to complain. So it doesn't matter if you have stupid management, or not.

Is that pitbull? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38193970)

in that red logo? Explains a lot...

nice comments (3, Insightful)

alphatel (1450715) | more than 2 years ago | (#38194032)

Companies display a big lack of management sklills when employees post things like:
*Stop asking if Mark is a good CEO on a company survey that people fill out over their company-issued computers. Everyone assumes it can be tracked.
* Expect to find yourself micromanaged by someone much less skilled than you, and who also has no skills in management.

Quelle surprise (5, Insightful)

Dogtanian (588974) | more than 2 years ago | (#38194136)

I'm shocked, *shocked* that a job involving writing human Skinner boxes [wikipedia.org] masquerading as games is less than spiritually satisfying.

I'm equally shocked that a company whose business revolves around getting money from people via human Skinner boxes masquerading as games might be a bunch of worthless dicks and not that much fun to work for.

Re:Quelle surprise (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38194478)

As much as I don't like Zynga at all, I'm going to have to ask you to explain how what they're doing is writing human Skinner boxes. Please do so in a way that does not include the output of the video game industry as a whole, or, in fact, the very concept of risk and reward, as an abstract Skinner box.

Note that no credit will be given for any answer that asserts microtransactions to be the primary differentiating factor. Demerits will be handed out if the answer asserts microtransactions to be inherently evil, as that is not the topic at hand.

Re:Quelle surprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38194682)

Other video games have a PLOT

Re:Quelle surprise (4, Informative)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | more than 2 years ago | (#38194690)

As much as I don't like Zynga at all, I'm going to have to ask you to explain how what they're doing is writing human Skinner boxes. Please do so in a way that does not include the output of the video game industry as a whole, or, in fact, the very concept of risk and reward, as an abstract Skinner box.

Note that no credit will be given for any answer that asserts microtransactions to be the primary differentiating factor. Demerits will be handed out if the answer asserts microtransactions to be inherently evil, as that is not the topic at hand.

A great game (that is not a Skinner box) should have the player constantly facing new problems and asking, "How can I solve this? What tools have I got? What have I learned from previous challenges that I can apply here?" Portal is a good example of that kind of game. Some games involve insane amounts of repetition but also involve reasonable levels of new problems to solve (WoW might fit this category). Zynga games just have the insane repetition.

Zynga threatened to sue me (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38194138)

for distributing some javascript that ran in greasemonkey which clicked buttons in their game. Fuck Zynga.

Good (3, Insightful)

joss (1346) | more than 2 years ago | (#38194228)

It *should* suck to work in that stupid place. If you're doing something that is a parasite on society to make a living at least at least you should have a miserable time doing it. Do something productive instead like, I dunno, deal heroin or something.

http://insertcredit.com/2011/09/22/who-killed-videogames-a-ghost-story/chapter/2/ [insertcredit.com]

Re:Good (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38194382)

Yes, they sure do deserve to suffer for the crime of making something you don't like. Because it is inherently immoral to not plan your career around what Slashdot poster joss approves of.

And yes, that IS literally exactly what you meant.

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38194498)

I If you're doing something that is a parasite on society to make a living at least at least you should have a miserable time doing it.

You know, that explains a LOT about Homeland Security.

Re:Good (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38194702)

While interesting, the article you linked doesn't actually say that these guys killed video games. All it really does is point out that the "games" they make aren't really games at all, and are instead just statistically driven money generation systems. They are terrible games, but it hasn't ruined all games. There really are great games being released. They are actually better than the games you played as a kid, even if you are clouded by nostalgia.

You're right that they make shitty products that they call 'games'. It's not fair to go all Chicken Little on the gaming industry.

Another data point (5, Insightful)

swillden (191260) | more than 2 years ago | (#38194356)

A friend from church mentioned to me a while ago that Zynga had been trying to recruit his son, a 16 year-old junior in high school. That really made me wonder about the company. The kid's smart, no doubt about it, and a decent coder (his code is functional, but not particularly clean or maintainable -- pretty typical for a bright novice), but I can really only think of one reason why a company would want to hire a 16 year-old, put him up in an apartment in NYC and make him write code full-time: To exploit his willingness to work insane hours for peanuts until he burns out.

If they really thought he was brilliant and a great long-term hire, they'd offer him an internship and help pay for his college education in exchange for some work now and a lot more work after he gets some CS knowledge to go along with his coding skills.

His parents refused to let him go... they didn't like the idea of turning a 16 year-old loose on his own in NYC, for some reason. I'm encouraging him to apply for a summer internship at Google. Most of those go to college students, but I think he's good enough to make the cut, and a summer internship will pay him well for a great learning opportunity without compromising his continuing formal education.

Is anyone actually surprised? (2)

argmanah (616458) | more than 2 years ago | (#38194466)

If putting out a good, clean product is nowhere in the requirements for your software, why would you compensate the people enough to retain people competent enough to put out a good, clean product? Do you remember that slacker in your CS/IT classes? You know who I'm talking about, the one who never did any of the work in group projects but took all of the credit when it was time to present it to the class. The one who has the same degree you do, but couldn't code his way out of a cardboard box. They need jobs too! Sorry, but the Tech world has been somewhat insulated from the recession, and finding a job in CS/IT isn't that hard right now. If you're stuck at Zynga, there might be a reason.

The Zynga apologist's big omission (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38194506)

I read some things about this flap this morning. The apologists are saying things like, "of course it should be hard, startups are hard, that's why you earn $$$".

The big omission is that the hard-driving startup lifestyle isn't sustainable. People can only burn the candle at both ends for so long before they burn out. Get in. Get rich. Get out. That's the only way it works. Zynga wants them to get in, get moderately wealthy, and stay in. It's not sustainable. The VC's are always thinking about the exit strategy and they need to understand that their employees are too.

Quiet Period (1)

schlesinm (934723) | more than 2 years ago | (#38194550)

Amazing how much stories there are comparing Zynga and EA while Zynga is in the quiet period just before their IPO and are unable to comment. Judging from the number of ex-EA employees on the current Zynga roster, I expect that this is a EA sponsored hit piece.

Zynga , huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38194556)

Zynga - rubbish quality control, customer service that's outright insulting even when it's obviously they code that's faulty, automated banning for people playing their "free" games if they don't start paying money under the pretence of "cheating", multiple unauthorised charges against people who DO pay, not providing the virtual products/services that are actually paid for ... the litany goes on and on
They can complain all they like, if someone came to me looking for work with Zynga on their resume I'd throw them out of the building on the spot. Working for those scum makes you unemployable.

Re:Zynga , huh? (0)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 2 years ago | (#38194614)

...if someone came to me looking for work with Zynga on their resume I'd throw them out of the building on the spot. Working for those scum makes you unemployable.

Wouldn't the fact that they were smart enough to no longer be working for Zynga count somewhat in their favor?

Time for a Union! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38194568)

Time for a Union!

Re:Time for a Union! (0)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 2 years ago | (#38194590)

Time for a Union!

That is almost never the right solution in today's world.

Re:Time for a Union! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38194710)

and becoming the offices bitch is? and free food?? more like we have food hear so you don't have to stop working to eat.

Glassdoor (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38194646)

It's pretty funny, but Zynga has people trying to do damage control on Glassdoor, so I guess they know how bad things are.
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