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Game Developer Now Offering Employees Overtime

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the ea-spouse-cries-with-relief dept.

Businesses 75

Via Joystiq comes a story from the European game development website Develop, saying that the UK developer Free Radical will be offering employees overtime for crunch mode sessions. "Steve Ellis of Free Radical says the days of 'bonuses that pay off your mortgage are long gone' and that they've 'decided to start paying people for the work that they do -- even when that work is outside their normal hours.' Ellis says that the industry as a whole will eventually go this way, but they prefer to do it sooner rather than later. Although there are so many companies who are guilty of not paying their employees for working extra hours, EA gets picked on more often than not because of the infamous EA Spouse saga."

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Not the entire industry... (3, Insightful)

SnoopJeDi (859765) | more than 6 years ago | (#20840095)

This model might work for the "kids" of the gaming industry that recycle developers like toilet paper, and treat them the same.

I suspect that the big names, companies like iD, Raven, and SplashDamage will continue on a by-project basis, simply because their teams are so radically different.

Interesting idea, though, and it definitely helps bring 'game developer' closer into the fold with 'real' jobs, giving it more weight with skeptics who don't understand the industry.

Re:Not the entire industry... (0, Troll)

rhyder128k (1051042) | more than 6 years ago | (#20840781)

Looking forward to the sociology textbook that addresses this sort of issue within its section on gender and workplace. Those men are simply privileged because their wives don't have the same opportunities that they do.

Re:Not the entire industry... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20841241)

I suspect that the big names, companies like iD, Raven, and SplashDamage...

Um, how are they big names? They are tiny single studios (SplashDamage is probably about 20 people, like the studio I work for) compared to big employers like EA (several thousand developers) or Ubisoft (over 1000 developers).

The big publisher/developers also have the opportunity to play off multiple jurisdictions against each other, notably Quebec and Shanghai versus the rest of the world. It is more significant when a state/country passes laws or decides to eventually enforce them, like California in the case of EA or potentially Washington in the case of Microsoft.

But it is welcome when a company decides by itself to recognize overtime as being appropriate for the types of game that involve scores of people. I work on much smaller/shorter projects, so bonuses can still be welcome, and we are at the mercy of another company than our own employer anyway. This is not the case for the big publisher/developers.

I like the imageword for this article: "raises" :-)

Re:Not the entire industry... (1)

Eponymous Bastard (1143615) | more than 6 years ago | (#20844047)

The other reason this won't fly is that cash-flow problem.

Say you pay your developers $X over a month of overtime instead of $2X as a bonus once you ship. A game developer makes no money during the development phase. In fact they make most of their money the first week or two a game is on the shelves.

In the overtime scenario they'd have to take a (possibly an additional) loan for $X to pay for the developers and just pray that they can cover it later. In the bonus scenario, the company can wait until the game ships and they go in the black before compensating.

Of course, the developers probably should get it in writing that they'll get $2X as a bonus once the game ships and sells N units rather than depend on their employer's good will, but that's unlikely.

Or the studio should save money from their past games to pay for the budgeted overtime, but that's unlikely too.

Re:Not the entire industry... (1)

mikael (484) | more than 6 years ago | (#20845189)

And some companies just chuck their developers as soon as the product starts shipping, thus saving the expense of paying bonuses in the first place.

why? (1)

HelloKitty (71619) | more than 6 years ago | (#20844165)

so why wouldn't it work for "big companies" ?

one reason I can think of is that they will still attract people to work on the great titles, and wont have to compensate with hourly overtime (the resume building experience would be enough for some developers..)

still, even with this, I can't think that retention will be all that good. what developer will want to _stay_ at a company that doesn't compensate them? one who doesn't care about money (or security for their family, etc..). single people will be most likely to go for these "companies without overtime", as will people who just love it and/or don't care about the money...

Dupe (kinda) (0, Offtopic)

techpawn (969834) | more than 6 years ago | (#20840239)

WE talked about this before [slashdot.org] . Some people are all for overtime in the developer world some of us think it's worthless. If it gets games out by their release dates great! But I'm not shelling out 90 bucks a game!

Re:Dupe (kinda) (2, Insightful)

king-manic (409855) | more than 6 years ago | (#20840765)

If it gets games out by their release dates great! But I'm not shelling out 90 bucks a game!

It'll likely lead to saner game release schedules. Instead of saying "Oct 9th 2007, no matter hell or high water", it'll be "forth quarter 2007, probably".

Re:Dupe (kinda) (4, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 6 years ago | (#20841647)

It'll likely lead to saner game release schedules. Instead of saying "Oct 9th 2007, no matter hell or high water", it'll be "forth quarter 2007, probably".
That's usually what happens. Perhaps it is just an indication that games shouldn't be hyped until they are largely together. And that the date for the release shouldn't be set until a month or two before it is released.

This is one of the problems with allowing businesses the level of freedom that they have over compensation. Sure minimum wages and similar mandates tend to be problematic when not thought through, but so is the idea that an employer should be allowed to require constant overtime as well. Burn out is a serious matter, and as is killing morale. There just aren't many industries that have workers that thrive by working constant overtime because the business model was messed up.

Re:Dupe (kinda) (1)

king-manic (409855) | more than 6 years ago | (#20841771)

that was a pretty poor modding of your post.

Re:Dupe (kinda) (1)

toriver (11308) | more than 6 years ago | (#20843441)

And I'd like to pay even less than today, so please outsource all game development to Vietnam so I can pay $30 instead of $50.

^_^

Re:Dupe (kinda) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20847357)

Nice idea, but instead we'll charge $70 and still outsource. Profit.

Not enough ads (4, Funny)

Jesterboy (106813) | more than 6 years ago | (#20840263)

I don't know, but I think Developmag.com could remove a few more lines of content, and shove a few more ads on the page.

11 sentences to 14 ads is just too small of a cost/income ratio (yes, I counted).

</sarcasm>

Re:Not enough ads (1)

PHPNerd (1039992) | more than 6 years ago | (#20841009)

Adblock Plus FTW!

How pathetic (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20840281)

how pathetic must you be to work overtime without being paid for it. I'm moving into the 20th year of my career, mostly software development, some IT work. NEVER worked overtime without being paid handsomely for it. Remember you anti social youngin's, you have to STAND UP FOR YOURSELF OR THEY RUN YOU OVER.

Idiots

Re:How pathetic (3, Insightful)

MadHatter2005 (886375) | more than 6 years ago | (#20840375)

I agree. Being in the industry, it amazes me that the youngin's just roll over and take it when asked to work ridiculous hours. "Oh, you want me to work 70+ hours a week for months? OK!! Thanks, I'm so grateful to be in the industry I'll do whatever you tell me Mr. Game Businessman!!!"

I'm not sure how well this pay-for-overtime concept will do though. There are a lot of ambitious people waiting to break into the industry, and the suits at the top know this and take advantage of it. Simple supply and demand.

Re:How pathetic (3, Insightful)

Applekid (993327) | more than 6 years ago | (#20841465)

A youngin' who lacks the breadth and depth of your experience will need to compromise lest they find themselves out of a job.

Gotta prove you're worth it in experience and what you bring to the table before you start making demands. Thankfully, employ at Free Radical is a pretty good heavyweight on the resume and those working there are very likely to be able to demand overtime pay at their next gig.

Re:How pathetic (1)

xero314 (722674) | more than 6 years ago | (#20842571)

A youngin' who lacks the breadth and depth of your experience will need to compromise lest they find themselves out of a job.
They already compromised by accepting lower compensation (Money, paid time off, etc.).

Re:How pathetic (3, Insightful)

SpaceToast (974230) | more than 6 years ago | (#20841519)

Why does it blow your mind that the young'uns will work these absurd hours? Here's how it goes:

Young'un: Hello! I'm entering the working world under a staggering mountain of college debt.
Old'un: Will you work 70+ hours a week for months?
Young'un: Gee, that sounds kind of exploitative.
Old'un: This guy will. Don't worry though, I hear Starbucks is hiring.
Young'un: No no, I'll take it.
Old'un: Perfect! By the way we've cut bonuses.
Young'un: Oh.
Old'un: I mean, I still get them. But you don't. Sounds fair, right?
Young'un: Well not...
Old'un: I have a wife, a house and a family. Think you'll have those anytime soon?
Young'un: No, I guess not.
Old'un: That's the spirit!
Young'un: But if I work hard and produce good work, I'll be able to steadily move up to where-?
Old'un: No. It's simple supply and demand.

Supply and demand is no excuse for bare exploitation. As near as I can tell, the only sin of the young'uns is believing they'd do at least as well as their parents did.

Re:How pathetic (2, Insightful)

Rakishi (759894) | more than 6 years ago | (#20841627)

No, they're sin is wanting to work on games not matter what reality says and being utter idiots about it. In any other industry they'd have been out of candidates a long time ago but the young ones are utter and total idiots. They "want to work in games" and will put up with anything to do so, no matter how little they actually contribute to the game in every sense of the meaning.

Plenty of other jobs, including programming/IT ones, that don't have this problem AND pay better. Of course when you have so many idiots who are willing to sell their souls to work for you it's hard to not take advantage of it.

Re:How pathetic (1)

mangu (126918) | more than 6 years ago | (#20844143)

Supply and demand is no excuse for bare exploitation.


Maybe it's not an excuse, but it seems like a pretty good explanation. He could just say "NO!", unless both of the following conditions are true: (a) he has no better job offer, and (b) there are others willing to work under those conditions.


I may sound cynic, but if there's no one offering better jobs for programmers, then why should game publishers improve their offer? If the computer games industry cannot follow the law of supply and demand, shouldn't all other businesses be held to the same standard? After all, I can't see any good reason why game programmers should be considered intrinsically better than car wash or fast food workers, for example.

Re:How pathetic (1)

Purity Of Essence (1007601) | more than 6 years ago | (#20846489)

Supply and demand is no excuse for bare exploitation.


Welcome to the wonderful world of capitalism! Enjoy your stay!

Re:How pathetic (2, Insightful)

thegnu (557446) | more than 6 years ago | (#20840551)

I think you have to be a salaried employee. If you get a benefits package and make half a million a year, it doesn't seem like such a bad deal to work an additional 10 to 20 hours a couple weeks out of the year. However, I know game developers don't make that. And they work insane hours. But who says game developers aren't insane?

But this is good news, definitely. FWIW, I get paid hourly, and I bill like crazy if someone needs something done and I need to reschedule a lot of work or work overnight because of it. But I'm also not paid for the times I'm doing nothing like some people are.

Re:How pathetic (3, Insightful)

servognome (738846) | more than 6 years ago | (#20842133)

how pathetic must you be to work overtime without being paid for it.
Maybe they choose to for the "love" of the job. Game programmers can get cushy jobs in other software segments, but there's that drive to make games. How many kids grow up thinking, "I want to learn programming so I can write a database program to manage toilet paper inventories."
The number of people who want to break into the industry leads to workers making compromises. Just like acting, where you have to work a minimum wage job 95% of the time so you have the flexibility to stand in line for 5 hours to get the chance at landing a one time role that pays $50. Or professional sports where by age 6 you spend hour after hour practicing, most likely will end up in a $20k/year practice and will suffer life long physical pain, all for the chance of having a big league career that lasts less than 3 years.

Re:How pathetic (1)

antdude (79039) | more than 6 years ago | (#20842671)

And the employers fire you since they hire cheaper people (e.g., outsource) who will do more hours without OT.

its an unwritten rule of advancement (1)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 6 years ago | (#20843763)

Where I work there are numerous people who work hours from home. There are those who go out of their way to let others know of "all the work they do" beyond what is called for.

There are many reasons for this, right or wrong.
1. Perceived (usually true) method for advancement, management always loves ass kissers and putting in extra hours or staying past five are common ways to show it
2. Don't believe in self. Then there are those who don't believe they do enough because of lacking. To make up for it they put in hours over what others do. For the most part I wish they wouldn't as I usually end up fixing it
3. Did I mention ass kissers? In my industry its a near requirement. Get the title of "Manager" regardless of what you do and its EXPECTED
4. People who cannot manage their time
5. People with no life. Don't under estimate their numbers. With blackberries some feel as if they have to show they are doing something
6. Blackberries. All by themselves, these insidious items and work provide laptops give employers the expectation you will work from home too

Hell, up until this year we were REQUIRED to work 42.5 hours a week. It was written in stone.

People bury themselves under mortgages, hideous monthlies, and cc bills. (monthlies == phone bills, cable, dsl, satellite, lawn care) and waste money on coffee shops, eating lunch out every day (many times with management) and trying to keep up with the Jones. Also factor in the fear of having to change your job. Its a big fear most don't want to go through as many lack the confidence they could get another job that pays well.

So you may see it as pathetic but its part of business that many accept and perpetuate.

Re:How pathetic (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 6 years ago | (#20843787)

I've never seen anyone in the industry do it for nothing. I have seen them do it for the following reasons:
1) Promotion opportunities (== more pay, more creative control).
2) Creative control (working extra hours often opens opportunities to do your own thing).
3) Bigger bonus (bonuses are often divvied up either by measured or apparent hours).
4) Social fun (when your job is also your recreation, the hours add up).

Re:How pathetic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20846373)

Ermmm... doesn't the article infer that they don't get paid directly for the overtime, but they do get bonuses that pay off their mortgages?

I'm a developer and I definitely don't make as much as a successful game dev, but when I work overtime, I know the owner of my company is going to hook me up with a nice random bonus every so often. Which, by the way, is worth more than triple time for those extra hours I put in.

Re:How pathetic (1)

PhoenixOne (674466) | more than 6 years ago | (#20853209)

For me its called "pride in ones work".

And, yes, we are taken advantage because of it; which is why the overturn rate at game companies is so high. But we leave *after* the project is done.

Overtime Cheaper than More People (0)

queenb**ch (446380) | more than 6 years ago | (#20840385)

Frankly, I'd rather see game companies pay some OT to get stuff out by the date its promised. It's actually MUCH cheaper than hiring more people. First off, you don't have the ramp up time that's required with a newbie to the project. Someone who's been there all along knows what's going on and doesn't need to spend days or weeks reading thousands of lines of code before they can start contributing. Secondly, since you don't have to provide another set of benefits (medical, dental, etc.) it's bottom line cheaper to pay OT to existing people than it is to hire new ones.

2 cents,

QueenB.

Re:Overtime Cheaper than More People (2, Interesting)

butterflysrage (1066514) | more than 6 years ago | (#20840635)

which putts it totally at odds with why overtime was first introduced. During the great depression, overtime was introduced to pressure employers to hire extra staff rather then simply working the ones they had into the ground.

Re:Overtime Cheaper than More People (2, Interesting)

rkcallaghan (858110) | more than 6 years ago | (#20841173)

butterflysrage wrote:

[Overtime's quality of being cheaper than hiring more employees] puts it totally at odds with why overtime was first introduced. During the great depression, overtime was introduced to pressure employers to hire extra staff rather then simply working the ones they had into the ground.
Overtime still works that way, just not in the way that you expect. It is cheaper still to hire more part-time employees and refuse them both benefits AND overtime. Overtime contributes significantly to this equation; as it is possible for a part time employee to be paid overtime on a short term basis without running afoul of federal laws that would change their status to full time. The resulting expenses however cause any employer of part time employees to be downright paranoid of you "going over" at any time, usually to the point of pushing you out the door as soon as you get close.

Mind you as I say this, I'm not against overtime laws or want to remove them in any way. However, overtime is helping to create more part-time jobs. As I said though, the solution here to create more full time jobs is not to remove overtime but rather to further increase the pressure by requiring benefit packages to be extended to all employees regardless of the hours worked. Most benefits require some employee contribution, such as insurance fees, premiums, 401(k) contributions, etc. Or an employer could simply raise their payroll, and get rid of employer tied benefits altogether, a more reasonable approach in my opinion.

~Rebecca

Re:Overtime Cheaper than More People (1)

Shaterri (253660) | more than 6 years ago | (#20841101)

It may appear that way, but IIRC several surveys have shown far and away the opposite -- the quality of work you get after a certain threshold (somewhere in the 40-50 hour range) goes down so rapidly that you're substantially better off throwing more people at the problem than more time. This is more applicable in large organizations where the additional people are already on staff, of course, but ramp-up on projects is generally swift enough for anyone you can hire from within the industry (especially now that middleware technologies such as the Unreal Engine, Havok physics, etc. are becoming so prominent) that even hiring new people from outside the company can be much more cost-effective than trying to double the hours of the people already working for you.

Re:Overtime Cheaper than More People (1)

DuckDodgers (541817) | more than 6 years ago | (#20841499)

t may appear that way, but IIRC several surveys have shown far and away the opposite -- the quality of work you get after a certain threshold (somewhere in the 40-50 hour range) goes down so rapidly that you're substantially better off throwing more people at the problem than more time.

Thanks for posting that. I agree with it. I think (hope) I write well designed, well documented, well tested, usable code. But honestly, my employer probably gets 5 hours of solid work a day from me and then my concentration starts to rapidly deteriorate.

When I work a marathon session to get something out the door, more than half the time I end up kicking myself because of bugs I missed or crucial design flaws that require rewrites from scratch to add new features. One of the best features in my current job is close work with tech support. Our support staff (1 guy, it's a tiny company) couldn't program to save his life. But I take database changes, end user typical use cases, and sample GUIs to him and we spend at least 20 minutes every day discussing new features and fixes. We figure things out in a ten minute chat that I could spend hours chasing the wrong way on my own.

Re:Overtime Cheaper than More People (2, Interesting)

91degrees (207121) | more than 6 years ago | (#20841901)

Absolutely. I know from personal experience I've spent hours on a problem working late and fixed it in 5 minutes the next day. After an 8 hour day you;re not going to get a lot from an employee.

Not like this will happen in the US (4, Informative)

Black Art (3335) | more than 6 years ago | (#20840457)

Current employment law allows employers in the US to exempt pretty much any and all employees who work with computers from overtime. If you were not exempt before 2004, the revisions made by Congress pretty much assured you are now.

We don't buy slaves any more, we rent them.

Re:Not like this will happen in the US (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 6 years ago | (#20840923)

Which law is this, specifically?

Re:Not like this will happen in the US (2, Informative)

PreviouslySeen (714752) | more than 6 years ago | (#20843445)

FLSA--Fair Labor Standards act.


It governs the classification of exempt (salaried;not eligible for overtime) vs non-exempt (hourly;eligible for overtime)

disclaimer: US only.
http://www.dol.gov/esa/whd/flsa/ [dol.gov]

Re:Not like this will happen in the US (1)

VeriTea (795384) | more than 6 years ago | (#20841271)

I don't know. According to this article [msn.com] it looks like the winds are shifting and many companies stand to take a beating from their historic practices.

Of course it is hard to tell anything from a single article since it could very well be the reporter projecting his fervent wishes onto the data.

Re:Not like this will happen in the US (1)

Chuckaluphagus (111487) | more than 6 years ago | (#20841397)

U.S. labor laws that govern overtime pay don't say anything about computers, but I do understand where you're coming from. The original overtime laws that were put into place differentiated between factory workers (unskilled labor) and management (skilled labor), basically, mandating overtime for the workers and "exempting" management from receiving overtime pay by law. The problem now, of course, is that far fewer people work in factories since we've shifted to a service economy, and many of us who aren't in management have roles, job responsibilities, training and education that now place us in the "exempt" category as well.

I have the interesting situation that I am exempt from overtime pay according to U.S. labor law but my employer chooses to pay me overtime wages anyway, on the grounds that it's the right thing to do and increases job satisfaction. It's like some sort of reverse-Dilbert cartoon here, I tell you.

Mine can't be the only company that chooses business practices that actively benefit workers beyond the legal minimums, but it's nice to see that other companies are publicly speaking out in support of working this way.

Re:Not like this will happen in the US (2, Informative)

Wordplay (54438) | more than 6 years ago | (#20842813)

You're incorrect.

An exemption was inserted in the last few years that covers "computer systems analysts, computer programmers, software engineers, and other similarly skilled workers in the computer field who meet certain tests regarding their job duties and who are paid at least $455 per week on a salary basis or paid on an hourly basis, at a rate not less than $27.63 an hour."

http://www.dol.gov/esa/regs/compliance/whd/fairpay/fs17e_computer.htm [dol.gov]

Re:Not like this will happen in the US (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 6 years ago | (#20848389)

Typical... those numbers make no sense... (Not doubting your accuracy as much as government competence)

27.63 * 2000 = $55,260
455 * 52 = $23,660

Re:Not like this will happen in the US (1)

Chuckaluphagus (111487) | more than 6 years ago | (#20852213)

I was unaware of that revision to mention computer workers. Thanks for the information.

Re:Not like this will happen in the US (2, Insightful)

SparkleMotion88 (1013083) | more than 6 years ago | (#20842153)

Thankfully we have this thing called "freedom" that allows companies to (for the most part)decide how to compensate their employees. So maybe if you're desirable enough, you can find an employer that compensates you in a way that makes you happy, regardless of what companies are required to do by law. In fact, why is it even remotely okay that the government can make laws that dictate how a private organization trades money for labor? What if there was a law that set a maximum salary for workers in your field?

And I don't want to hear any garbage about "wage slavery" or "no options" or "corporate greed." If you don't want to trade your labor for what you are willing to convince someone to pay for it, then don't do it.

Re:Not like this will happen in the US (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20843025)

In fact, why is it even remotely okay that the government can make laws that dictate how a private organization trades money for labor?

The law establishes minimum practices. The fact that very, very, very few companies choose to go beyond these minimum practices indicates that removing them probably will cause the companies to sink to even lower levels.

What if there was a law that set a maximum salary for workers in your field?

People would be extraordinarily pissed off. Take a look at the people upset about CEO pay, yet there are no laws to limit CEO pay. Consider that when trying to draw a parallel between situation A and situation B.

If you don't want to trade your labor for what you are willing to convince someone to pay for it, then don't do it.

I wonder which can last longer, you without food, or the company without you. Perhaps you have an overinflated idea of how important you are to the company.

Re:Not like this will happen in the US (1)

SparkleMotion88 (1013083) | more than 6 years ago | (#20844351)

The fact that very, very, very few companies choose to go beyond these minimum practices indicates that removing them probably will cause the companies to sink to even lower levels
Or it indicates that the actual value of the labor in question is below minimum wage. You are passing moral judgement on the corporations that would like to pay below minimum wage. They don't care. They are in it for the money, not the well-being of their employees. If you don't like it, don't work for those companies or buy their products. Just please don't punish everyone with more laws.

I wonder which can last longer, you without food, or the company without you. Perhaps you have an overinflated idea of how important you are to the company.
My company would be just fine without me -- they wouldn't even really miss me. But what's more important is that I don't really care about the well-being of my company any more than I expect them to care about me. If I lose my job and I can't afford food, then I accept the possibility that I will starve to death. I don't expect my (former)company to care about my plight, nor do I expect to be bailed out by the government. If I do end up starving to death, there's no travesty of justice perpetrated by evil corporations -- it's just biology at work.

Re:Not like this will happen in the US (1)

MadHatter2005 (886375) | more than 6 years ago | (#20847927)

It must be very bleak and desolate in your world. I can almost hear the icy wind whistling past your lonesome soul.

You're right, of course, that there is no "law" that can force people or companies to care about each other. But, I think we humans should strive to connect with each other beyond a mere producer/consumer role. It may be less efficient, and it may not maximize shareholder value, but it goes a long way in making this existence more bearable for everyone involved.

Re:Not like this will happen in the US (1)

Wildclaw (15718) | more than 6 years ago | (#20843119)

"why is it even remotely okay that the government can make laws that dictate how a private organization trades money for labor?"

The same reason why the goverment ensures that companies follow employee safety laws. Because every time the company and a an employee engages in a deal, the employee is at a disadvantage because he is smaller.

Between unions and goverment regulations I am personally in favor of the regulations.

"What if there was a law that set a maximum salary for workers in your field?"

I so wish there was. I am tired of seeing CEOs earning millions and millions of dollars. I can agree that some people are more important than others, but the current earning differences is just plain robbery from society.

"And I don't want to hear any garbage about "wage slavery" or "no options" or "corporate greed." If you don't want to trade your labor for what you are willing to convince someone to pay for it, then don't do it."

I know that hearing the truth hurts. Libertarians and market anarchists constantly ignore societal issues when discussing economy, because their ideology doesn't have any solutions for it. "The rich win and the poor die" may be a nice ideology to you, but I don't like the prospects of it. The free market is a nice tool for distribution and should be exploited to the advantage of the society (even the chinese have learned that). Worshipping it like a god however is just plain old fundamentalism.

Re:Not like this will happen in the US (1)

SparkleMotion88 (1013083) | more than 6 years ago | (#20843813)

You're bringing up issues of ethics. I fully expect that most slashdotters (and even people in general) will disagree with me on the ethical and social aspects of economics. All I ask is that you folks leave your morality out of laws that affect me. I understand why most people would want laws to limit CEO pay and guarantee pay for normal workers. I suspect a big contributor to this desire is that most people are normal workers, not CEOs. Just remember that any law that limits the freedom of an individual or corporation can be applied to you. And from what I've seen, once we give up a freedom in the US, we don't get it back.

"The rich win and the poor die"
I prefer "the fit live and the unfit die". My moral system doesn't require me to take care of people when I'm not really interested in their continued existence. I respect your beliefs and I applaud your commitment to humanity, but I don't think we should be imposing this sort of morality using laws.

Re:Not like this will happen in the US (1)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 6 years ago | (#20849807)

The basis of all laws is morality. So in a current societal sense, the majority do hold to caring and sharing, hence by your own definition you would be considered unfit, please make the appropriate evolutionary adjustment with out the requirement for additional legislation, thank you ;).

Re:Not like this will happen in the US (1)

Yoozer (1055188) | more than 6 years ago | (#20849933)

I am tired of seeing CEOs earning millions and millions of dollars.
I'm not - I just wish shareholders would not let them earn those amounts if they are completely incompetent. Run it into the ground and still get a nice financial goodbye (rinse, lather, repeat for the next company); where's the logic in that?

Re:Not like this will happen in the US (1)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 6 years ago | (#20843277)

And I don't want to hear any garbage about "wage slavery" or "no options" or "corporate greed." If you don't want to trade your labor for what you are willing to convince someone to pay for it, then don't do it.

Ya! Because those things never existed, especially not around say the 1900s.

About the "EA Spouse"... (0, Flamebait)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | more than 6 years ago | (#20840777)

The current mandatory hours are 9am to 10pm -- seven days a week -- with the occasional Saturday evening off for good behavior (at 6:30pm). This averages out to an eighty-five hour work week.


One of two things is going on: 1) your spouse is an unemployable moron and this is the only job he/she can keep or 2) your spouse hates you. Given the rest of the whining in the original post, I'd bet it's #2.

You don't like working conditions at company X? Go work for company Y!

Re:About the "EA Spouse"... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20841431)

Are you really as much of a shit head as this post makes you sound?

Re:About the "EA Spouse"... (1)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 6 years ago | (#20843483)

You don't like working conditions at company X? Go work for company Y!

Why do you believe company Y is different?

You're all lemmings, aren't you? (1)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | more than 6 years ago | (#20843631)

Why do you believe company Y is different?


1) I work at "company Y". I don't do 85-hour work weeks. Hell, 45-hour work weeks are a rare grind.

2) Get/talk to some friends at different companies for God's sake. They can describe what's out there if you're scared and can often hook you up with a better job.

3) I read the ads on Slashdot. (Sorry, too easy!)

Re:About the "EA Spouse"... (1)

mcvos (645701) | more than 6 years ago | (#20849311)

There's quite a lot of demand for good programmers at the moment. If you have trouble finding a good job with decent hours, you're not searching hard enough or you're simply not a good programmer. (And even bad programmers should be able to get a job these days.)

The problem with the EA Spouse story is bad management and bad planning, and the programmer nevertheless obeying these bad managers. Don't. Quit. Get another job, start your own company, form a union, whatever. Working 13 hours a day every single day for no extra pay to fix the fuck-ups of better paid people is simply insane. I'd rather work at Starbucks.

Re:About the "EA Spouse"... (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 6 years ago | (#20850277)

It's harder to actually find another job than to say "find another job". Especially when you're working that many hours a week. First of all you have to find another company that wants to employ you. There's an interview you need to find time for. There's the psychological aspect to split from people you work with and stop mid-project.

I mean really all you should do is refuse to do overtime, but it's extremely hard to say "no" when everyone else on the team says yes. Human psychology isn't going to let us.

Grow a sack, you lemmings. (1)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | more than 6 years ago | (#20851499)

It's harder to actually find another job than to say "find another job". Especially when you're working that many hours a week.


First, drop your hours down to around 35-40 a week. If they fire you, take unemployment.

...you have to find another company that wants to employ you.


If you're willing to give up your life for a crappy 85-hour job, there are plenty of employers who want to talk to you. (I'd be one of them.)

There's an interview you need to find time for.


Here's where having friends in the industry helps out; in many cases an interview is just a formality because someone else good can vouch for you.

Or, start taking honest-to-God, OOO lunch breaks and do some interviews over these.

There's the psychological aspect to split from people you work with and stop mid-project.


Here's where you need to grow a sack and treat your job like a bad boyfriend/girlfriend. There will NEVER be a perfect time to leave your job, so just pick a time and a way and go through with it. Two years from now you won't even remember what you were working on when you left (and neither will your coworkers).

I mean really all you should do is refuse to do overtime, but it's extremely hard to say "no" when everyone else on the team says yes. Human psychology isn't going to let us.


Lemmings. On second thought, maybe I wouldn't want to hire you; I need people with backbones.

Re:Grow a sack, you lemmings. (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 6 years ago | (#20853651)

Yes... But why do I get the feeling you've not actually been in this position?

Here's one example... (1)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | more than 6 years ago | (#20854217)

But why do I get the feeling you've not actually been in this position?


Oh, but I have. One time it wasn't a game company, but an insurance company. I was working extra hours every day, not working out anymore, eating like crap at my desk, driving in on weekends, etc. However, the pay and benefits looked decent, I was getting great progress reports and on paper, anyway, there was the opportunity for job enhancement. I was in the middle of the second phase of a change control system project when I realized that if I completed it, the company would tie me to the final product for as long as they possibly could. So...one day I gave them two weeks notice and went to work for a software body shop that was looking for new blood. That lasted for a while through the 1990s, but I got worried that the company didn't have a future (it eventually tanked during the dot-com bust), so I quit again, moved to another state (still without a definite job) and ended up someplace where I made an immediate difference.

So...while "go to company Y" may not be the complete answer, the courage to try to find "company Y" and the skills that allowed me to score the next best-looking position have been extremely useful in my multi-company career.

Re:Here's one example... (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 6 years ago | (#20855619)

Oh, fair enough.

For the record, I won't work overtime without a damn good reason (A good reason is that the work absolutely has to be done and they'll at least give me equivalent time off pay me for the time). I've been burned by the games industy before. Not again.

Re:About the "EA Spouse"... (1)

gryphoness (841454) | more than 6 years ago | (#20855231)

Wow. It took you three years to find the essay and still all you can manage is knee jerk testosterone fairy tale rhetoric? You have the power to google: use it.

(This is "ea_spouse", by the way.)

No, neither of your conjectures are or were correct. This happens to the best in the industry, which is one of the reasons why you don't see a lot of the very established industry personalities talking about it. It isn't something any of us are proud of, but we are still in the process of fixing it. In this particular case there was a lot of history -- very common history -- having to do with financial stress from prior project collapse, EA bringing in a crop of people from that collapsed project (also common), and offering a contracted "signing bonus" in lieu of relocation assistance because in any place other than Los Angeles the commute would have been reasonable, but relocation assistance is based on miles traveled, not hours. So there was a contract for a period of time that could not be exited. And when people get in these situations, do they leave as soon as the contract is up? They sure as hell do. The ability to get another job is not the issue. It is that this situation is not acceptable regardless of whether people can exit it (which they do, constantly, and if you think this level of turnover is either efficient, healthy, or financially advantageous to the company you need to go back to school).

What the knee-jerk "me me me" responders to this issue don't realize, or refuse to realize, is that exiting the situation addresses the symptom but doesn't provide a cure. Frankly paying overtime does the same thing, but the critical difference is that once a company is actively tracking hours and paying overtime, it has the incentive to plan better and make it such that the overtime situations happen as infrequently as possible. The money is not even the issue. It is that it creates an incentive and a data-gathering state -- because a great number of game companies five years ago didn't even *track* how much time was being spent on a project -- that improves the overall process of making games, and therefore improves the games themselves, which is what we all want. And going home once in awhile is nice too.

Yes, it is obvious that when you work in a situation like that, you leave. In fact it is amazing to me that some people don't seem to realize that this is so obvious it doesn't need to be said. But leaving and then not talking about the issue, or leaving and forgetting about it, is selfish, stupid, bad for the industry, and bad for the games. We're fixing it instead.

So...your post was a fake? (1)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | more than 6 years ago | (#20855525)

It took you three years to find the essay and still all you can manage is knee jerk testosterone fairy tale rhetoric?


So...your post was a fake? I'm not following you here...

...once a company is actively tracking hours and paying overtime, it has the incentive to plan better and make it such that the overtime situations happen as infrequently as possible.


I agree on the "plan better" part, but regular overtime is an important component of many companies' business models: if you get people to agree to overtime wages you can often save/skimp on benefits by avoiding additional hires (and their family health care, etc.)

...a great number of game companies five years ago didn't even *track* how much time was being spent on a project -- that improves the overall process...of making games, and therefore improves the games themselves, which is what we all want.


Dunno, as a casual games consumer I really don't care how hard the people worked to make the games. I usually play only the best of each genre anyway, and I rarely end up having to pay for that privilege. If more relaxed work conditions help you make better games, that's great, but if 85-hour days are required instead I really don't care either way.

But leaving and then not talking about the issue, or leaving and forgetting about it, is selfish, stupid, bad for the industry, and bad for the games. We're fixing it instead.


"The quality of life of game programmers" still seems like a low priority issue to me, but whatever you want to do in your free time is OK with me as long as it doesn't end up costing me in some way.

Re:So...your post was a fake? (1)

gryphoness (841454) | more than 6 years ago | (#20856479)

You'll have to explain what confused you before I can answer -- I don't know which "post" you're referring to or how it could be "fake", but neither of them were. To be absolutely clear, I was mocking your highly reductionistic short-sighted view of the situation.

There is no competent business model that relies on overtime. The fact that overtime becomes an issue is as a result of poor business practices. In a salaried work environment (which almost all software development environments are) "overtime" should not even be a concept because the purpose of salary is to pay for product and not for hours. When the business environment degrades to the point where you have to start counting in order to address a compensation issue, that is a failure. (Note that the "to address" is key there -- it is smart to count from the beginning purely for purposes of refining production process and billing clients.) There are countless studies that have shown that productivity decreases dramatically when you pass the 40 hr/week model. "Overtime" is occasionally necessary as triage, but should never be part of a "business model". If you plan for crunch, you are setting yourself up for a world of pain.

It's nice for you that you don't care about the people who make the goods that you consume, I suppose, but I find that short-sighted as well. It will and does cost you, in the long run.

Re:So...your post was a fake? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20862211)

"...and I rarely end up having to pay for that privilege."

What do you mean by that?

Re:So...your post was a fake? (1)

MadHatter2005 (886375) | more than 6 years ago | (#20871873)

"...and I rarely end up having to pay for that privilege." What do you mean by that?
It means he is less than 30 years old and hasn't grown out of his let-them-eat-cake-cuz-its-all-about-me-me-me phase.

DUDE THIS IS TOTALLY (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20842215)

RADICAL!!

Lameness filter encountered. Post aborted!
Reason: Your comment looks too much like ascii art.

EA response (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 6 years ago | (#20842853)

In response, Electronic Arts stated that it has agreed to reduce the company's cats-o'-nine-tails [wikipedia.org] down to only seven tails.

Re:EA response (1)

FiveDollarYoBet (956765) | more than 6 years ago | (#20843497)

Latest memo from the HR Dept:
The beatings will continue until morale improves

I've seen this first-hand (1)

merreborn (853723) | more than 6 years ago | (#20842855)

I was looking for a new position about a month ago. A coworkers had moved to a higher paying position with a web consulting shop down in San Diego, and got me in contact with management there. They pay all their developers salary + overtime, and they seem to tend to hire people with as little as ~2 years of LAMP development experience.

Being a web consulting shop, they're always on tight deadlines, so they push their employees pretty hard. But at least they get payed for it.

Could be the wrong solution (4, Insightful)

cliffski (65094) | more than 6 years ago | (#20844135)

I used to work in AAA game dev, now work for myself. I'm not sure paying overtime is the solution. If I'm paid by the hour and I have a bad ass bug, yet I have a brainwave and fix it in 20 mins, I'm going to avoid checking it in, chat on msn, play peggle for 3 hours and pocket the 3 hours extra wages. Who is going to know? I'd be very surprised if this doesn't lead to longer dev times, rather than shorter, its all about incentives.
If there is more cash available, the solution is good, regular bonuses, and higher salaries. The problem is the management obsession wit bums on seats and hours clocked in. Coders and designers especially are knowledge workers. It's to do with clear thinking, experience, efficiency and inspiration. you can't chain someone to a desk and expect them to produce a linear amount of results per hour. Coding and designing is not bricklaying. Management panic that they can't tell if a game coder is working hard or not, or whether he good at his job or not, so they settle for the one metric they understand -> hours worked.
It's a deeply flawed method, and paying them for the extra hours just penalizes those who are more efficient and get stuff done faster. Pay people by results.

It's more about accountability and tracking (1)

gryphoness (841454) | more than 6 years ago | (#20858405)

Agreed that this is not a "final solution" measure when it comes to better process. But the advantage in addressing the overtime issue is when it comes to tracking productivity in general. Product does not equal time, but time is a trackable resource whereas frequently the product itself is inconsistent (lines of code do not equal time do not equal product, either, for instance).

When you track time, and particularly when companies are held accountable (ie paying) for time spent, what this does is give them incentive for committing to reasonable delivery dates and content. When the company has a penalty for overcommiting, when it makes a commitment *to the developer* to have reasonable scheduling, there is a catch in place to track and therefore analyze and evaluate the efficiency of the process. So it's not really about the money *alone*, though compensating people for the work they put in is reasonable and positive too.

The general problem is when a company will overcommit to what they can deliver in a certain timeframe, and when they can't make it, the developers are the ones to suck up the penalty, while the company (as a whole, as a unit) can frequently have no "memory" of this happening because there is no tracking system in place. Free Radical here is not saying they are going to plan to run heinous overtime -- in fact it's highly likely they wouldn't be able to afford to. What they are saying is that they will hold themselves accountable for maintaining a schedule, and will compensate if they fail to do so. Ultimately overtime is a management/business failure (either in terms of planning or hiring the people that can deliver on what they plan), so for it to be only on the shoulders of the individual developer is not reasonable. When crunch actually results in numbers on a sheet that go to the top of the company and suddenly becomes an issue of "whoa, this title was X over budget because of X overtime", things are more quantifiable and are addressed faster, as opposed to the slow erosion of company morale and high turnover that results from heavy OT situations without tracking or compensation.

Paying by the hour isn't the be-all end-all to this situation, but if it results in more conscientious scheduling, that scheduling will benefit everyone. The developers are still core salary, the majority of their paycheck is coming from a salaried rate, and the difference paid in overtime -- and when there is serious crunch that is actually going to cause the company overtime, it is not a case of some people getting the work done on time and leaving and others continuing without them, it's usually the team as a whole -- is not going to be significant enough, I think, to provide a motivating "penalty" for people who work faster than others. The majority of the cases where this is going to apply are going to be beyond the scope of a regular work schedule, and if someone is milking overtime pay without getting management permission for that overtime due to an extenuating circumstance, that's an individual problem that would likely be addressed one-on-one.

Overtime hours (1)

XavidX (1117783) | more than 6 years ago | (#20849133)

I dunno. I sometimes think that companies that offer overtime pay you less to compensate for the wage difference. I would rather get paid a monthly wage that is quite good instead of overtime. That way I can work harder at work so I dont have to stay after hours and still get a nice pay check.

The big companies already do this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20850805)

FYI, Activision, EA, and pretty much all the other major publishers all switched over to OT pay for many developers over a year ago. I work at Activision, and worked at EA a while back, and nowadays, every dev under a certain level gets OT pay (California state law prohibits OT pay for people making more than a certain amount).
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