Bob's Links and Rants

Welcome to my rants page! You can contact me by e-mail: Blog roll. Site feed.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

It's in the game

Link chasing...Cyndy has created the Orifice of Homelandabsurdity web site, focusing on the anti-consumerist stuff I'm always ranting about. I should, and plan to, join the site and start contributing to it. But the first thing I did was chase a link there to the WORK LESS Institute of Technology, and a particular post there, which had a comment leading me to this story, which led me to a blog entry. For those readers who didn't chase every link in the previous sentence already (presumably all of you), here's what the blog entry is about. A woman writes that her significant other works for Electronic Arts, the "EA Sports: It's in the game" people. EA is one of the few dominant video-game makers. Basically, since her spouse started working for EA, his working hours have been increased repeatedly without any additional compensation. How much does he work now?
Now, it seems, is the "real" crunch, the one that the producers of this title so wisely prepared their team for by running them into the ground ahead of time. 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. Complaints that these once more extended hours combined with the team's existing fatigue would result in a greater number of mistakes made and an even greater amount of wasted energy were ignored.
And the kicker: for the honor of this treatment EA salaried employees receive a) no overtime; b) no compensation time! ('comp' time is the equalization of time off for overtime -- any hours spent during a crunch accrue into days off after the product has shipped); c) no additional sick or vacation leave. The time just goes away. Additionally, EA recently announced that, although in the past they have offered essentially a type of comp time in the form of a few weeks off at the end of a project, they no longer wish to do this, and employees shouldn't expect it.
Because, I guess, "Madden 2005" can't wait until 2006, and you can't expect today's easily-bored kids to keep playing "Madden 2004" forever (and where's the money in that?).

My brother out in the silicon valley recently left a job where he frequently worked hours like that. I don't think he was explicitly told he had to (although he did seem to have to go to a lot of meetings Friday at 9 pm or Sunday morning and such), but he felt compelled to work long hours because everyone else at the company did, and people were being laid off into a depressed job market (I guess they could go work for EA). I know there are some people so wrapped up in their work that they have no problem with outrageous hours. But in a country as absurdly wealthy as ours, there's absolutely no reason for anybody to have to work more than probably about 20 hours a week--except that we've got a corrupt and wasteful economic system that emphasizes all of the wrong values.