Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Oh, For the Life of a Garment Worker

Several of you have sent me links to the burgeoning Electronic Arts controversy. By 'controversy' I mean the allegations that EA treats its employees like shit.

Sure, I know that employees in the gaming industry are generally treated like meat in Upton Sinclair's The Jungle. I get that. The larger a company grows, though, the more responsibility it accepts as a corporation for the ethical treatment of its employees. This isn't a company that might not make its next payroll--it's the largest entertainment software company in the world.

Here's what started everything: http://www.livejournal.com/users/ea_spouse/. It's a journal post by the wife of an EA employee, and she spares no punches. I can't summarize it and give it justice, so please take a look and then return. Again, I know that working in the game industry is pretty brutal, but the journal post alleges systematic corporate mistreatment as a matter of policy.

In the old days (two years ago), this kind of complaint would never have been heard. Now, though, these kinds of things can land like a match in dry tinder, and before you know it something's on fire. This has gotten so much attention in the last two weeks that The New York Times did a story last weekend, and you can find it here:
If it's not coming up from that link, the story is titled "When a Video Game Stops Being Fun." It will probably be in the pay archive within another two days or so (the Times has articles online for free for about a week, and after that it's pay to play), so take a look while you can.

The Times mentions in the article that there is a class-action suit in progress against Electronic Arts with an allegation of failure to pay overtime compensation. It's going to be very interesting to see how that unfolds.

There is also an excellent link in the article to an International Game Developer's Association article about a 'quality of life' survey they conducted with over one thousand game developers. You need to register to download the paper, but registration is free, and here's the link to the abstract: http://www.igda.org/qol/whitepaper.php.

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