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The Almighty Buck Entertainment Games

Programmer Sues VU Games Over Excessive Work Hours 106

Posted by simoniker
from the finish-the-game dept.
eToychest writes "According to Reuters, a video game programmer has sued Vivendi Universal Games, claiming he and his colleagues were regularly forced to work extra hours and denied overtime pay. The suit, filed Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court, is one of many filed against companies in the state in recent months, as employees seek to be classified as overtime-eligible to obtain compensation for working more than 8 hours a day or 40 hours a week. The suit seeks payment of back overtime wages plus other damages. This comes the recent announcement that the company said it would cut more than one-third of its staff, excluding Blizzard. Of the things mentioned in the suit, the complaints include no overtime compensation, and employees being ordered to falsify timesheets to indicate they worked shorter days." This report is especially interesting in light of the recent IGDA 'Quality Of Life' survey for game developers.
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Programmer Sues VU Games Over Excessive Work Hours

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  • Mmm... (Score:5, Funny)

    by smileyy (11535) <smileyy@gmail.com> on Wednesday June 30, 2004 @11:31AM (#9572016)
    Wholly unregulated capitalism combined with high unemployment rates! The best way evar to disenfranchise the worker.
    • Sounds to me more like people who so badly want to be high paid programmers are willing to take an excessivly stressful job.
    • by MBraynard (653724)
      Please. When were you born, 1997? High unemployment would be double digits. You know, like it is all the time in Europe. Many economists still think that full employment is 5%. Today it's at ~6.5% and jobs are being created faster than ever - luring more people from semi-retirment or non-working status to unemployed/job seeking status. Get a clue, Democrat.
      • by Poseidon88 (791279)
        That's a national rate. In the last couple years, some states have had rates as high as 8.5%, and that's only counting the people who applied for unemployment benefits. Add in the homeless and people who just decided to live off their savings for a while, and I imagine you'd probably break that double-digits barrier. Not sure what this has to do with the story, though. All too often, these days, employers are trying to cut costs by hiring fewer people to do more work, and not compensating them for the e
      • That's *bleeding heart liberal* to you, thank you.
  • the problem is... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by thebdj (768618) on Wednesday June 30, 2004 @11:33AM (#9572034) Journal
    Many times when this occurs the employees in question are salaried employees. People who make a flat monthly rate are a bit harder to pay overtime for than your standard hourly employee. Also you will find that places will usually explain to those people that they may be required to work extra hours and perform overtime and this is usually seen in their pay.

    Something I would really like to know is if any employers actually pay their salaried workers a bit more knowing they will have to work overtime or if they manage ways to pay overtime or give them extra time off for working the overtime. While quitting may not always be an option as finding a replacement job is not always easy, it is still available as a way to get out of these types of bad situations.

    In reality it may come down to forcing states to once again rework labor laws. Since in almost every state salaried workers are exempt from overtime pay they can become slave labor and while some companies may seemingly be able to get away with this, it isn't good for the people they have working for them. While removing the exemption may cost some companies more money, the smart ones will simple hire more workers to lower the overtime load since that would be cheaper than paying someone to work 60+ hours a week every week.
    • Re:the problem is... (Score:5, Informative)

      by mkohel (746755) on Wednesday June 30, 2004 @12:01PM (#9572358)
      If I recall my employment law class correctly, just being salaried is not enough to make you exempt from overtime. Of course this probably differs state to state. Heres a link http://www.ewin.com/articles/exneot.htm
      If an employee does not meet even one of the criteria, he or she is not exempt (non-exempt) from the provisions of the law. ....

      Exempt Professional Employees are those employed in a bona fide professional capacity whose primary work requires knowledge of an advanced type in a field of science or learning customarily acquired through a prolonged course of intellectual instruction and study, as distinguished from a general academic education and from training in the performance of routine mental, manual or physical processes;

      and/or work that is original and creative in character in a recognized field;

      and whose work requires discretion or judgment in its performance; and work which is predominantly intellectual and varied in character and is of such character that the output produced cannot be standardized in relation to a given period of time;

      and who does not devote more than 20% of his time to nonexempt activities;

      and who is compensated at the rate of $1,150 a month.

      • But *I think* companies can still make you sign a contract as terms of your employment that says that they will not pay overtime under any circumstances and that you "may be asked from time to time to work above normal hours as projects dictate" or something like that.

        So yeah, back to square one.

      • and who is compensated at the rate of $1,150 a month.

        I may be reading these multiple negations incorrectly, but am I to understand that this person whose primary work requires knowledge of an advanced type in a field of science or learning customarily acquired through a prolonged course of intellectual instruction and study, as distinguished from a general academic education and from training is not qualified for overtime pay if he/she earns more than $1,150 per month?! When was this written, 1970? Wh

    • by TykeClone (668449) <TykeClone@gmail.com> on Wednesday June 30, 2004 @12:03PM (#9572388) Homepage Journal
      With benefits and stuff, the breakeven is probably more around 70 hours (what you pocket is less than half of what you cost a company).
    • Re:the problem is... (Score:5, Informative)

      by DeadEye (6229) on Wednesday June 30, 2004 @12:17PM (#9572593) Homepage
      What I've often been told (and I am a game programmer working on a major PS2 title [demonstone.com]) is that "the compensation for your overtime was built into your salary". Of course, they only tell you that after it becomes an issue, not when you are negotiating contracts. In the end, it's the video game industry, and as much as people would like to compare the video game industry with the movie industry, one thing they actually have in common is that they simply would not be possible without the dedication and passion the developers put into them. There is nothing particularly smart or revolutionary about the business end of those industries, it's all in the "little" people who actually do the work. Long story short, you have to want to do it, and it will be hell at times.
      • by Creepy (93888)
        Wow - you didn't know that before hand? I suppose having had two salaried parents made me more aware of it earlier in life.

        The whole idea of salaried workers is to avoid unplanned budgeting expenses and so overtime is built into the base pay. Unfortunately, it leads to far too much abuse, especially in the tech industry. Far too many of us are _expected_ to work more than 40 hours a week, which is just wrong unless they tell you in advance (e.g. you'll get $80k, but you'll work 50+ hour days every wee
        • Well it is nice to see you guys all lubed up and ready for your employers, both presant and future. Keep making excuses for your employer and remember to never make waves!
          Man, if you swallow HR dogma that well, I would hire you and make you work for peanuts and fruit skins...

          The whole idea of salaried workers in IT is that they are deparate fools who end up taking a shafting by a insanely capitalist government. Overtime is NOT worked into the salary, they pay them a standard wage (just enough to lure th
        • The first time? No, I did not know that beforehand. Everyone has to learn once either by being told or going through it themselves, etc. Subsequent times I knew it and factored it in to my decision making. I was just trying to offer one person's experience (mine), with a similar situation. As far as having salaried parents, my parents seldom if ever discussed their contract negotiations and salries with me, but I did know that my father who was a teacher for 25+ years worked after school, after dinner, etc.
        • "...but you'll work 50+ hour days..."

          Hopefully you won't have to work too many of those 50-hour days.
    • by Alizarin Erythrosin (457981) on Wednesday June 30, 2004 @02:18PM (#9573869)
      While removing the exemption may cost some companies more money, the smart ones will simple hire more workers to lower the overtime load since that would be cheaper than paying someone to work 60+ hours a week every week.

      In my case, it's cheaper for us to have our techs work 8 hours a day 7 days a week to push product out than it is to hire another person. Once you factor in benefits, training, paperwork, HR overhead, and all that jazz the cost of a new hire is cheaper.

      When I switched from contract to full time employee, I requested a bump in pay to compensate for the fact that I would no longer get time and a half over 40 hours. I was flat out denied. I lose about $800 a month now because of it. I happen to know how much the contract agency was charging the company (I was replacing somebody so they brought me in through a contract agency to train). If they would have given me half the difference per hour extra, it would have actually been more then I was requesting.
  • Salaried, nonexempt employees are not paid for their hours, they're paid to get a job done, regardless of the time it takes. That can mean working extra hours in the crunch time, or taking off a couple hours early on Friday to play golf. Do these people really WANT to be hourly employees? I sure as hell don't.
    • by xenocide2 (231786) on Wednesday June 30, 2004 @11:55AM (#9572279) Homepage
      The problem is, how often do you take time off to play a round of golf? If the company's doing their job viciously, never. Game companies especially, are not kind in the hours dept. They're typically understaffed and over worked. Once a game ships, you might get a week, or perhaps a month, off. Or you might complete Myst 3 and find yourself fired because your bosses aren't competent enough to keep the work coming in at a regular pace.

      Basically, employers too often want to work a salaried employee like an hourly without the hassle of overtime.
      • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Wednesday June 30, 2004 @12:32PM (#9572797) Journal
        They call it being flexible, you being able to start early, leave late, work weekends and be on call. Of course when you need a morning off to visit the dentist all hell breaks loose.

        It sounds nice but in reality there are very few workplaces where the flexibilty goes both ways.

        You should try suggesting that if you stayed late that the next day you will be in late. Most bosses don't even seem to get the concept. I did work at one place that was fun and had amazingly long hours (so long I even just stayed overnight rather then spend more time travelling home then sleeping) but after a while I realized that while I had more money coming in I had far far more going out (pizza, late night shopping, etc) then doing regular 40hr work.

    • **
      Salaried, nonexempt employees are not paid for their hours, they're paid to get a job done, regardless of the time it takes. That can mean working extra hours in the crunch time, or taking off a couple hours early on Friday to play golf.
      **

      That's all nice and good. IF the job is even possible to do in the timeframe, which means that you'd be doing extra hours for the crunch time that would last all year long from year to year.

      of course, this might shed some light into some issues why some games are done
    • Just becuase you are salaried does not make you non-exempt. The article says these are non-exempt employees, and therefore should be entitled to overtime.
      How you can be a non-exempt programmer is beyond me, but that's a different issue.
      • by Colazar (707548) on Wednesday June 30, 2004 @12:27PM (#9572740)
        How you can be a non-exempt programmer is beyond me, but that's a different issue.

        There's a checklist on conditions that you have to meet to be exempt (which I don't remember all of off the top of my head), but the gist of it boils down to this: you can't be exempt unless you have control.

        To be exempt you really have to be a manager (supervise other people) or have near-complete control over how and when you do your job. It is very difficult to *compell* overtime from an exempt employee--it may end up being necessary logistically to get the job done, but that is employee's decision, *not* the employer's. Special circumstances can over-ride this, of course, but if there are "special circumstances" a good percentage of the time, then those circumstances aren't really very special anymore, and the job has probably been mis-classified.

        • From what I recall (my brief visit to DOL found nothing except the forthcoming changes to the FLSA) is that you were exempt if you were:
          Professional (engineer, programmer, etc)
          Administrative (CEO, manager, etc)
          and, uh, something else.

          Anyhow, it would seem that a programmer ought to fall under the Professional category. Perhaps that is a bit fuzzy under the current FLSA, which may be why they've revised it (and to get a bunch of new people classed exempt).

          As far as compelling overtime, that's easy. Just
          • From what I recall (my brief visit to DOL found nothing except the forthcoming changes to the FLSA) is that you were exempt if you were: Professional (engineer, programmer, etc)

            I'm a non-exempt professional in a usually-exempt profession (CPA). Just being professional is not enough. It's one of the indicators that there's a *good chance* that you are exempt, but you still have to meet the other criteria. But companies get nailed for this all the time by making assumptions. Every place I've worked has been

          • in order to be a Professional, in California, you have to have passed a state licence, like architect, lawyer, doctor, or accountant (the BAR exam)

            Computer professionals, surpisingly, have their own section in the california code. one of the requirements for them being exxept is that their hourly rate as of (jan 2004) exceed 44.63 dollars an hour. So if you're working 60 hours a week, you should be making (and I round down) $139000 per year.

            See: http://www.management-advantage.com/products/over t ime-exem
    • >That can mean working extra hours in the crunch time, or taking off a couple hours early on Friday to play golf.

      If you are doing the later, I'm sure that someone higher up would love to know about this. Either they would like to give you more work or they don't need you at all.

      >Do these people really WANT to be hourly employees?

      Because it enforces equal work for equal pay.
      • If you are doing the later, I'm sure that someone higher up would love to know about this. Either they would like to give you more work or they don't need you at all.

        Well, I'd be happy to turn myself in, but I was invited along by the CIO, and my boss was among the managers on the latest trip out, so it might not have much effect. Apparently some companies recognize excellent work and treat employees well to keep them happy.

        Because it enforces equal work for equal pay.

        This coming from someone posting
    • At my last job, I was a salaried exempt employee. That's what they told me. I didn't get paid for overtime. Fair enough, I'm on a salary. What pissed me off was that if I worked less than 8 hours, my pay was reduced accordingly, as if I was paid an hourly wage. They wanted it both ways.
    • I used to be an hourly employee, and was switched (kinda) to salaried. I would like to go back to hourly.

      Rather, a legitimate question: what's wrong with hourly?
    • So it is allright if they demand you work 22 hours in a row for 5 days?

      Give me a break, some people should get a sense of what is logic and what is ludicrous.

      You may have signed a contract but there is a point where demands put upon you are not reasonlable, no matter what you signed.
    • Sure, that all sounds good, but let me put it to you this way. I left my salaried job where I was working 60-70 hrs/wk for an hourly job working 40 hours/wk (unless it's a deadline or something). I make over three times at the hourly job as as the salaried job for much less work.

      So you can keep your pride. I'll take the money and free time, thanks.

    • that's the line my employers have taken, so when I have to live at the office for 80-85 hours over 7 days, it is my own fault. which is fine. but almost never have I found that I can take the time off early. why? not that I have a load of work all the time, sometimes we get ahead and can relax a bit, but that the brass up top thinks it "looks bad" so the same developer that pulled an 80 hr week will get griped at for "unprofessionalism" the following week when he skives off friday at lunchtime and doesn
  • by the_skywise (189793) on Wednesday June 30, 2004 @11:54AM (#9572272)
    I worked at a pizza place while going to college. The managers there regularly worked 60 hour weeks for their salary. 9 hours to manage the business plus about 2-3 hours afterwards to handle closing and settling up the paperwork and bills for the night then dropping the cash off at the bank.

    Salaried employees aren't paid x dollars for y time of work. They're paid x dollars to do a JOB.

    I worked in the game industry too. Yeah, it was a sweatshop at times. It was also a LOT of fun. The sweatshop attitude wasn't entirely management's fault. They wanted a game in 12 months. We wanted a GREAT game and would regularly spend the extra time coding and experimenting to get the best result. Then, of course, we'd slip and management would hold us to our time. Then we'd get pissed at management and management would get pissed at us and the death march would begin.

    The point is that it's not all "evil" management's fault. (Sometimes it is, but not always). But ultimately, the choice to work 80 hour work weeks lies with the individual, not the company.
    • by LordZardoz (155141) on Wednesday June 30, 2004 @12:13PM (#9572547)
      And I somewhat disagree with your statement.

      No one gets in the game industry to make great cash on an 'easy' job. Those that try usually quit when they realize how hard it is. And more money can generally be made doing other programming work, at least before mass outsourcing of such non-game work became common.

      So yes, Game programmers typically make games because they want to, first and foremost.

      Now, some people are workaholics, and would do the 80 hour thing, or near to it, by choice. But not everyone. Scheduling is pushed by the publishers, and management agree to it, and the programmers have to deal with it.

      If a game company schedules a project assuming all staff will want to work 14 hour days for 3 and 4 month stretches, the game will suck.

      Now, if a project starts to go bad and you start to have to work a death march that the employees were not told to expect at the outset, then the employer has breached the agreement. Salary is not a commission. Salary is "Perform Task X over time Y for amount of Cash Z". If they change the nature of X or Y, then Z should also change.

      My boss compensates for overtime. Lord knows we have to work it, but it is ultimately compensated. Perhaps your company just is not as good as mine?

      END COMMUNICATION
      • by Phronesis (175966) on Wednesday June 30, 2004 @01:48PM (#9573599)
        The article states that the employees were paid for a 40 hour week, and used time cards, which management pressured them to falsify in order to understate actual hours worked. If the employees held exempt salaried positions, then time cards would not have been necessary.

        The problem here seems to be that management wanted it both ways---they wanted to hire the employees as hourly, not salaried workers, but not to pay them for all the hours worked. There would be no grounds for a lawsuit if management had been upfront about this being a salaried, unlimited hours position.

    • Look up the definition of exempt here [dol.gov]. It has nothing to do with whether or not you are salaried. Managers are by definition, exempt and therefore don't have to be paid overtime.

      If you are classified an exempt employee, you have no right to bitch about not getting paid overtime... 80 hrs is part of the job. OTOH, non exempt employees are required by law to get paid overtime, and judging by the assertion in the article ("forging time sheets"), it sure looks like "evil management".
    • Salaried employees are paid to do a job. Not their job and bob the lazy asses job. Not their job and joe who they fired 6 months ago for "downsizing to produce a more dynamic workforce".

      My job is to manage the contracts I have, and do some programming work for my group on the side. If I have more than a week where I can't get it done in 40 hours, unless I'm slacking off it's not my problem, it's my management's fault for not having enough staff to handle the workload.

      Salaried does not mean slave.
    • >Salaried employees aren't paid x dollars for y time of work. They're paid x dollars to do a JOB.

      And if a salaried employee consistently works more efficiently and finishes his JOB early, does he get to take that time off or does he simply get more work?
  • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Wednesday June 30, 2004 @12:26PM (#9572722) Journal
    I can't believe some of the posts. You are not paid to work 40 hours you are paid to get a job done? What the fuck?

    Imagine this attitude in a factory. You are charged with screwing X into Y and half way down your shift something somewhere breaks and the entire line grinds to a hault. Well obviously lost production, what happens then in america or according to these posters? You don't get paid? You have to work unpaid overtime to make up for the lost time?

    All I can say is thank god for unions in europe then, real unions.

    There are basically 3 kinds of jobs

    • Pure per hour work, think plumbers and such. No such thing as overtime. Imagine if that was true, your plumber could just charge you 100% extra saying he was on overtime :)
    • basic worker, you get a X hour contract and are expected to do your job during those hours minus breaks. Extra hours get paid extra.
    • Fixed pay, higher positions can have this. Anyone from movie stars to directors get a fixed amount but are supposed to do the job that needs to be done regardless of hours.

    It is up to the boss to ensure in all cases that the person they employ actually performs as desired during the working hours but if there is simply to much work for the number of hours then this is not the problem of the employee in the first two salary situations.

    Of course now the questions is where these programmers belong. Are they no different from a person working the assembly line or are they a director level employee.

    Funny thing is that despite huge differences in working attitude around the world it seems impossible to say wich way is the right way. Japan was at one time a leader and look at them now. America had the assembly line and the highly paid worker with a car and freestanding house but recent news stories suggest america is no longer able to keep that up either.

    Europe is to fragmented to make any real conslusions. My own country holland is amazingly well balanced with work in every field from farming to high tech stuff so we tend to feel fluctuations less then say detroit in the US when the car market shifted (we lost daf cars and it was news but it means a few thousand job losses not an entire city going down the shitter).

    • The whole reason they pay people a salary is that they don't want to pay them hourly. If you don't like working the hours you're forced to work, work for someone else. I don't see why you can't accept this view.

      Japan is still a leader, and without transfer of technology and processes from Japan to America, American automakers (for example) would have gone in the toilet as the majority of american electronics companies have done - they've gone under or they've gone to other countries.

      Of course, I'd like

      • I bet you disagree with the minimum wage laws and unions as well then.
        • Not at all. The minimum wage is a tip of the hat to reality, and it needs to be around. I'm torn on the issue of unions because they seem to so frequently be abused, but on the other hand, slavery is illegal for a reason, and labor without labor unions is the next best thing really. For companies, that is.

          Actually I think the minimum wage should be a little less minimum, but I know people hate paying taxes.

    • In the US there are strict rules about who gets salary and who doesn't.
      People like you described who screw X into Y are non-exempt hourly workers. They are more like extensions of the machines on the assembly line, they are not allowed to use their own judgement, they are just performing a specific task, usually exactly according to a written specification (if the company follows ISO rules). If the assembly line breaks down, they still just sit idle but get their hourly wage. Companies get into alot of t [tristatenews.com]
    • You claim you don't understand that programmers are paid to get a job done regardless of hours:
      You are not paid to work 40 hours you are paid to get a job done? What the fuck?

      Then you go on to explain it quite well:
      Fixed pay, higher positions can have this. Anyone from movie stars to directors get a fixed amount but are supposed to do the job that needs to be done regardless of hours.

      You don't have to be a movie star to have a "fixed pay". Most professionals in America have a version of it. Of cour
  • by DaveJay (133437) on Wednesday June 30, 2004 @01:17PM (#9573253)
    I've read forums about things like this before, where companies pressure employees to falsify timesheets.

    Often, the response from many is "so what, most if not all companies do that" or something similar.

    I just wanted to say that the company I currently work for as a programmer started using timesheets, and from day one to now, at all levels, with no exceptions (and I work over 50 hours a week on a regular basis, sometimes over 60) it has always been clearly stated:

    "Do NOT falsify your timesheets. If you worked 80 hours last week, write it down. If we don't track time accurately, we don't know if you're all being overworked, and we won't realize we need to hire more people. So BE ACCURATE and don't hide the fact that you're working longer hours."

    It should be no surprise, then, to learn that we not only survived the dot-bomb years, but we're growing so fast worldwide we can't find enough qualified people to fill the openings we're creating every day, even though we're hiring a LOT of people.

    There's a lesson in there somewhere. ;)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 30, 2004 @01:23PM (#9573327)
    I've worked for a bunch of game companies including Origin, Ion Storm, and elsewhere. And I'm here to tell you, they are _not_ fun: they are the equivalent of 19th century sweatshops. Most places I worked, myself and other programmers routinely turned in 80-100 work weeks -- not because we were excited or invested in our job, but because we were told point blank that we would be fired otherwise. There is practically _no_ compensation. Most managers sneer at the idea of comp days, and the number of folks who've received bonuses or royalties that equalled the amount of time they put into a project is pretty minimal.

    Managers, of course, come and go as they please and don't seem to understand why everyone is so unhappy with the situation. Because, well, isn't this a fun place to work? Don't they buy you dinner when you stay late and take you to see that "Star Wars" film? And hey, you get to have action figures on your desk! The fact that your hourly pay works out to be less than the guys in QA is never mentioned.

    And to that guy who thinks that this is just the price you pay in order to take off on Friday and "play golf," you're obviously misinformed. No one gets to say "Hey, I'm done for the day, how about a round of frisbee?"; if you don't have work to do, you're instructed to find work to do.

    If the joy of making computer games allows you to overlook these issues, then honestly, more power to you. But to act like this guy is somehow biting the hand that feeds him is simply uninformed and ludicrous. I have no idea how the legal rulings will play out, but I wish him all the best. Maybe if one of these companies gets scared, then the rest will preemptively adapt normal business practices (like just about everywhere else), act like grown-ups, and then they really might be fun places to work.
    --
    Lewis
    • I sympathise with you on these issues but I think the situation has become far better than it used to be. Sure, some places may still treat their employees like a cowfarm in california, especially if you work at the only videogame company in the country (like the one in Norway, which is _NOT_ a privilege to work in) but where I have been the last five years or so have all been very careful to keep employees satisfied even if they have to do months of crunch-time and comp-time is common (it may not be more t
    • The fact that your hourly pay works out to be less than the guys in QA is never mentioned.

      I did a stint in QA once, and I saw that happening. I became buddies with one of the audio designers, and for large chunks of the project he would sleep in his soundroom instead of going home and generally work crazy hours. Before long us peons in QA were working crazy hours too -- but we were getting paid doubletime! I felt bad hanging out with the guy when I knew I was getting paid more per hour than he was, even

    • by Psychochild (64124) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `dlihcohcysp'> on Wednesday June 30, 2004 @10:00PM (#9578052) Homepage
      I worked at 3DO while it was still in business, and I have similar stories to tell.

      I think the trick is that game developers originally wanted to stay long hours because they legitimately enjoyed their jobs and wanted to make the best creative efforts they could. While working on Meridian 59 at 3DO, I came in on holidays to put in extra hours to improve it as much as possible. (I loved the game so much that I now own Meridian 59 [meridian59.com].)

      However, I think it evolved into something that was just assumed by managers and worked into the schedule. On the last project I worked on at 3DO (before quitting, mind you) we were told to put in long hours by our managers. The word "fired" wasn't necessarily used, but there was a strong element of peer pressure at work. We were given 6 months to finish a game that realistically should have taken about three times that. Of course, we slipped a few weeks and were blamed for that. We were supposed to ship one day before my birthday, but since we slipped my request for time off on my birthday was denied, even though all my assigned work was done and there wasn't enough time on schedule for me to pick up a new task. (It shouldn't come as a surprise that I was never able to use any vacation time while I was working at 3DO, and when I quit I was maxxed out on accumulated time.)

      As a footnote: I got the last laugh, though, because even though that game was universally panned by critics, the obligatory "good things" that every game review has to include focused on the sound and the map, things I did the programming for!

      Anyway, this issue is one of the reasons why I own my own company now. I still have to work long hours, but at least I'm doing it for my own benefit instead of for the benefit of someone else that profits off of my long hours.

      It'll be interesting to see what happens with this lawsuit. Given the number of companies that do require people to put in the long, hard hours to complete projects, this could have far-reaching effects if it goes against Vivendi.

      Have fun,
  • This story possibly has reprecussions for the entire IT industry. Just because it concerns a game company down't mean it should be restricted to the games section.

    There are plenty of programmers who have been forced to pull an all nighter while the boss goes home to count his stock options.
  • Saskatcewan Laws (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Nos. (179609) <`ac.srrekeht' `ta' `werdna'> on Wednesday June 30, 2004 @01:47PM (#9573590) Homepage
    I went through something similar with an employer not that long ago. I was a salaried employee, supposedly meaning no overtime. However, if I had to miss an hour of work for a doctor's appointment or something, I was docked an hours worth of pay.

    After a month or so of this, we started talking to the labour board, and guess what, doesn't matter if we're salaried, we are eligible for overtime for every hour past 40 in a week that we work. Considering that last month I had been averaging about 70 hours a week (not at my own choice), I ended up taking home a lot more than I usually did, and suddenly, they weren't pushing us to work overtime so much. Might have had something to do with the fact that they probably blew their salary budget for the next few months. Also interesting is the fact that in our labour code, you cannot force and employee to work more than 4 hours per week unless it is an unforseen emergency. I don't think an approaching, or past deadline would qualify.

    In case your wondering, they did try and designate us as professional employees, and thus get away from paying overtime. However, there are precious few positions/professions that qualify. Programmer, Network/Systems Analsyt, etc. do not qualify.

    • in our labour code, you cannot force and employee to work more than 4 hours per week unless it is an unforseen emergency. I don't think an approaching, or past deadline would qualify

      Is that meant to be 40 hours per week? Or 4 hours overtime? If not, where are you working? :)
  • Quit wasting time filing lawsuits and GET BACK TO WORK!
  • Good way to ensure your job gets sent overseas. BC
  • by Tojosan (641739)
    I know I'm not the only programmer out there that isn't a total slave. :)
    The normal routine where I work is about 50 hours a week for a non manager programmer. Sometimes less, sometimes more. Mostly not on the more side. I believe we are fairly compensated for our time too.

    Of course everyone is assigned in a group and thus stuck supporting a small range of apps and new development. Maybe this helps but it also limits your future opportunities.

    Overall I'm betting lots of programmers aren't getting the
  • Abuse of salaried workers has always gone on, but it is becoming more and more endemic within the economy...

    Medical interns regularly work 100 hour weeks. So do articling lawyers. So do investment bankers. So do finance research analysts. So do lots of bankers, senior managers, etc.

    Personally I blame mutual funds. As more and more people started to buy mutual funds and become educated about the stock market, there was increasing pressure on companies to return higher profits. The easiest way to do so is

The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not "Eureka!" (I found it!) but "That's funny ..." -- Isaac Asimov

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