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The Dark Side of Making L.A. Noire 242

Posted by Soulskill
from the games-are-serious-business dept.
JameskPratt writes "Long-time readers have no illusions of how awful the video game industry can treat its workers. Eleven ex-employee of Team Bondi, who made LA Noire, have now cited 60- to 110-hour work weeks, unusual compensation rules, and the 7-year development cycle as reasons for frustration and discontent. They claim their boss, Brendan McNamara, crushed office morale with verbal abuse and unreasonable goals. As the saying goes, the two things you don't want to see being made are law and video games." The International Game Developers Association will be investigating the matter.
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The Dark Side of Making L.A. Noire

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  • No way... (Score:5, Funny)

    by the linux geek (799780) on Wednesday June 29, 2011 @02:22AM (#36607978)
    Asshole bosses and ridiculous work hours? In the software industry? Say it ain't so!
    • Re:No way... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Nursie (632944) on Wednesday June 29, 2011 @02:30AM (#36608016)

      You're doing it wrong.

      I've had a pretty reasonable software career so far. 10 years, decent money (nothing spectracular, but decent) and outside of about two months of actual, genuine, crunchtime in there I've never worked more than 38-40 hours a week. Often less!

      There are some parts of the industry that are not managed by psychopaths, or permanently in OMG PANIC mode.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        but this is about the GAMING industry.. quite a different environment.

      • Re:No way... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ShakaUVM (157947) on Wednesday June 29, 2011 @03:13AM (#36608154) Homepage Journal

        >>There are some parts of the industry that are not managed by psychopaths, or permanently in OMG PANIC mode.

        Yeah, and even game development doesn't have to be crazy like that. LA Noire, IIRC, was handed the GTA engine on a platter, so they didn't/shouldn't have needed to worry about implementation details too much except their game-specific stuff (interviews and the like).

        I'll have the occasional crunchtime... but I generally see crunchtime as a sign of bad time management skills, on my part or someone else's. Or, very infrequently, as the result of a crisis.

        When I used to work doing game development, it was a 9 to 5 job, and I had a perfectly reasonable manager and very intelligent co-workers. YMMV, in other words, in the game industry and outside of it.

        • by Xtravar (725372)

          I think the problem is that more people would put up with that kind of crap for "their dream job programming teh games". Just like illegal immigrants put up with crap to "live in teh americas".

          And possibly also the personality type that's attracted to making games. That's usually the type that "I like games, so I will learn how to program" rather than "I like to program, so maybe I will program games". In my experience the former ain't as smat.

        • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Wednesday June 29, 2011 @06:29AM (#36608934)

          Simply because, as Duke Nukem Forever is an excellent example of, assets have a short shelf life. Once you have things ready to assemble in to a game, you have to do it fairly expediently, like a year, so that things don't get stale.

          Now that doesn't necessarily result in crunch time and sure as hell should be all the time crunch time, but you can see why it is a situation that can favour it for a bit on a project.

          However that said there's a real difference between "The game ships in a month, we need you to do what it takes to get the final testing and polishing done in that time," and a perpetual, 80+ hour a week crunch.

          • by Zarhan (415465)

            Simply because, as Duke Nukem Forever is an excellent example of, assets have a short shelf life. Once you have things ready to assemble in to a game, you have to do it fairly expediently, like a year, so that things don't get stale.

            Yeah...that's why Valve is in such a rush to get Half-Life 2 Ep 3 out.

        • Re:No way... (Score:5, Informative)

          by Xest (935314) on Wednesday June 29, 2011 @07:44AM (#36609280)

          Yes, I'd say really that situations like this are even the exception in the industry rather than the norm now too.

          From what I understand, much of Rockstar has historically always been like this, I have a close friend who worked in Rockstar Vienna before it collapsed, he got out about a month beforehand and was telling me long before it collapsed how messed up it was with very similar issues as those mentioned here.

          The game industry has had to improve somewhat because developers have begun to realise that there's far more money in business software, and far less stress, because employers are more frequently treated like humans.

          I've also never had a problem doing software development, my hours are 8:30 - 4:30pm Mon - Thurs, and 8:30 - 4pm Friday and I've never had to work a minute of overtime. My last job was only slightly worse in that I finished at 5pm each day, and the pay wasn't as good, but that's really just because of career progression.

      • There are some parts of the industry that are not managed by psychopaths, or permanently in OMG PANIC mode.

        As an overall industry though, it does seem to have more than its fair share of sociopaths in management positions.

        • I am in a different industry but a team I left recently went exactly that way. A new (and not very good) management team were brought in and suddenly it was panic panic. Everybody run around at a mad pace trying to get the work done. I suggested a process improvement to get around a data transfer which was costing them 12 hours at a time but they ignored it because there "wasn't enough time".

          I say bad management but really upper management see people being goaded into working long hours. Job done.

      • Re:No way... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by hey! (33014) on Wednesday June 29, 2011 @08:24AM (#36609528) Homepage Journal

        The secret is to work in a field that is useful, but unglamorous. Best treatment I ever had was in my first job, working on inventory software.

      • It's not just software. IT jobs in general can either be very good, very bad, or in between. The problem is whether or not managers understand the difficulty of the job, and whether they micromanage. Software and administration are capable of self-motivational work, software more so than administration. But in my line of work on the administration side, I know what will work, what won't work, and what might work, and which is the easiest to try or what may have the largest payoff.

        The biggest problem I've

    • by cshark (673578) on Wednesday June 29, 2011 @02:43AM (#36608046)

      Yeah, I'm gonna need you to come in on the weekend... um, yeah...

      • by creat3d (1489345)
        Oh, I almost forgot, we're gonna need you to go ahead and come in on Sunday as well... see, there's this group of crybabies that didn't want to work 110 hour weeks and just walked out, so... we sort of need to play catch up. Mmmmkay?
        • by rtb61 (674572)

          Sure, it really must be hard when you can't find the coders and are always trying to catch up. I'm sorry but I can't make it this weekend, I have a "private" (you don't burn up excuses and you don't need to make one up) family emergency to deal with. How about we discuss a pay rise Monday and I should be available next weekend.

          If they are needing to work lots of overtime it is a sign of two things, they can not get any more coders for what they are paying and you are being underpaid, leverage use it but

    • Re:No way... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by j-stroy (640921) on Wednesday June 29, 2011 @03:13AM (#36608150)
      Percentage of overall software sales should be mandated by law for employees and contractors. The boundary for this should include coders, artists & platform port teams, but stop somewhere before functionaries such as translation and printing ad copy. It avoids but does not preclude the "union" issue. The residual would accumulate after the percentage accumulation passes the salary earned on the project. It would protect against the disenfranchisement and emotional/fiscal abuse that occurs, yet still allow producers to have a reasonable break even point.

      This whole "brand" licensing thing has funneled the money away from those who actually do the work, and the trend towards short term contractors leads to the littlest guy taking the hit on fair wages, job security and benefits to protect the bottom line of the gorillas in the room and the monkeys that fight each other all the way to the bottom to kiss gorilla butt..

      speaking from experience of being a crucial (yet by monkey madness necessity cheap) monkey employed sub-whore for several triple A titles, I have seen lots of monkey companies go down, with the same individuals being re-hired by different outfits for the same project. Just sayin.
      • Two words: Hollywood accounting

      • by xaxa (988988)

        Percentage of overall software sales should be mandated by law for employees and contractors. [...] It avoids but does not preclude the "union" issue.

        Why don't the developers form/join a union? That would seem the best way to get that law written.

        AFAIK there isn't a specific union for IT workers here (though one could be started). Prospect [prospect.org.uk] is the union for professional engineers. I work for the government, so some of my colleagues belong to PCS [pcs.org.uk] (Public and Commercial Services Union) and are going on strike tomorrow.

        • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

          Besides being the best way to get decent pay and working conditions, unions are also the best way to improve an economy, grow a healthy middle class and make society better generally.

          They are the only way to make the structural imperatives of a corporation beneficial for society instead of destructive.

          • Wow, Just get unions and instantly the economy, middle class and society improve! It's like magic. Do we also get unicorns?
      • That's fine (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Wednesday June 29, 2011 @06:37AM (#36608966)

        So long as you don't want up front pay/benefits. You can't reasonably expect a company to give it to you both ways. If you are willing to be a part of the financial risk of a project, meaning your pay, or lack thereof, depends on how well it does then sure you can have part of the profits. That is basically how it works for all small business owners. How much they get depends on how well they do. However that means you have to accept that you only get paid when it makes money and that if it bombs, you don't get anything.

        On the other hand if you want the company to front the risk, to put up all the cash for something, to pay you a regular salary and so on while you work, then you need to accept that they get to reap the rewards if there are some, because they'll also eat the failures. They need the reward from successful projects to cover the costs from unsuccessful ones (if you think ever game makes money, you are dreaming).

        You can't have it both ways where they are expected to pay you up front, to bear all financial burden, and then to give you the profits when something succeeds, yet not to dock you when something fails (which they cannot legally do).

        • by geekoid (135745)

          Yes, because no one in sales gets a large salary, a piece of the sales, and a large bonus.

          Please. You can, in fact, have it both ways.

      • Percentage of overall sales won't make the management team seek better working conditions for the workers, if anything, it will make them worse since management will have an incentive to shorten the development cycle and pump out more loads of crap. The more SKUs out there, the harder it becomes to manage, meaning more overhead and less profits. After a while of eating the profits, gaming developers will begin to close their doors since the reward is now actually LESS than the risk.

        If you want to change the

    • by hairyfeet (841228)

      Well would you think it was "normal" if a company regularly took one of its best and most productive teams and just shot a few of them, you know, just for shits and giggles? Time and time again, study after study, it has been shown that ridiculous hours destroy creativity and slow production because you simply can't be at your best when you are worn out. Then you have to figure in the loss of morale, the loss of experienced employees to burn out, etc.

      The quicker these ass clown PHBs in the games industry

      • by delinear (991444)
        The problem is most PHBs aren't qualified to know good code from bad. They don't realise that the extra hours are just churning out garbage, they just know "Ooh, we wrote an extra X thousand lines of code in the same time period as my predecessor". They'd probably have a better product in about half the time if they restricted work hours and made sure their employees were well rested.
        • by hairyfeet (841228)

          See my little rant here [slashdot.org] for my take and some examples i ran into of THAT problem.

          I would say a BIG, as in Hiroshima nuke style big problem we have in this country is "upward failure" where time and time again stupidity is rewarded by those dipshits that did said stupidity either moving up and out of a dept so they don't get the blame, or using their 'success story" to move to another company like a wafting fart. I've seen morons get a promotion for 'saving significant resources on the IT budget" when all h

  • This seems to be the standard at Rockstar games, wasnt this the same with Red Dead Redemption. Probably one of the reasons
    why Rockstar closed its vienna office, they could not get away with such abuse there, due to the strong labor laws.

    • Re:Guess (Score:4, Insightful)

      by MemoryDragon (544441) on Wednesday June 29, 2011 @02:37AM (#36608032)

      Just to sum it up, stories like these kept me away from the games industrie even when I was younger.
      Your life and health and family is not worth it to work on the next cool game. Sorry, but the game will be forgotten
      within half a year, a burnout a divorce or even worse damage wont be forgotten in a 10 years timeframe if ever.
      All I can say is stay out of hellhole companies wo seem to have a history of burning through
      their employees.

  • by cheeks5965 (1682996) on Wednesday June 29, 2011 @02:31AM (#36608020)
    the three hours I spent on duke nukem are lost forever.
  • by HalfFlat (121672) on Wednesday June 29, 2011 @02:44AM (#36608058)

    ... at least, this matches my experience at an Australian game development company. At least we didn't have to suffer this for seven years before shipping, though.

    Sure enough, after shipping, the company lost 70% of their coders and they were reduced to producing shallow clones of their original (good) game.

    The game industry is, basically, sick.

  • Super Chicken... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Gavin Scott (15916) on Wednesday June 29, 2011 @02:49AM (#36608068)

    You knew the job was dangerous when you took it Fred.

    These days is anyone surprised that working for a games company is something that's best done by the young and unattached? And asshole bosses exist everywhere. Learn from the experience and move on. From all accounts I've seen, you guys produced a pretty darn awesome game.

    G.

    • I've had to work with a few Assholes in my time, bosses and collegues. Some of the people in my last contract were particularly obnoxious. I recommend the following books;

      The No Asshole Rule A brilliant book that quite clearly sets out how to handle assholes, how to recognise when you are being an asshole and what to do about it

      The Bully at Work If you are being bullied at work, get this book now. I can't tell you how much it helped me survive mobbing and abuse from some particularly fucked up people. I t

  • by Petersko (564140) on Wednesday June 29, 2011 @03:01AM (#36608110)
    The first time somebody pulled something like that I would find them alone and tell them point blank that I'm not going to take that. Ever.

    The second time I would pull my prepared letter of resignation out of my desk, sign and date it, and hand it to him right in front of everybody.

    Yeah, yeah, yeah. Blah blah want to get in the industry blah blah need a job blah blah. If he was hired at a gaming company he's got the resume to get a job doing something different.
    Being treated reasonably is not something I'm willing to give up. You know that "Animal House" initiation scene? "Thank you sir, may I have another!" Well, if they keep doing that to you after pledge week it's time to quit the fraternity.
    • by geekoid (135745)

      If you're going to work 100 hours a week, get a 40 hour job, and spend the other 60 working on your own game company.

  • by billcopc (196330) <vrillco@yahoo.com> on Wednesday June 29, 2011 @03:04AM (#36608118) Homepage

    Every time I hear a sob story like this, I can't help but wonder why employees tolerate this kind of abuse. If the job is going to shit, LEAVE! If you have any saleable skills, you can take them elsewhere. I'm not saying they need to unionize, but almost... If game developers stood shoulder-to-shoulder and said no to hostile work environments, the industry would be forced to adapt. It sounds very much like these people are afraid to say no. You'll say "but what about the house" ? Fuck the house! What good is a house when you spend every waking moment at work, eating advil by the handful ? Fuck the house, and fuck the job. You have better things to do in life than pad some greedy sociopath's stock options.

    Conversely, if Rockstar needs 110 man-hours a week for every coder, they should hire 2 extra coders to meet the demand. If that breaks the budget, fuck the project, it's an unprofitable project. If it can't be profitable while adhering to reasonable work conditions and timelines, then it should not be undertaken in the first place. If a guy called me tomorrow and said he wanted a Facebook killer for $50, I'd cheerfully invite him to die in a fucking fire. No, scratch that, I'd go to his house and beat him to death with a Chia Pet for even proposing such a ridiculous venture. Game devs need to learn to do the same thing. Democracy only works if you have the brass balls to stick to your guns.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      What if you actually want to have that game on your resume, because it might help your career in the long term? How much would an employee tolerate for that?

      • Now that's a retarded gamble. Why would you possibly want "that game" on your resume before it's made? It could turn out to be an industry laughing stock, and even if you did a great job on your part, it would be a stain on your resume if you included it. If an employee "tolerates" those conditions for that, they deserve it.

        This is about standing on principles, not about betting against the house in misguided longshots at success.

        • Now that's a retarded gamble. Why would you possibly want "that game" on your resume before it's made? It could turn out to be an industry laughing stock, and even if you did a great job on your part, it would be a stain on your resume if you included it.

          Having something to show is much better than not having anything. And the pros who have a lot of CV material already probably also have the experience to recognize a bad working environment and get out quick.

          Also, finishing the current project before switching jobs demonstrates that you have (at least once had) capability of actually completing things. There are enough people in the world who lack that (and they usually blame it on "stuff outside their control").

      • by ledow (319597)

        Great, so you get a reputation for working on projects that later come up in the news for how much you were walked over because you didn't want to rock the boat. Any employer would be happy to see that on your CV.

        Additionally, I think "I left that HUGE project to pursue other ventures" would be interpreted correctly by anyone who's heard the horror stories about such places, and actually proves you have balls and care about your career whereas "Yeah, I worked on that horror-story project and got nothing to

    • by bonch (38532) * on Wednesday June 29, 2011 @03:25AM (#36608212)

      Every time I hear a sob story like this, I can't help but wonder why employees tolerate this kind of abuse.

      They're young, naive, and afraid of rocking the boat.

      • and those that arent, know the someone else whos young and naive will take their place. Or you want the credit. Or you want to make teh game, and are so emotionally invested in it taht you just... have to do it.

      • by Noughmad (1044096)

        Then why do they complain after the fact?

    • by owlstead (636356)

      And why *shouldn't* you unionize? It's not like a programmer is a top of the line job nowadays. It doesn't pay that badly, but I would not advise anybody to take on the job if they have the skills to be a lawyer, banker etc. I've been treated pretty badly by my current company (try working with a 30 year old airco if you are allergic), and I'm now joining the union because of it.

      I'm a developer, but I'm trying to move on while staying somewhat on the technical side of things.

      • by ThosLives (686517)

        And why *shouldn't* you unionize?

        I'd give up too many individual freedoms in the workplace. All my experience with unionized workplaces is that you cannot do anything outside a narrowly defined set of roles and responsibilities without drawing the ire of staff with more seniority.

        There's also the general tendency to reward seniority higher than merit; there should be some value in having more seasoned employees but merit should also be there; I've seen firsthand people be openly threatened because they wor

    • Well lets sum it up, very prominent gaming company, people hired fresh out of college who dont know better. The funny thing is that if you dont do crunchtime then people are usually more productive than by such crunchtime death marches (face it people can die over such work ethics there is even a japanese word for it)
      After 5-6 hours of coding the productivity goes down the gutters and after 8 hours you wont get any decent results anymore. Managers who dont know that either never worked as coders or are just

      • by gmack (197796)

        A company I worked for in the past had some crunch times but abandoned the idea after we lost more time to debugging than we gained with the extra work hours.

        The problem seems to be that many managers think of tech work as just like an assembly line and have no idea of the actual work involved.

    • by mcvos (645701) on Wednesday June 29, 2011 @04:46AM (#36608528)

      Conversely, if Rockstar needs 110 man-hours a week for every coder, they should hire 2 extra coders to meet the demand. If that breaks the budget, fuck the project, it's an unprofitable project. If it can't be profitable while adhering to reasonable work conditions and timelines, then it should not be undertaken in the first place.

      Shorter work weeks or hiring more coders to do the work will likely make the project more profitable, not less. I can't believe for a moment that prolonged 60-110 hour work weeks are really more productive than a 40 hour work week. Of course, the first week of crunch you get a bit more work out of your people, but it comes at a cost. Soon, productivity will drop despite the extra hours. Demanding more hours will just tire them even more. A healthy, well-rested work force is far more productive.

      One or two weeks of crunch before a real actual deadline can work, but after that, you'd better give them a week off to rest. If you can't afford to give them a week off, it's not worth it to demand that amount of overtime.

      Considering these stories, it doesn't surprise me at all that LA Noire took 7 years. I bet a competent development house could do it for half the cost in less than half the time.

    • Why not an axe?

    • If you look at the article you'll see that they didn't stand for it and did leave, but people rarely read the articles anyway and you're just unlucky that your point was answered in it.
      I've seen this sort of pointless death march approach to management in a few companies, not just software companies, that I can only assume have the management that the USA threw away. They keep on doing it and keep on having ridiculous levels of staff turnover until the whole thing implodes. Clients or customers notice and
  • It didn't work (Score:4, Insightful)

    by phantomfive (622387) on Wednesday June 29, 2011 @03:04AM (#36608124) Journal
    Apparently it didn't work. Wisdom says treat your employees badly, and they'll do shoddy work. What happened after several years of poor product management, treating employees like dirt, Rockstar had to seriously cleanup a lot of the code, which is why the game was delayed. Rough stuff.

    As a programmer that makes me feel happy. I like to hear that their is an advantage to treating employees well.
  • Making games has to be one of the most barbaric, ass-backwards forms of software development. The worst crunch times, the longest hours, the greediest publishers, and the most amateur media covering it all. Other entertainment mediums such filmmaking or writing have veterans who keep creating for decades, but the game industry burns out its stars and drives them away; e.g., Will Wright.

    • by ShakaUVM (157947)

      >>Making games has to be one of the most barbaric, ass-backwards forms of software development.

      Don't believe the hype. Well, believe it, I guess, but it's not always that way.

      I used to work in game development, and have (or had) friends or acquaintances at Obsidian, Midway, Bethesda, Valve, Sony, SOE, various Facebook game companies, and so forth.

      There's just as wide a range of experiences in the game industry as in other industries, though it probably does trend a bit toward younger developers and lo

      • The thing is that the studio was (is?) in Australia. There are laws that are meant to combat/discourage/stop this kind of employee abuse. I mean, really, the developers should not have had to put up with the alleged pressures and non-pay for overtime, etc, etc.

  • by Psychotria (953670) on Wednesday June 29, 2011 @03:15AM (#36608158)

    Based on just the stuff in the linked articles I do have to wonder why the employees didn't seek legal advice and pursue constructive dismissal [wikipedia.org] action. I fucking would have.

    • What this all stems from is too many programmer types want to get in to it "To make games." They are interested in being programmers, they want to be GAME programmers. Well, that creates a ready supply of labour and thus lets companies do more of what they want. Why should they care about you when they can just get someone else? So the developer types, particularly the younger ones, feel lucky to have a job working on games, doing their "dream" and so on.

      Not saying that is the only problem, but it is no sma

    • by MrNemesis (587188)

      Seconded. I took my first employer to the small claims court for constructive dismissal after he withheld a months pay after I decided to work to rule after his twattish behaviour caused me to nearly bust a gasket (dumping an "urgent" jobs on my doorstep at 8pm on a friday evening, giving disgruntled clients my personal phone number and home address, being persistently late with payment). Got the two grand pay and two grand in damages via a CCJ all with a few forms from the citizens advice bureau (no legal

  • by Anonymous Coward

    After being in a couple of startups on both ends of the org chart, I am constantly surprised by one simple thing - bosses don't appear to understand that the incentives of their employees are not the same as their own. Here we have McNamara talking about his employees only worked the same work week as he did, but why should they do even that? He presumably owns this game studio and stands to make a lot of money from a successful product. He is completely invested in this product, so its hardly surprising th

  • Unionize! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by delirium of disorder (701392) on Wednesday June 29, 2011 @04:12AM (#36608376) Homepage Journal

    If workers want to have a say in their conditions and want to retain the value of what they produce without bosses and investors taking most of it away in profits, than we need to organize a union. The time is long overdue for an IT industry union [iww.org].

  • by clickclickdrone (964164) on Wednesday June 29, 2011 @05:01AM (#36608576)
    I know a few people that work in the industry in the UK and their stories horrify me. Not so much the hours - they do work reasonable hours but that probably Euro law kicking in - more the stupid shenannigans the publishers pull. So many games have been coming along nicely then the publisher's marketing people start demanding wholesale changes, killling the game's playability.
    They also pull stunts like demanding a rewrite on an impossible deadline then use the failure to deliver it on time as a reason to cancel the contract.
    There also seems to be a trend to make dev teams redundant just before Christmas as the development houses finish the game for Christmas but can't keep ticking over waiting for the revenue so end up folding. He's lost his job 6 times as 5 were in November. Happy Christmas.
    All jobs have good and bad but the games industry seems particularly badly run on the suits side by people that just don't get the end product and just know SKUs.
  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Wednesday June 29, 2011 @05:08AM (#36608616) Homepage

    You learn very quickly how not to develop software: deluded, unrealistic, underfunded expectations from the get-go; lies, concealment, finger pointing and circling the wagons in every tiny fiefdom; turds eternally rolling downhill; perpetually moving goalposts; two-jobs-for-the-salary-of-one; demanding that each fresh noob immediately picks the job of the burned out vet that they're replacing; and beatings that will continue until morale improves.

    But hey, that one Saturday back in 2007, when we only worked 10 hours and then had pizza? Dude, that was awesome.

  • Honestly, reminds me of some lab i have seen up to now.

  • Brendan McNamara expects his employees to work as long as him. Was he paying them as much as he made out of this? Doubt it.

    Even if the International Game Developers Association is investigating can they do anything? Doubt it too. Gaming is like Fashion modeling and competition is fierce for jobs. He'll find another batch of programmers eager to take his abuse for a shot at doing what they love, or at least think they will love. Best solution for an A$$hole boss is to quit.

  • So they work like graduate students, just with more pay.
  • we have old ladies getting their depends removed by the TSA at the airport and it's just tolerated
  • You don't want to see either being made.

    At least that's the expression as I always heard it :-)

    (And to continue the thought - too much of either will kill those forced to consume them)

  • 60 to 110 hours a week for seven years? Yeah. I'd be gone after a month of that. It's hard to have too much sympathy for a guy who declines to make use of his option to simply quit.
  • by walterbyrd (182728) on Wednesday June 29, 2011 @10:11AM (#36610512)

    Gotta love working in IT. Work 110 hours, get paid for 40. Abandon your family, and social life, and suffer serious psychological issues. If you make it to the ripe old ago of 35, without having to train your H1B replacement, you will be thrown out in the street soon enough because you are considered too old. At which point you will be considered unhiralbe to many employers. Doesn't really matter, since the entire department is being offshored anyway.

  • by Syberz (1170343) on Wednesday June 29, 2011 @10:16AM (#36610576) Homepage

    Sounds to me like horrible management is the cause here. That Mcnamara guy sounds like a real pompous ass.

    Just because you're willing to sacrifice everything and work 80 hour weeks, it doesn't mean that I should be forced to.

    In Quebec, overtime is on a voluntary basis only, so you can politely tell your boss to f*ck off if he's forcing you to stay longer. If you're fired for "not being a team player" or "not performing as per expectations" because you refuse to do 60h+ work weeks, well you can then go to the Work Commission and sue your employer for wrongful termination and win back all of the unpaid overtime plus unpaid wages AND get your job back (I don't see why you would go back though). All you need to do is tabulate hours worked and the over time demands received. Doing this sets a precedent and usually involves an investigation of the employer as well.

    FYI, you don't even need a lawyer for this as it's the defendant that has to do the leg work and prove that you were indeed rightfully terminated.

  • by Animats (122034) on Wednesday June 29, 2011 @11:20AM (#36611394) Homepage

    The Animation Guild. [animationguild.org] They represent animators and digital effects artists at almost all the Hollywood-based studios. They have an organizer [fxdag.org] and are actively trying to sign up the remaining non-union studios. Union animators get overtime. 1.5x pay after 40 hours. Double time after 6 days.

    Hollywood accepts that there will be crunches during production, but by long tradition and union rules, management has to pay extra for them. That's why "film scheduling" is an accepted discipline in the film industry.

    The Animation Guild makes an interesting point - the union studios stay in business longer than the non-union ones. Because the workers can push back against management idiocy, it tends not to go too far.

  • Did anyone actually traverse the story back to the original article from IGN (http://uk.ps3.ign.com/articles/117/1178844p2.html [ign.com]) and read it?

    Albeit, a quote from McNamara, but if just this holds true, I don't pity anyone working for the company

    There was a bonus scheme for working evenings, and people got a month off for that," he said. "And people who worked weekends got paid for it. We brought in a weekend working scheme for that. But contractually, we don't have to do that. Part of the thing is that we pay over the odds, and it says in their contract that if they need to do extra time. I've done 20 years of not getting paid for doing that kind of stuff.

[Crash programs] fail because they are based on the theory that, with nine women pregnant, you can get a baby a month. -- Wernher von Braun

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