The Rainmakers

The Rainmakers
"EA is a Startup"

Russ Pitts | 6 Mar 2007 07:03
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TE: I think you're one of the few people I could talk to in the universe that would think of EA as a start-up. How do you feel now about the fact that they're still sort of running on start-up times, still having those 100 hour weeks and still doing constant crunch time?

JY: Well, I don't see why they do that. I think now it's more of a cultural thing than anything else. I mean, they've been doing it for so long - since the beginning - that they don't know how to do, probably anything else. It's kind of frustrating from my point of view, because I would like to think, especially now that I have the degree of control that I do in the environment I work in, that I'm really anti-crunch, and I'm adamant about making sure that we do our job in finding the projects and allocating enough resources and biting off as much as we can chew ... that I feel it's my responsibility to make sure we don't have to work like crazed animals for extended periods of time.

So I feel kind of bad about it, in the sense that there was no reason for them to do that. And of course, EA being the monstrous engine that it is right now, you would think that by now they would've figured out a way to not have to do that, but I don't know what to say. But you know what? I've worked in other companies where crunch was part of the culture. I mean, the employees liked doing it, which I thought was crazy, but what do you do with that?

TE: What do you think, do you think that's an industry impetus, or do you think it's a symptom of the kinds of people that gravitate to the industry?

JY: I think it's more of the latter, because gamers - as a generalized statement - people in the gaming space tend to be nocturnal kind of people that are very focused and high-energy kind of guys, so they're kind of used to the idea: "When I get started on something I'm going to stay with it for 12, 14, 16 hours or whatever it takes, and if that happens to be overnight, so be it because I'm nocturnal anyway, I don't care." It's just sort of the personality profile. You see a lot more of those kinds of people than you see the early morning, 8-5, you know, "I better go home and play with my kids" kind of people. Although, we have a lot of those kinds of people here, because you see a lot more of them now in the industry than ever. And I certainly, personally respect that kind of attitude.

I like the guys that can come in do their nine or eight hours or 10 hours get the work done and go home and leave the job at work. That's really almost impossible to do in our industry, because even if you leave your job at work, you still go home and play games. So it's pretty tough to not be working constantly, but nonetheless, as our industry matures we're getting more people that don't do that. That's a good thing from my point of view.

TE: How do you gel those two different types of personalities, the more mature developer who may have been in the industry for a while or for whatever reason doesn't crave crash time and the young energetic folks like you were just describing? How do you make those two work together?

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