The Rainmakers

The Rainmakers
"EA is a Startup"

Russ Pitts | 6 Mar 2007 07:03
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JY: You know, the key to all of this good stuff is making deals that stick. So the idea is, if you have people working together and they say Hey, I'm going to get this done by XYZ time, this is what a deal that sticks is all about. So he's going to make a commitment to the other employees to the effect that the piece of the puzzle that [he's] working on, [he's] going to deliver to you in this time period, and he actually gets it done. So, if you can do that, then it doesn't really matter how the folks are working in terms of their work style, because everybody is making commitments. And as long as the commitments are being upheld, then it can be relatively transparent to everybody how they got there.

So, if I've got one guy that does nothing for two days and stays in the office for 48 hours, and he gets it all done, but he makes it deliverable on the day that everybody said that he needed it, then he's just as good as the guy that comes in and works eight hours a day and gets it all done and has a normal life. It makes no difference to me. Whatever floats your boat.

TE: So you think it's the tolerance of the different personalities then?

JY: Yeah. In fact, [the] one thing you've got to be in the game industry is really tolerant of different personalities. We get our unusually large spread of strange and interesting personalities in our business. I have no problem with eccentric people or people that are not necessarily polished in their personal relationship skills or whatever, but if they get the job done and you see the passion in their work, [who cares?] ... One of the things I talk about with everybody is that nobody works in the game business unless they want it; everybody that's here has a passion for being involved in games. So I want to see that passion exhibited in the output of their work, because I think customers see it. When the people that build the game really love their product, really care about it deeply, then you see it in the end result.

TE: Let's go back to EA a little bit and tell me, if you can, one of your most memorable experiences working with that company.

JY: Wow, there's a lot of them. I guess probably one of the most interesting [lessons] I've learned is ... you can't hide a hit. If you're working on a product that's going to be a top-selling product, you know it pretty early on, and one of the ways I learned that was working on Seven Cities of Gold.

After we got about four months into the project, it was pretty widely known in EA that I was getting a build every other Friday from the developer, Dan Button, over in Little Rock, Arkansas, and so one day I remember doing a build, and I looked up and outside my cubicle there was literally a line of 12 people. And I looked up and asked, "Why are you people here?" And they said, "Well, you've got a new build for Seven Cities of Gold, and we all want one." So that's when I started to learn, wait a second, if I'm still building this thing and I've got people lined up outside my door, then I know I must be onto something special here.

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