About five and half years ago, I wrote about the spouse of an Electronic Arts employee who was upset about the working conditions at her husband’s job. At the time, her blog post got a lot of media attention. I’m not sure if conditions changed for her husband, but one of the outcomes was Gamewatch, a discussion forum where people could discuss the working conditions inside gaming companies.
I was poking around that forum and clicked through to another blog post from January, 2010 by the wife of a Rockstar Games developer that articulates very similar complaints. The article is written in a peculiarly baroque style, but here’s an excerpt:
Little is there to motivate continuation as they also have lost a free vacation week between Christmas and New Year. Without time to recuperate and no efforts made to alleviate the stress of such conditions would procure on an employee after a period time, serious health concerns. Yet, now the health concern becomes another financial concern as the stripping of medical benefits surfaces to realization. It becomes rather worse rather than better as employees gain experience and become “senior”. Instead of appreciation, numerous non-exempt designers and artists have had their overtime pay cut as a result for being “too senior”.
Apparently not much has changed in the intervening six years.
Here’s what’s weird: why do we keep hearing from the spouses of game programmers, and not the programmers themselves? The obvious answer is that the developers won’t speak out for fear of losing their jobs. Yet both the blogging spouses remain anonymous. The developers could write articles anonymously with a similar result, couldn’t they?
Perhaps these are just clever programmers posing as their wives, figuring that they’d be able to bring more attention to the issue in this end-around fashion?
And why is this phenomenon specific to game developers? I’ve see no open letters from the husbands of prenatal care nurses, or the spouses of public defenders?
To me, their entire argument is specious. If you don’t like where you work as a game developer, get a new job. You’re highly educated, in demand and have skills that are transferable to other parts of the technology or animation industry. If you really can’t find another job, then tough it out in this one for another year, save some money and start retraining in another field.
Of course, if your spouse doesn’t like where you work, that may be a more vexing problem.