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Former EA devs reflect on work culture 14 years after EA Spouse

Former EA devs reflect on work culture 14 years after EA Spouse

February 26, 2018 | By Emma Kidwell

“When I started, the work/life balance was shitty. I was in my twenties. I didn't give a damn. I would work insane hours and it was fine.”​

-  Former Electronic Art's developer Bob Nystrom on the work/life imbalance of crunch culture

In a piece published by Glixel earlier today, former Electronic Arts developers reflect on their employment 14 years after the Live Journal post EA Spouse shed light on the company's labor practices.

Crunch was often seen as a necessity to produce good work, and a few developers admitted to self-imposing harmful working habits in order to keep up with the culture. 

Although the blog was published anonymously back in 2004, the identity of EA Spouse was eventually found to be game developer Erin Hoffman-John.

She expressed frustration over the work culture her significant other endured during his employment at EA, citing long hours and internalized crunch culture as the culprit for bad labor practices. 

This sentiment is echoed by former employees of EA like Jeff Peters, who was supervising producer Superman Returns at the time EA Spouse was published. 

"One of the running jokes that was talked about through the halls frequently was, ‘hey, are you guys working Sunday yet? Oh cool, we can still add another feature," says Peters.

Bob Nystrom worked at EA Tiburon, the Florida studio tasked with working on Madden and Nascar titles in 2003. Whether crunch works or not is debatable among former staff, but Nystrom expressed his disdain for it. 

"After a few weeks of 60 hours weeks, you can crank out a bunch of stuff and it's awesome," He explains. "Eventually it's like, I'm only getting 40 hours a week [of work] done. The work is done now, but I'm burning 20 hours of my life. That was kinda stupid." 

The publication of EA Spouse eventually seeped into EA culture, but not before courts had to work through employee complaints. Be sure to read about the impact EA Spouse had over at Glixel.

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