I was just perusing Google Plus when I saw that Chris Burns had posted a piece over at Android Community on a disgruntled employee who is alleging bad work conditions against his former employer, Game Loft. According to the employee named Glenn Watson, the former Head Studio Programmer at Gamelofts New Zealand office he was working 100-120 hour work weeks.
Gameson.net is reporting that Watson said
“Some weeks I was working 100 to 120 hours a week. Starting at 9:30 AM, going home at 2:30 AM, and then coming back into the office at 8:30 AM to start work again was not unusual,” notes Glenn “There were other times when I would be called back into the office at 11:30 PM by the studio producer, only to head home again at 2:30 AM,” he explained. “It was after I worked four consecutive weeks of fourteen-hour days – including weekends – that I realized I needed to resign.”
More after the break
Watson goes on to tell a story about something they call Golding. This is the practice where local senior management at Gameloft’s New Zealand office were putting intense pressure on the employees there to make deadlines, and then finding out from the French headquarters that they were coming in way before deadline. Presumably there was some incentive based bonus for senior managers to get games in quicker.
“It was 11:30 at night,” says Glenn, “everyone had been there since 8:30 in the morning, and even our most reliable programmers were making mistakes. I went up to see the studio manager and the producer and said ‘Listen, these guys are making mistakes, they are tired, and they need to go home’. The producer replied that they needed everyone to be there, and the deadline had to be met. Later, I found out that one of the junior programmers had actually worked a 24-hour straight stint in the office.” (source: Gameson.net)
So this sounds like pretty bad working conditions right? But would it be the same in America’s competitive corporate culture? Are the managers at Gamelofts New Zealand offices just passionate and driven?
On a recent trip to San Francisco we stopped in at many of the top companies in our Android eco-systems headquarters. Of course Google makes it very easy for driven employees to work around the clock until the just can’t work anymore. Google provides free restaurants and snack kitchens along with health clubs, doctors offices, showers and pools. We also stopped by the building that is home to both Wired magazine and LookOut Mobile security. On every level in that building the common bathrooms had a locker room style area with showers.
Although personal time is very important to most people, driven people often make personal time, and stick to it while still working an enormous amount of hours. Readers of Thedroidguy and other tech and Android related website’s know that you can see writers of those sites post articles at 9am and at 2:30am.
Let’s also make one thing clear, there isn’t anything in the original source piece about not getting paid for the work, in fact Watson references over time a lot and at 80 hours of overtime a week, hourly employees are probably well compensated even by New Zealand standards. It’s not like anyone is suggesting that GameLoft is paying their developers minimum wage to work all these hours and not sharing in the fruits of their loins.
Gameloft has not responded to anyone’s request for a comment in this matter however I suspect if they would they would address the competitive nature of the tech business. Also, Watson carried a pretty hefty title at GameLoft I’d suspect he could have gone to another company that’s not so driven…. that is until now…