Programming hours

Stuff reports:

The Labour Department has closed its investigation into a complaint by Australian computer programmer Glenn Watson who claimed to have been pressured to work up to 120 hours a week at the Auckland studio of games-maker Gameloft.

Spokeswoman Ailsa Mannell “no substantial evidence” of a breach of health and safety laws had been found and no action would be taken against the French multinational.

Watson’s description of working conditions at the Auckland studio, where he was head programmer, was widely reported in computer games publications around the world after he blew the whistle on his employer in July.

He said he resigned after a four-week stint in which he worked 14 hours-a-day, seven days a week. Watson accused Gameloft of creating artificial deadlines to encourage a frantic environment among the 70 Auckland staff and said a junior programmer had worked for 24 hours in a single, straight shift.

Ha, I can beat that. In 2000/1 when rolling out a new database system, I actually worked a straight 60 hour shift, broken up only by showers. It is amazing what you can manage when there is a non changeable deadline approaching.

The reason the deadline was not changeable is I was booked to fly/drive around the country doing installation and training starting on Tuesday, so I worked Saturday morning to Monday evening without sleep to complete everything.

What was funny was that when I completed the final testing and documentation just prior to my flight to Auckland on the Monday, I landed at Auckland early evening and had to drive to Warkworth. But I got a call from a friend inviting me to a party. I actually declined initially, but then he put on the phone the attractive blonde (knowing my inability to say no to them) who pressured me into attending, so despite no sleep for 60 hours I then attended a party (drinking non-alcoholic) for a couple of hours before resuming the drive to Warkworth.

It’s quite interesting when you go long periods without sleep, the cycles you go through. Every 12 hours or so you have a really tough period for 2 – 3 hours when staying awake is damn hard, but if you push past that, then you feel fine for another 9 – 10 hours or so.

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