An Academic's Field Guide
to Electronic Arts
Observations based on a residency in the spring semester of 2004
Professor of Computer Science, HCI, and Design
Co-Director, Entertainment Technology Center
Carnegie Mellon University
The Studios at Electronic Arts (EA) have future staffing needs for more than 1,000 new
hires each year, and EA would like to fill 75% of these positions with university
graduates. EA currently fills only 10% of new positions from universities, traditionally
preferring to hire people with industry experience. Many universities have expressed a
desire to train people for employment at EA; in that spirit, I spent the spring semester of
2004 in residence at Electronic Arts educating myself about their needs. This document
contains my observations about EA, tailored for an academic audience. I conclude with
curricular recommendations for a two-year Masters-level curriculum containing students
from different undergraduate backgrounds. I discuss what has worked at Carnegie
Mellon’s Entertainment Technology Center and what might work in a more traditional
Facts academics should know about EA:
• EA plans to fill over 1,000 positions/year in the near future.
• EA has traditionally hired 10% of new hires from universities and wants to increase
that number to 75%.
• Making games at EA is a team sport: between 20 and 200 people work on each game.
• EA is a huge company, bigger than Apple and Pixar combined. EA has a $15B
market capitalization and $3B/year in revenues.
• EA is a ruthless meritocracy with a brutally honest culture, especially for critique and
• One of EA's major strengths is in management of people and process.
• The largest sin at EA is not delivering your game on time.
• EA has a very young, energetic work force.
• People at EA work long hours, in large part because of their great passion for making