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Electronics Arts' cellphone librarian

October 1, 2008 | 12:16 pm

Jackie Lin Meet Jackie Lin, the cellphone librarian at Electronic Arts in Playa Vista.

His full-time job: Keep track of the 15,000 handsets the video-game publisher uses to develop and test mobile games. He works out of an office that employees call "the cage," a room lined floor to ceiling with color-coded plastic bins overflowing with cellphones. There's also an entire cabinet chock-full of chargers for every device.

Each handset has two tags -- a barcode used to scan the device when it's checked out and a sticker identifying the cellphone model and its operating system.

From 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. each weekday, dozens of EA employees line up outside Lin's office to check out the gadgets. The library circulates from 300 to 400 a day. Many get lost. Some are returned broken. It's Lin's responsibility to make sure the company has enough working units on hand to develop and test the games EA sells on more than 200 types of phones, across multiple carriers.

Lin is among more than 1,000 workers employed by EA's mobile-games division. Most are engaged in tweaking and testing games for the plethora of handset types in the marketplace. For example, a single title such as Need for Speed Undercover can have dozens of variations.

The 34-year-old is among the first to see snazzy new cellphones, often weeks before the devices hit the market. That's because manufacturers supply developers such as EA with early models to build and test software.

"It's a cool job," said Lin, who has the helpful, easygoing air of a librarian but whose official title is handset processing coordinator. Among the perks of Lin's job: free calls and perfect cellphone reception in his office.

-- Alex Pham

Photos: Jackie Lin in "the cage." Credit: Alex Pham / Los Angeles Times