Recently, Rockstar’s Dan Houser caused quite a bit of controversy when he suggested that members of the Red Dead Redemption 2 development team were working 100 hour weeks to finish the game. While he later stated that he was only talking about certain senior staff members, some doubted that was the case. Now, though, other members of the Rockstar team have taken to social media to “mostly” echo those claims.
“In over 5 years, never have I been asked or pressured to work anywhere near 100 hours,” says Rockstar North engine programmer, Timea Tabori. “I have occasionally worked maybe 50 hours a week at most and nobody demanded or even expected that.”
Many of the other quotes from Rockstar employees state something similar. Rockstar San Diego tools programmer, Vivianne Langdon says that she has never worked for more than 50 hours in a week and that she was compensated with overtime pay for any of the weeks that she did work additional hours (generally 2-6 hours of paid overtime a week). Others from the company say that 50-60 hours seems to be the max amount of time they worked in any given week and that overtime was not forced or unpaid.
Considering that most of these announcements came after Rockstar reportedly granted employees permission to address these claims via their social media accounts, you might think that these are all closely monitored responses that have been approved by Rockstar. However, the tone and content of a few of these messages suggest that isn’t the case.
“It’s easy to fall into that trap, if you leave on time, and see other people still working, or read a comment about a 100 hour week, to feel guilty,” says Rockstar North employee, Rolo le Ghoulo. “But if I’m not alone in that, and in fact that anxiety is fueling how much overtime we work? I expect that’s an industry-wide problem, and not a criticism of Rockstar.”
Tom Fautley, another Rockstar employee, says that he’s seen friends get closer to that 100 hour work week figure “than is healthy,” and that he is typically “asked, encouraged and expected to work overtime (both nights and weekends) when coming up to a big deadline.” There’s also the matter of some ex-Rockstar employees who say that there was at least one point when Rockstar strongly encouraged employees to work weekends and extra hours.
While it certainly sounds like the 100 hour work week figure that has been making the rounds was indeed something of an exaggeration, the debate concerning the culture of crunch time in the video game industry will almost certainly live on.
Matthew Byrd is a staff writer for Den of Geek. He spends most of his days trying to pitch deep-dive analytical pieces about Killer Klowns From Outer Space to an increasingly perturbed series of editors. You can read more of his work here or find him on Twitter at @SilverTuna014.
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