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Rockstar Games employees defend work culture following controversy

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Employees of Rockstar Games have taken to social media to discuss the working conditions at the renowned studio. The testimonies of current developers at the studio come just days after studio co-founder and head writer Dan Houser told Vulture that some members of the development team worked 100-hour weeks on several occasions this year. Houser soon clarified his comment to Kotaku by saying only the senior writing team worked for 100 hours per week over a period of three weeks and that no one at Rockstar is forced to work long hours.

The developers who have chosen to speak out have relayed largely positive experiences while working on Red Dead Redemption 2. Timea Tabori, an engine programmer at Rockstar North, wrote: “In over 5 years, never have I been asked or pressured to work anywhere near 100 hours.”

In over 5 years, never have I been asked or pressured to work anywhere near 100 hours. I have occasionally worked maybe 50 hours a week at most and nobody demanded or even expected that.

— Timea Tabori (@TimeaTabori) October 18, 2018

18-year Rockstar Games veteran Rich Rosado said he has never been asked “to work anything near a 100-hour work week.” Rosado added that he has worked overtime, but only when he wanted to.

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Multiple Rockstar employees noted the progress Rockstar has made over the years with regards to long work weeks (otherwise known as “crunch”). Rockstar North scripter Owain Davies wrote: “I’ve worked at Rockstar North for almost 5 years now, and in that time I’ve been asked to crunch leading up to many deadlines. During my first few years here, it was a lot worse. There were several 70+ hour weeks. The worst it ever got I think was just shy of 80 hours.” Davies added that crunch for his work typically falls in the 50-55 hours range. Davies noted that his experience hasn’t been “as bad as other colleagues.”

Numerous Rockstar employees, like Vivianne Langdon, mentioned that when they work overtime they are compensated for it.

Red Dead Redemption 2 Launch Trailer

Rockstar is a multinational corporation with many different studios and departments, so the experiences of the employees that have spoken out doesn’t necessarily reflect the experiences of everyone at Rockstar.

However, it does sound as if Rockstar’s work culture has improved over the years. In 2010, anonymous allegations surfaced out of Rockstar San Diego about lengthy hours during the development of Red Dead Redemption.

Former Rockstar employee Job Stauffer compared his experience of working on Grand Theft Auto IV to “working with a gun to your head 7 days a week.” In a widely shared tweet, game designer Jenn Sandercock said when she worked at Team Bondi, Rockstar pressured her employer to curb her “Cake Days” tradition. Sandercock said that once per week she brought a cake to work for her colleagues to eat during a 30-minute break.

Red Dead Redemption 2 launches on October 26 on PS4 and Xbox One and is available to preload now.

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Steven Petite
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