- Rockstar Games co-founder Dan Houser said his employees worked “100-hour weeks” to finish its highly anticipated game “Red Dead Redemption 2.”
- He was criticised for creating harsh working conditions, which critics say are widespread in the gaming industry.
- Houser clarified that only a few employees worked that much, and only for a few weeks.
- “Additional effort is a choice,” he said.
Rockstar Games co-founder Dan Houser is under fire for saying the company’s latest game, “Red Dead Redemption 2,” cost its employees 100-hour workweeks to finish.
“We were working 100-hour weeks,” Houser told New York magazine.
That works out to 20 hours a day if the employees are working five days of the week, or 14 hours if they’re working seven days of the week. The unhealthy and counterproductive effects of that kind of work are well documented.
“Red Dead Redemption 2” took seven years to make and is among the most highly anticipated games of the year. It’s from the same studio that makes the “Grand Theft Auto” series and is being acclaimed for its attention to detail in rendering the old West as a violent video game playground.
Houser told Kotaku in a statement that only a select number of people worked extraordinary hours to make the game, and only in the last few weeks of production.
“After working on the game for seven years, the senior writing team, which consists of four people, Mike Unsworth, Rupert Humphries, Lazlow and myself, had, as we always do, three weeks of intense work when we wrapped everything up,” he said. “Three weeks, not years. We have all worked together for at least 12 years now, and feel we need this to get everything finished.”
Houser also said he doesn’t expect all of his employees to put in the same number of hours all the time.
“We obviously don’t expect anyone else to work this way, he said. “Across the whole company, we have some senior people who work very hard purely because they’re passionate about a project, or their particular work, and we believe that passion shows in the games we release. But that additional effort is a choice, and we don’t ask or expect anyone to work anything like this.”
To critics, though, Houser’s comments were exemplary of a workaholic company culture endemic in the gaming industry, which many people consider toxic.
don’t know why anyone would work in the video game industry where you get to work 100 hour weeks then be let go once the game is finished.
— 9 V O L T (@9_volt_) October 15, 2018
don't get hung up on defining when and how and where 100-hour work weeks are acceptable or not.
get hung up on how valuable someone's health and happiness and stability is, and what that should be worth to their employer.
— Tanya X. Short (@tanyaxshort) October 15, 2018
unpopular opinion time: if you *are* the kind of person who will voluntarily work 100+ hour weeks, you are causing harm to your colleagues and peers by normalising it and making it acceptable. you're hurting the rest of us. go home.
— ☘ jess ???? (@floofyscorp) October 15, 2018
Working conditions in the industry have improved, but when the co-founder of a studio working on one of the biggest releases of the year can openly brag about their "100 hour work weeks" and have it lapped up as a marketing pitch, it's clear how much further we have to go.
— jared rea (@jaredr) October 15, 2018
Hearing Rockstar Games brag about the 100-hour work-weeks they put their employees through reminds me of the restaurant manager gig I had once, and the area director who angrily questioned my "commitment" to the job after I suggested that an 84-hour work week might be a bit much.
— Scott Wampler™ (@ScottWamplerBMD) October 15, 2018
Imagine bragging about pushing your workers to 100h+ weeks while also claiming to be proud of how sensible your work practices are ????.
Especially on a sequel to an original game that brought the families of workers to plead with management for leniency. https://t.co/WBpv0MR2qt
— DHH (@dhh) October 15, 2018
— HappyToast ★ (@IamHappyToast) October 15, 2018
This isn’t the first time Rockstar Games has been criticised for having a harsh work environment. When the first “Red Dead Redemption” was under development in 2010, the wives of game developers formed a collective and protested working conditions at the company’s San Diego office, saying employees worked mandatory 12-hour work days, including Saturdays – all while having their benefits reduced anyway.
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