Rockstar Games Employees Defend The Studio After Toxic Work Environment Accusations
During the last few days, Rockstar Games has been in the middle of a controversy due to co-founder Dan Houser’s statements about the team working around 100 hours per week in wake of incoming Red Dead Redemption 2 release.
After Houser has clarified his statement with an official note from the studio, staffers from both San Diego and North teams have discussed the matter publicly, defending the company they work for.
“R* has granted permission for us to speak frankly about this issue on social media. I want to stress that this is is my uncurated personal opinion, I am not being compensated for this post in any way and am making it voluntarily,” said earlier today Rockstar Games San Diego’s tools programmer Vivianne Langdon on Twitter.
“I have never worked more than maybe 50 hours a week (and that's a rare occurrence), but I generally work about 2-6 hours of paid overtime per week,” is the beginning of her story.
“I'm "non-exempt" so my overtime pay starts at 1.5x salary and scales to 2x after 8 hours of OT in a week or 12 hours in a single day, in accordance with California law. Also, I have only been asked to work on weekends once or twice in my entire time at R* on the Tools team.
The few instances when I work late overtime hours are generally because I'm in the "zone" and don't want to stop until I finish some tricky problem. It is not the result of anyone forcing me to stay late or giving me impossible deadlines, but rather my own drive as a programmer.”
Zoe Sams, the tools programmer at Rockstar Games North, has shared a similar story about her experience.
“I haven’t worked a 100 hour work week in my life. I’m thanked for any overtime I am asked to do, and it feels like in those circumstances it truly was an unfortunate situation.
I adore my team, this crazy family, and the work we put out. I like to think they know I do too, with the work I put in for them. I don’t think we’re perfect? But I don’t think anywhere is, and we’re all working to change that internally.”
Rockstar Games North’s Martin puts it very simple: “I've spent nearly 5 years at Rockstar North. The number of 100 hour weeks done? Zero. The number of times I've been given any pressure for that? Zero. I've also been promoted during that time. I love working here, otherwise, I'd go work somewhere else.”
So, it’s clear that everyone might have different experiences at a workplace, and that to someone these women and men might not be telling the truth (or the complete truth) about what’s happening at Rockstar Games.
As for me, as a video games fan, I am just glad to hear some positive stories coming out from one of the most talented studios out there, and hope to hear more since work conditions are too important to allow anyone – Rockstar included - to put them in doubt with excessive crunch times and offensive behaviors.