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Rockstar Games Co-Founder Responds to 100-Hour Work-Week Uproar

The 100-hour work week that Rockstar Games co-founder Dan Houser mentioned in a recent interview — and which sparked uproar among the broader game development industry — was in reference to the schedule of four people, including Houser, the co-founder said in a statement sent to Variety.

He said the company would never expect anyone else to work that way.

“We were working 100-hour weeks,” Rockstar’s Dan Houser said, referring to multiple occurrences this year, in an interview with Vulture. The wide-ranging interview also noted that the game will include “300,000 animations, 500,000 lines of dialogue, and many more lines of code.” The section of the story references both the immense amount of polishing, rewrites and reedits involved in “Red Dead Redemption 2” and also the impact “all of their labor” has on the final game.

“The point I was trying to make in the article was related to how the narrative and dialogue in the game was crafted, which was mostly what we talked about, not about the different processes of the wider team,” Houser wrote in an email statement sent in response to Variety’s request for comment. “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. Three weeks, not years. We have all worked together for at least 12 years now, and feel we need this to get everything finished. After so many years of getting things organized and ready on this project, we needed this to check and finalize everything.

“More importantly, we obviously don’t expect anyone else to work this way. 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. Lots of other senior people work in an entirely different way and are just as productive – I’m just not one of them! No one, senior or junior, is ever forced to work hard. I believe we go to great lengths to run a business that cares about its people, and to make the company a great place for them to work.”

The response to the Vulture story Monday morning from those in the game industry ranged from outrage that a studio as powerful and profitable as Rockstar is overworking its developers, to those using the comment to note that the issue of “crunch” is a major problem in the multi-billion-dollar game industry.

At least one former Rockstar employee noted that working on a previous game at the studio was “hell.”

This isn’t the first time Rockstar has come under fire for its working conditions.

In 2010, an anonymous blogger using the name “Rockstar Spouse” wrote about the working conditions at Rockstar San Diego. That letter noted mandatory 12-hour days six days a week, limited vacation time and extended crunch-time.

Rockstar later responded on its official website, implying that the allegations were being made by a few unhappy former employees. Rockstar had, about a year earlier, settled a lawsuit brought against the office in 2006 for unpaid overtime.

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