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Current Rockstar Employees Speak Out About Working Conditions

Since Rockstar Games’ founder Dan Houser’s comment that the studio was working 100-hour weeks to finish “Red Dead Redemption 2” resulted in an outcry on gaming industry working conditions earlier this week, multiple employees at the company are speaking out about the issue via social media.

In an interview released Sunday, Houser stated that 100-hour work weeks occurred several times in the past year, but later sent a clarification to Variety that this comment only applied to four people, including Houser, the senior writers for “Red Dead Redemption 2.” Houser also stated that “we obviously don’t expect anyone else to work this way.”

While ex-Rockstar employees commented earlier this regarding work conditions around the release of “Red Dead Redemption” and other hit titles like “Grand Theft Auto IV” and “Grand Theft Auto V,” we now are hearing from current Rockstar employees. It appears that Rockstar Games may have relaxed its social media policy, as one current engine programmer at Rockstar North, Timea Tabori, noted that employees “have been given permission to talk openly about our experiences” in a tweet.

“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,” Tabori wrote in a followup tweet.

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Wesley Mackinder, a current Rockstar North employee, commented that he felt relieved that his company isn’t putting him through the strenuous working conditions that some have described.

“It’s been surreal to see people share their crunch stories with the conclusion being, ‘Rockstar needs to change,'” Mackinder tweeted. “When I’ve just been reading them thinking, ‘I’m so glad I work at Rockstar and haven’t done anything they have’.”

Vivianne Langdon, a tools programmer with Rockstar San Diego, prefaced a series of tweets with the note that she has worked for Rockstar for three and a half years and that “[Rockstar] 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. I’m only going to speak to my personal experience.”

On her work experience with Rockstar, Langdon tweeted that she has never worked more than 50 hours a week, and that even working 50 hours in a week is  “a rare occurrence.” Langdon said she usually works roughly two to six hours of paid overtime per week.

A game designer with Rockstar North, Guillermo Diaz, tweeted that while longer work hours are a possibility, they are not required, and that there are many people who “have not worked a single extra hour” and have even received promotions. Notably, though, Diaz himself reports working more than 75 hours in some weeks.

“I have worked so many hours to make [“Red Dead Redemption 2″] possible during many months (75+ hours some weeks),” Diaz tweeted. “And it has been always as part of the desire of my content to be perfect. We have been encouraged to push harder to meet the deadlines, but I don’t feel forced by [Rockstar Games] to do it.”

Former employees, like Job Stauffer, paint a different picture of life as a Rockstar developer, at least in years past.

“It’s been nearly a decade since I parted from Rockstar, but I can assure you that during the GTA IV era, it was like working with a gun to your head 7 days a week,” Stauffer tweeted. ” ‘Be here Saturday & Sunday too, just in case Sam or Dan come in, they want to see everyone working as hard as them.’ “

Do you have stories you’d like to share about working at Rockstar or other studios under crunch or other adverse work conditions? Email Variety Gaming at GamingTips@Variety.com

 

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