If you’re looking forward to Red Dead Redemption 2, we can hardly blame you as it seems like half of the civilized world is looking forward to it at this point. But when you hear the people in charge of Rockstar boasting that the game has led to 100-hour workweeks for several employees in 2018, that may… dampen your enthusiasm somewhat. (For those of you who don’t feel like doing the math, that translates to almost 15-hour workdays every day… or 20-hour workdays and recovering sleep on the weekends.) So… yay, video games?
It seems almost inconceivable that someone would brag about that, but perhaps it was just an outgrowth of the developers talking up some rather impressive stats around the game, like how the game sports over 300,000 animations and over 500,000 lines of dialogue voiced in the game. There’s also planning to make sure that the game’s online mode is every bit as robust as Grand Theft Auto Online, which… doesn’t really fix any of the above issues, but it sure does sound like fun.
There seems to be some confusion arising from my interview with Harold Goldberg. 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. 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.
Of course, as Kotaku also points out, Rockstar’s past crunch problems have been long-documented. US Gamer, for example, notes that following the 2010 revelations, the pro-crunch culture at the company hasn’t appeared to change much, an effect emphasized by multiple former Rockstar employees who point out that company culture abuses “passion” without having to use force. For example:
I worked 80 hour weeks at rockstar until I had a breakdown. If I hadn’t, my contract would have been terminated. There are plenty ways to force a person, fuck you very much. https://t.co/o8HqcpwErh
— Roisi, except spooky (@roisiproven) October 15, 2018