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Spouses of Rockstar devs complain over workload

Spouses of Rockstar devs complain over workload

The spouses of some Rockstar San Diego developers have complained about working conditions.

The spouses of some developers at Rockstar's San Diego studio, developers of the Midnight Club, Table Tennis and Red Dead games, have written an open letter to the management complaining about the workload and conditions the team are forced to bear. The letter claims that developers are nearly always working 12 hour days, 6 days a week, with no downtime or rest period provided between projects or deadlines.

The extreme workload, which never seems to end, is causing depression and poor quality of life for many of the workers, alleges the letter. The letter is currently hosted over at Gamasutra and the allegations are reiterated and backed up in many of the comments that follow the story.

The letter levels blame clearly at mid and upper management, who have abused trust of their employees by hiding deadlines and, in some cases, misleading developers as to the status of promised bonuses and royalties.

"There are understandably times when crunching in work is needed and extended working time is expected," says the anonymous author. "However; as with all systems known to man, there must always be an effort for balance. Ergo, where there are times of acceleration, there are other times of deceleration in order to recuperate. This is not being practiced though, and instead of valued employees, a sentiment grows that they have lost not only the sense of being valued but turned into machines as they are slowly robbed of their humanity."

Comments following the story reaffirm the problems at the studio, claiming that 14-16 hour days occur often and that taking a weekend off is something that must be requested weeks in advance. Pay disputes are another issue, with staff claiming that salaries have not been adjusted to meet inflation despite superlative performance reviews.

Rockstar has not yet responded to the letter.

The entire campaign mirrors the similar EA_Spouse blog which, back in 2006, was used to point out similar issues at Electronic Arts' studios. The EA_Spouse campaign was so successful that it led to a successful class-action lawsuit against the publisher that saw EA paying out $14.9 million USD to the plaintiffs in unpaid overtime.

Let us know your thoughts in the forums.

26 Comments

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Star*Dagger 11th January 2010, 12:47 Quote
QQ, maybe the Mad Doc is ruining their lives like he destroyed Star Trek Legacy.
SMIFFYDUDE 11th January 2010, 13:07 Quote
I'm no lefty socialist, but isnt this what unions are for.
Abhorsen 11th January 2010, 13:08 Quote
Did the women who wrote that swallow a thesaurus prior to writing?
CardJoe 11th January 2010, 13:16 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Abhorsen
Did the women who wrote that swallow a thesaurus prior to writing?

No, she's just married to HP Lovecraft. True story.
Darkedge 11th January 2010, 13:29 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by SMIFFYDUDE
I'm no lefty socialist, but isnt this what unions are for.

Err this is in the US = no unions, despite Unions over here have no power either.
Too many companies in the games industry are still treating workers like ****, and before someone goes well they are being paid for it, really the wages are NOT that good, trust me I DO work in the industry - you don't do it for the money.
Kúsař 11th January 2010, 13:30 Quote
Working 12 hours a day, 6 days in week, that sounds like slavery to me.
MacWalka 11th January 2010, 13:31 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by SMIFFYDUDE
I'm no lefty socialist, but isnt this what unions are for.

Developers would be termed a "professional" career, generally don't get unions for this sort of thing. Unions are more for service industries, public sector and unskilled labour.

Employment laws in America are a lot less stringent than in the EU. Its easier to fire or make people redundant in America compared to here.
Flibblebot 11th January 2010, 14:01 Quote
Also, in the UK and Europe we have the Working Time Directive, which limits the hours that employees can work per week (unless they opt out).
leveller 11th January 2010, 14:07 Quote
Thing is, the 'victims' in this failed to tell their spouses that they are actually all down the pub.
LeMaltor 11th January 2010, 14:55 Quote
6 days a week? Some of us work 7 :p
daniel_owen_uk 11th January 2010, 15:49 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Flibblebot
Also, in the UK and Europe we have the Working Time Directive, which limits the hours that employees can work per week (unless they opt out).

Which would make no difference in this circumstance as it's within those ;)

At least 11 hours break between shifts, and at least 24 hours rest once per week (or 48 in 14 days).

I was reading them the other day.
eddtox 11th January 2010, 15:52 Quote
Meh, big corporations treating their employees like slaves. Story as old as the world. Hope Rockstar is made to pay out.
bob 11th January 2010, 16:09 Quote
Any wonder why some people go postal?
Flibblebot 11th January 2010, 16:20 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by daniel_owen_uk
Which would make no difference in this circumstance as it's within those ;)

At least 11 hours break between shifts, and at least 24 hours rest once per week (or 48 in 14 days).

I was reading them the other day.
You obviously missed the bit that limits the maximum length of a working week to 48 hours in 7 days... :p
daniel_owen_uk 11th January 2010, 16:26 Quote
LOL, shh don't tell my employees :D

You are of course correct.... git!
sear 11th January 2010, 16:33 Quote
Not rare at all. I want to get into the games industry, and I have no delusions that it's a shitty job for a lot of people, with the bad hidden behind a wall of public relations. If you get lucky, you wind up with a comfortable, stable and enjoyable position. If you don't, you're flying all over the country every six months for peanuts, hoping that your name will show up in the credits of a game as more than just "QA Tester" so you might finally get a decent job somewhere. That's not to say there aren't advantages. If you're a creative type then making games can be extremely fun and rewarding, and the actual workplace is quite casual, with few dress codes and the like. How much corporate bullshit there is really comes down to the company you're working for.
Horizon 11th January 2010, 17:38 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Darkedge
Quote:
Originally Posted by SMIFFYDUDE
I'm no lefty socialist, but isnt this what unions are for.

Err this is in the US = no unions, despite Unions over here have no power either.
Too many companies in the games industry are still treating workers like ****, and before someone goes well they are being paid for it, really the wages are NOT that good, trust me I DO work in the industry - you don't do it for the money.

GM begs to differ, and even the unions and a union, no lie.
Grinch123456 11th January 2010, 21:48 Quote
So now we know why GTA IV was such a heaping pile of fecal matter. Especially for the PC.
Teq 11th January 2010, 23:08 Quote
This is pretty much the norm in the industry, there are many grads willing to take up the slack if you don't want to, sadly I can't see this changing much (the pay is next to useless as well)
bahgger 11th January 2010, 23:21 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kúsař
Working 12 hours a day, 6 days in week, that sounds like slavery to me.

Last I heard, slavery was 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I must've lost the memo
LordPyrinc 12th January 2010, 01:36 Quote
If you overwork your people like this then you are going to get a piece of crap for a product. Tired and worn out people make mistakes and take shortcuts.

The economy sucks right now so its not an easy matter of just quitting and finding another job either.
chrisb2e9 12th January 2010, 04:42 Quote
I cant think of any place that I ever worked where you got too many hours. Most places limited your time at work so that they dont have to pay overtime.
leveller 12th January 2010, 08:00 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisb2e9
I cant think of any place that I ever worked where you got too many hours. Most places limited your time at work so that they dont have to pay overtime.

Traditionally, games dev has been full of like-minded games lovers and working late into the night (for love, not money) was part of the job. Now it's grown up, the industry is no longer full of those types and more 9 to 5ers.
frontline 12th January 2010, 13:25 Quote
The actual hours worked at any one time don't seem to be the issue, they accept that there are periods where 14-16 hours might be necessary at a crucial period in the development schedule. It just looks likes there is no reward for busting a gut, other than more of the same.

The answer is to release more multiplayer only games on PC only (dedicated servers of course), reduce the development time/costs, everyone is a winner! (seems to work for Valve at least).
HandMadeAndroid 14th January 2010, 08:42 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kúsař
Working 12 hours a day, 6 days in week, that sounds like slavery to me.

welcome to the world of the real
metarinka 20th January 2010, 05:54 Quote
i don't play that game. I put in my 40 hours a week (usually creeps up to 44) but after that I'm out.

I think this might be an issue as it's an industry in its infancy and no one seems to want to actually accurately estimate the man hours needed for completion (or doesn't want to pay is more like it)

I work in the engineering field and every once in a crazy blue moon we'll have a crunch period. But it won't last for weeks. I have a life outside of work and I want to keep it that way.

perhaps there's an oversupply of qualified candidates so they can walk all over them? as a welding engineer I'm rare enough that if I walk out, I will find another job and it will take them months to find and train a replacement. I have no qualms leaving if they expected me to work that much.
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