Alleged Unfair Work Conditions At Rockstar San Diego

Illustration for article titled Alleged Unfair Work Conditions At Rockstar San Diego

An anonymous blogger filing under the heading "Rockstar Spouse" has penned a letter of complaint about working conditions at Red Dead Redemption development studio Rockstar San Diego.

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The lengthy posting appeared yesterday on a user blog on the game development site Gamasutra and was signed by "Determined Devoted Wives of Rockstar San Diego employees." The post claims that since March 2009, San Diego employees have suffered "degradation" that "extends to their quality of life and their family members" in the form of mandatory 12-hour days six days a week, have had pay cut and vacation limited. The post alleges that this extended crunch-time stress has affected the health of some employees. The "wives" blame management and a Rockstar "thirst for power," urging changes in the working conditions at the San Diego studio: "If these working conditions stay unchanged in the upcoming weeks, preparation will be made to take legal action against Rockstar San Diego."

Rockstar Games did not respond to requests from Kotaku for comment about the letter or any actions the company might take because of it.

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While the charges of an anonymous blogger — and the sentiments echoed below the post by anonymous commenters allegedly familiar with the workings of the studio — must be met with skepticism, the letter was clearly designed to evoke memories of 2004's "EA Spouse." Six years ago, Erin Hoffman, writing anonymously as "EA Spouse" complained of unfair working conditions at Electronic Arts. Her complaints about the long hours and stressful lives of EA developers gained industry-wide attention and was the topic of several stories that appeared on Kotaku. But by 2006 EA appeared to change its ways and Hoffman was praising the happiness of people who worked for the company.

The charges levied in the "Rockstar Spouse" post are unproven. We'll continue following this story as the veracity of the complaints — or lack thereof — comes more clearly to light.

Wives of Rockstar San Diego Employees Have Collected Themselves [Gamasutra "Rockstar Spouse" user blog]

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DISCUSSION

WittyUserName

I'm amazed at how many people on this thread are proclaiming:

A - I work in the industry and this is normal!

B - They should just quit!

C - Both

Could anyone posting something like the above explain something to me?

Don't tell me that it's the way is it.

Tell me why it should be the way it is.

Why should a company (any company) be able to work their employees to the point of burnout? Or force mandatory, unpaid overtime?

Why should that be legal? Is it even moral?

And don't use the phrase "crunch time" with me.

If the studio management couldn't adequately predict a reachable release date for the game, shifting the burden of hitting an arbitrary deadline to their employees is abusive.

Another answer I'm not accepting is that anyone who'd rather not be worked to death is "lazy".

That would be calling in to account the professionalism of those employees and you'd better have more than "I'm harder-better-faster-stronger" to back that up with.