The Human Cost of Red Dead Redemption 2

Megalith

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Following up on earlier allegations, Eurogamer has spoken to additional Rockstar staff who have experienced “extreme workload” at the developer’s studios, which include New York and Lincoln. Many of their stories double down on earlier reports, pointing to crunch time that has taken a toll on their health, relationships, and career ambitions. While not all staff have been subjected to significantly extended hours, increasing anecdotes suggest it is a real problem.

"I know people who suffered breakdowns," one Rockstar North staff member told me. "We'd be told quietly those people had to go and they'd been taken ill and be off for three months. Some people, we'd hear later they wouldn't be coming back. There was a time you were always worried - what if you pushed it too far? I know someone on GTA5 who took a stroke aged 30-something. They went back to work after a while. It was brutal. That was the lifestyle."
 

pendragon1

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ah the glamorous life of a game dev. were they tied to their desks? 'cause pretty sure nobody forced them to work there, they wanted that job. and that is not the only industry that has crunch times. wonder how old these people are...
"or night shifts, UK employment laws state a person can only work eight out of every 24 hours, but Rockstar employees sign agreements to waive this condition."
"Here's the thing about working in the NY office: the people that used to work late wore it like a badge of honor. Seriously, they were into it and got a kick out of putting more hours in than their colleagues. It never felt like we had to be there though. I think people just assumed that the extra hours would be rewarded down the line."

edit: their not theyre.
 
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seanreisk

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Even better than being a programmer or developer is being a game tester in Quality Assurance. You work the same hours, you have the same stress, but your job is twice as boring and you work for half the pay.

I had two friends who worked Quality Assurance at EA. My friend Keoss made a horrible mistake, he had just graduated with a computer science degree and he took the QA job while he was waiting for a programming position to open up. Note to kids who want to break into the game industry: Don't take a QA job, or if you do, never put it on your resume. It's like being an Untouchable in India, once you are tainted with the stench of QA, you can never work in another part of the gaming industry. The other friend, Dave, went into QA because Keoss said there was a job opening and that they'd hire anyone.

After about two months Dave quit and went to work driving pizza for Dominos. Guess what, after tips and mileage, working 30 hours a week for Dominos paid more money than working 50+ hours a week for EA.

Note: This was back in the 90's. And to make things even worse, at the time a lot of the people in QA weren't even EA employees - they were contractors. They were interviewed, hired and trained by EA, but they worked for a contracting company.
 
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pendragon1

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Even better than being a programmer or developer is being a game tester in Quality Assurance. You work the same hours, you have the same stress, but your job is twice as boring and you work for half the pay.
think that's the 80+ hour guys in the second quote, badge of honor not forced labor.
 
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forced OT is not specific to them and even my last employer did it.. didnt really affect me that much because i was in management... but it still sucked for the guys on my teams big time.

so having dealt with it before, i do feel qualified to say: wtf did you expect was going to happen when you force people to work long hours that they dont want to work?
and also:
working 10hr days is not the same as working 14hrs with no escape and being in the office for so long you wind up sleeping under your desk sometimes because you just cant even drive home. its all relative.
 

SixFootDuo

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I guess I don't get it. These kids get into this business knowing this is going to happen. In fact, management spent months if not years warning them there will be periods of crunch time where you're gonna have to work until 2 or 3am at times or whatever the case may be.

There are labor laws in place and I am sure none were broke. In fact, show me where these companies are routinely sued and fined with it's officers arrested for these conditions. That would be the real story.

These guys are paid very well and, it's a pretty cool job to have from what I understand.

Like I said, it was no surprise to any of them that this job would require long periods of work at some point.

My feeling is that the authors of this story were aiming to basically bad mouth a gaming company. That was their primary intent. The employees, secondary.

Also, when people bitch, they give you the worse possible "fish tale" memories. It's only human nature so def factor that in when you hear these stories.

I won't call BS but I will say ... I could care less. Get a job that coddles you sleep schedule.
 

viper1152012

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My dad was a software engineer and I hardly saw him. My buddy is a game designer and I hardly see him either. But it sounds like the team on Red dead 2 are pushed harder
 

Oldmodder

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My dad was a Communist / union boss / city council member and did whatever he could beside that to help other people ( working guys ) and that also cost him his marriage in the end, he was at his desk in the union at 6 in the morning though it opened at 8 and he dident leave it before 6 in the evening, and then often to go do something else.
And the weekends too, and this pretty much all the time from the mid 60ties hen i was born and until he was forced on pension due to his age.
And i feel extremely proud of having a father,,,, okay stepfather like that, cuz people like that are far between today.
 
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Companies that work their drones this hard are fooling themselves. There's a fucking planet sized body of science that proves these practices are not only useless, but completely counterproductive.

I get that the shareholders love to hear this kind of shit and it makes the bosses bonuses feel better but the science says you're doing stupid shit because it's tradition.

How about all of these many, many companies try proving their devotion to their employees instead of the other way around?

I do it, I know the names of the families of everyone that works for me I've met all their kids. Hell I was at the hospital during the births of most of their kids or at least I was there the same day. It feels really good to do right by your people.
 

Krenum

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Companies that work their drones this hard are fooling themselves. There's a fucking planet sized body of science that proves these practices are not only useless, but completely counterproductive.

Indeed. Which is why many companies in Japan value breaks and time off. It keeps their employees happy and their products show it. A happy worker is a busy worker. Its not laziness, we're only human. You work people to death, its going to show in some shape or form in the final product.
 

Meeho

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Why should we care? It has been like this since forever in the gaming industry and it's a free choice to become a game dev.
 
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Meeho

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It is so strange that people here are defending these practices that don’t even work aside from burning people out and ruining people’s lives.
The game came out and is doing good. Just like the one before it. I guess it worked just fine.
 

Merc1138

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It is so strange that people here are defending these practices that don’t even work aside from burning people out and ruining people’s lives.
Or maybe, because no one has a gun to their head nor are they tied to the desk, this shit isn't exactly an unheard of issue in the industry. Go find another job that doesn't suck. If a company can't get/keep employees around because their practices suck, they end up changing their practices or finding themselves out of business due to being unable to produce anything. Seriously, if NO ONE were willing to put up with that crap, they couldn't get away with it.
 

M76

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Note: This was back in the 90's. And to make things even worse, at the time a lot of the people in QA weren't even EA employees - they were contractors. They were interviewed, hired and trained by EA, but they worked for a contracting company.
Thta must have been the trend. I interviewed for a game dev in the early 2000s and they also said you can't be an employee. There were two choices. Either sign up for the contracting company which meant they took about 1/3 of the money (on top of taxes and insurance), which basically meant minimum wage at the time. Or you apply for a contractor license and become a subcontractor yourself, paying your own taxes and insurance.
 

M76

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Or maybe, because no one has a gun to their head nor are they tied to the desk, this shit isn't exactly an unheard of issue in the industry. Go find another job that doesn't suck. If a company can't get/keep employees around because their practices suck, they end up changing their practices or finding themselves out of business due to being unable to produce anything. Seriously, if NO ONE were willing to put up with that crap, they couldn't get away with it.
Ah, you still believe in fairy tales? There is no such thing as "NO ONE" there is always someone worse off than you, willing to put up with the conditions to take your place. If you have an important role, there will be some uproar, and some setbacks but ultimately everyone is replaceable.
 

Arcygenical

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Yeah, and most of the chefs I work with stuggle with drug and alcohol addictions - at work too - doing these sorts of hours... Often in 120'f and higher work environments.

There are many brutal jobs out there.
 

Draax

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Or maybe, because no one has a gun to their head nor are they tied to the desk, this shit isn't exactly an unheard of issue in the industry. Go find another job that doesn't suck. If a company can't get/keep employees around because their practices suck, they end up changing their practices or finding themselves out of business due to being unable to produce anything. Seriously, if NO ONE were willing to put up with that crap, they couldn't get away with it.
That's not how it works … that's not how any of this works. I'm sure there are people out there willing to be indentured servants. Really what you are championing is a race to the bottom. Remind me who, if anyone, wins in that scenario?
 

SamuraiInBlack

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If you are going to make the workers work insane hours, you should be right there with them. They don't get to go home? Neither do you. Don't like it? Then be a real fucking manager and make it so the only reason you're still there is to make sure you're the last one to leave for the day.

My company started doing this. Our OT dropped to almost zero existence, becoming 100% voluntary based on circumstantial needs (in my case it's when a pickup is running late and needs to be loaded). Imagine that.
 

filip

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Ahhh now I see why this game has so many tedious tasks. Them developers wanted everyone to taste the workload.

You know the people working there have the wrong idea about work. You have to give it 50% effort and maybe 55% during crunch time, which translates to 100% and 110%. There is no need to devote themselves to the company like that, if they have that ambition they should work toward opening a business for themselves.
 
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Merc1138

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Ah, you still believe in fairy tales? There is no such thing as "NO ONE" there is always someone worse off than you, willing to put up with the conditions to take your place. If you have an important role, there will be some uproar, and some setbacks but ultimately everyone is replaceable.
We're not talking about people digging ditches on the roadside. If all of the skilled individuals refuse to put up with the BS, then the employer doesn't have employees to get the work done.
That's not how it works … that's not how any of this works. I'm sure there are people out there willing to be indentured servants. Really what you are championing is a race to the bottom. Remind me who, if anyone, wins in that scenario?
How the hell is pointing out that people shouldn't be putting up with oppressive work environments, championing a race to the bottom or have anything to do with indentured servitude?

Let me ask you this. Assuming your current employer isn't shit, and you have an ok benefits package and salary. Why the hell would you ever consider changing to an employer that treats you like crap?

Hell, let's say you don't have a career yet, have an education, you're looking to get hired somewhere, and lets give 3 examples of employers across a spectrum:
A: Offers competitive wages, has reasonable work hours, and a benefits package that people tend to like.
B: Has mediocre wages, reasonable work hours, barely offers anything for benefits
C: Mediocre wages, everyone tells you that they demand 70+ hour work weeks, doesn't have anything competitive as far as benefits.

Why in the world would you ever consider working at option C? B clearly isn't that great but could be worse, at least it's worth considering if you can't find a position somewhere that would fit into the A category I described above.
 
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Indeed. Which is why many companies in Japan value breaks and time off. It keeps their employees happy and their products show it. A happy worker is a busy worker. Its not laziness, we're only human. You work people to death, its going to show in some shape or form in the final product.

The thing that gets me is the inefficiency. We know that this is bad for your product, bad for your employees, and bad for your bottom line. Even salary workers produce less company income working 100 hours than they do working 60 hours, that's with no increased financial cost to the company. If this shit got results it wouldn't bother me so much, but we know through years of study and testing that it doesn't. We know that it has the opposite of the "desired" effect.

I think the real desired effect is some sick devotion test. That's just deranged.

The worst part is that in video game production (and many other places in tech) it's the norm, there are so few jobs at smaller game companies and those seem to be the only places that don't have these bizarre environments.
 

Lifelite

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So flawed that it's managed to provide the national defense for Europe and Japan for the last 50 years.

Yup, America sucks!
tenor.gif


Didn't say it was shit, saying it has its faults. Derp.
 

Joust

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I have never asked more of my people than I do of myself. Ever. That said, when it's crunch time, everyone knows the score and we produce. Sometimes someone has a problem and they come tell me we -cannot- get something done by a certain date. I feel secure in knowing they are professional and either the schedule for the task must be modified, more human resources allocated, or (most likely) some other outside factor is at play keeping us from moving forward on schedule. That's alright, so long as they communicate with me, I can make adjustments and shelter them from fallout (from up on high) that would otherwise occur.

I can do this because I have an excellent, professional team. My view is that if they are performing at their specialties, they should not be concerned with organizational friction.

I've seen folks that would hang their people out to dry if it looks better - it's selfish and inefficient. Unhealthy, in my opinion.
 

SamuraiInBlack

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I've seen folks that would hang their people out to dry if it looks better - it's selfish and inefficient. Unhealthy, in my opinion.

And also easily seen for what it is with enough facts and data. It would be why in the last four years of where I work, I have had an entirely new set of managers every year. Just in my department alone I've had eight different people being my boss.
 

jfreund

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I have never asked more of my people than I do of myself. Ever. That said, when it's crunch time, everyone knows the score and we produce. Sometimes someone has a problem and they come tell me we -cannot- get something done by a certain date. I feel secure in knowing they are professional and either the schedule for the task must be modified, more human resources allocated, or (most likely) some other outside factor is at play keeping us from moving forward on schedule. That's alright, so long as they communicate with me, I can make adjustments and shelter them from fallout (from up on high) that would otherwise occur.

I can do this because I have an excellent, professional team. My view is that if they are performing at their specialties, they should not be concerned with organizational friction.

That's called leadership, and it's becoming more and more rare. Instead we have an overabundance of management.
 

tetris42

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Companies that work their drones this hard are fooling themselves. There's a fucking planet sized body of science that proves these practices are not only useless, but completely counterproductive.

I get that the shareholders love to hear this kind of shit and it makes the bosses bonuses feel better but the science says you're doing stupid shit because it's tradition.

How about all of these many, many companies try proving their devotion to their employees instead of the other way around?

I do it, I know the names of the families of everyone that works for me I've met all their kids. Hell I was at the hospital during the births of most of their kids or at least I was there the same day. It feels really good to do right by your people.
I think you're wrong. I think it's like this:

1. I can pay my employees to work a productive 40 hours a week.

2. I can pay my employees to work a per-hour-less-productive-but-overall-more-productive 100 hours a week with minimal or no overtime since they're salaried and we have lopsided contracts.

It's of course not 2.5x times as productive, but it could be 1.8x or 2x productive as 40 hours. If what you're describing was so effective, the entire industry would be doing it, but that almost never happens. I think you're only looking at maximum efficiency per hour, not total efficiency.
 

Comixbooks

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Stroke is from high blood pressure trying to process digital imagery lack of sleep or stress combo that or diet.
 
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TonyZ

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My brother has always said I should have become a game programmer, me I'm perfectly happy business programming path I took. No way in hell would I work hours like that for someone.
 

capt_cope

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I think you're wrong. I think it's like this:

1. I can pay my employees to work a productive 40 hours a week.

2. I can pay my employees to work a per-hour-less-productive-but-overall-more-productive 100 hours a week with minimal or no overtime since they're salaried and we have lopsided contracts.

It's of course not 2.5x times as productive, but it could be 1.8x or 2x productive as 40 hours. If what you're describing was so effective, the entire industry would be doing it, but that almost never happens. I think you're only looking at maximum efficiency per hour, not total efficiency.
Maybe for the first week, but once sleep deprivation sets in by week 2 or 3 you're going to get less work done overall than a 40 hour week.
 

Dayaks

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The thing that gets me is the inefficiency. We know that this is bad for your product, bad for your employees, and bad for your bottom line. Even salary workers produce less company income working 100 hours than they do working 60 hours, that's with no increased financial cost to the company. If this shit got results it wouldn't bother me so much, but we know through years of study and testing that it doesn't. We know that it has the opposite of the "desired" effect.

I think the real desired effect is some sick devotion test. That's just deranged.

The worst part is that in video game production (and many other places in tech) it's the norm, there are so few jobs at smaller game companies and those seem to be the only places that don't have these bizarre environments.

I’ve had no problem telling my managers it needs to be a fair deal and I can get another job in a heart beat. It’s always worked out for me. I am not into the 60-80 hr nonsense anymore lol. I like30-40 better...
 

Evil Scooter

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^^^ LOL>.. I worked in SEMICON industry R&D back in the tech. boom of the 90's. Would spend weeks in a clean room without seeing the sun.. in early.. out late. Was my choice and I raked in some serious $$$. In most cases the long as hell hours are not about being "more productive".... It was about meeting deadlines to remain competitive getting viable technology to market before our competitors did. We were pushing to get that last 5% of the work completed... not make another 500 widgets.
 
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Articles like these makes me glad I never got into game development. I read EA sucks for those in the industry too, unless you're an exec raking in the profits though.
 
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