As of last night, Rockstar Games has lifted its social media ban for employees. Previously, the company had discouraged employees from discussing work experiences online. Following the story which broke earlier this week in which Dan Houser mentioned ‘100-hour’ work weeks, which caused quite the stir online and in-industry alike, Rockstar Games’ Human Resources head, Rob Spampinato, sent an email to several of the company’s studios. In that email, Spampinato acknowledged the frustration some felt about not being able to talk about their experiences in light of recent comments circulated, now stating that they would be allowed to speak up, without the need to “sugarcoat anything.” Following this email, several current staff have started discussing their work experiences and talking of the overtime they personally have done.
The majority of those who have gone public have either never worked overtime or have, but “haven’t worked a 100-hour week in my life,” as in the case of Zoe Sams, a tools programmer with Rockstar North. With that said, all have acknowledged that “crunch” – a common issue within the video games industry – is a problem, stating that things have, however, improved over time.
This comes in stark contrast to the controversy which surrounded the ‘triple A’ developer in 2010, after an open letter was sent to the company by the spouses of several employees. In the letter, the spouses complained about the long hours and poor working conditions which plagued Rockstar San Diego during the development of the first Red Dead Redemption. Following these reports, the International Game Developers Association condemned the practice of “crunch” at Rockstar’s studio, calling the practice “deceptive, exploitative, and ultimately harmful.” While this week has paralleled this previous incident to an extent, it appears that the developer has improved its working conditions since then, with overtime being more so on a voluntary basis.