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IGDA Responds to Allegations of Poor Working Conditions at Rockstar San Diego

The International Game Developers Association (IGDA), a nonprofit membership organization that supports videogame makers, recently weighed-in regarding claims leveled by "wives of Rockstar employees" at developer Rockstar. At the heart of the matter, accusations that excessive overtime requirements during the development crunch for the upcoming open-world old-west adventure, Red Dead Redemption, have led to the deterioration of working conditions, employee morale, and the quality of life of their family members.

The IGDA response states, "with the stresses imposed by the declining economy, game studios, like other independent businesses, are under increased pressure and therefore are more susceptible to production concerns." They also assert that although many studios are good about ensuring the quality of life for their employees, "unhealthy practices are still far too common in our industry."

The results of the IGDA's 2009 "Quality of Life Survey," in which 3,300 game developers participated, confirmed that, in general, "...conditions in most workplaces are improving and, with diligence and an emphasis on increasing process efficiency, can continue to do so." That said, over half the developers surveyed felt that they also needed, "...more time for themselves and their families."

The IGDA's statement doesn't support or debunk any specific claims of poor working conditions at Rockstar. It serves more to reassert the IGDA's position as game developer advocates for fair company practices and a reasonable quality of life for employees. However, the developer advocacy group concluded by issuing "an open invitation to Rockstar developers, studio heads, and corporate officers offering consultation to bridge overtime gaps on the basis of their common interest in producing the best game product possible."

No word yet on whether Rockstar San Diego will accept the IGDA's invitation.

From The Chatty
  • reply
    January 15, 2010 7:52 PM

    What I noticed at companies is that overtime doesn't seem to help. The quality of the work goes down after 8-10 hours, thats if it isn't down the whole time due to people knowing they will be there for 10+ hours anyway.

    Putting people in for 8 hours a day with the occasional overtime seems significantly more productive than having months of overtime like most videogames have (with their constant milestones from publishers the pressure is high at all times not just at realease)

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      January 15, 2010 8:00 PM

      Well 10 hours isn't much overtime. A standard day is 9 hours (8 + 1 hour lunch). What really burns people out is 12+ hour days for an extended period of time. One of my former employers had us working 12+ days for 6-7 days a week for almost a year. After the 3 month mark, I would say the moral/productivity went down quite a bit.

      Now, this doesn't compare at all to the working conditions I had in the Navy. We did 12+ days, 7 days a week for 6+ months and the moral was still good.

      It really depends on the management and how the people use their time off. In the Navy, we had short stops in foreign ports that allowed us to blow off the steam, where here at home some people might not do that type of activity :)

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        January 15, 2010 8:31 PM

        Yeah, it's amazing how well you can cope without days off for months at sea, but if they didn't let us tear up Thailand for a week in the middle of that we'd have gone crazy.

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      January 15, 2010 8:01 PM

      Generally speaking to much overtime leads to mistakes, the more mistakes their are the more bugs you have to fix later. In short your trapping yourself in an ever increasing spiral of overtime until such time someone pulls the plug and the resultant game goes gold.

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      January 15, 2010 10:02 PM

      Most of the time your management are a bunch are talentless morons who constantly ask for idiotic features then trash them a few weeks later, thats the main source of these time overruns, from personal experience.

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        January 16, 2010 8:10 AM

        It seems like most of these companies are still using monolithic waterfall approaches and not trying new methodologies that might help them significantly. I imagine it's even harder for companies like Rockstar that have been successful since management loves the idea of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" and will cling to that until the end.

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        January 16, 2010 7:18 PM

        ^^^ THIS

        God I can't count the number of times this has happened. It's so annoying because the whole team tells management that it's a retarded idea and a waste of time, but in the end are powerless and have to work ridiculous overtime so that the game gets done with anything near acceptable quality.

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      January 16, 2010 12:37 AM

      I work just down the street in from where google maps says Rockstar games is located in Carlsbad. Although I'm not in any way a game developer, let me put this in perspective for the rest of you. What is the point of working in San Diego 8 minutes from the beach if one can't go surfing before work and hit the trails on the mountain bike on the way home in La Costa? It's been almost 70 F most of the past two weeks with good surf (for San Diego) during the past week. Priorities people. It's pretty damn hard to go back to work when the weather is this nice. I'm only half kidding.

      But seriously, you gotta do what you gotta do, However, unless you really love your job, chained to your cube is no way to live your life, son. I worked in a shitty, dysfunctional laboratory at Scripps in 05 and I swore I would never put up with that crap again. Life is too short. Unless you are inept, there is always a better working environment out there IF you are willing to put in the time to find it.

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      January 16, 2010 11:19 AM

      you only want overtime if it is good overtime, where people are working the extra hours because they enjoy what they are doing and time passes quickly..

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