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Dan Houser: "We have some senior people who work very hard purely because they're passionate"

Rockstar co-founder provides additional context to earlier statement about "100-hour weeks" on Red Dead Redemption 2

Rockstar co-founder Dan Houser has provided further elaboration on Red Dead Redemption 2 developer workloads in the wake of an interview with Vulture in which he said, "We were working 100-hour weeks" on the game.

The original remark was widely reported this morning in light of growing concerns about industry crunch and past issues at Rockstar, including the Rockstar Spouse letter written around the first Red Dead Redemption's development.

In response to concerns, Houser provided a reply to Kotaku in which he endeavored to clarify that the 100-hour weeks were limited to the four-person senior writing team (including himself) and only took place over three weeks. He goes on to note that some employees can and do opt to "work very hard" at the company, but added, "No one, senior or junior, is ever forced to work hard."

Here is Houser's statement in full as shared with Kotaku:

"There seems to be some confusion arising from my interview with Harold Goldberg. The point I was trying to make in the article was related to how the narrative and dialogue in the game was crafted, which was mostly what we talked about, not about the different processes of the wider team. After working on the game for seven years, the senior writing team, which consists of four people, Mike Unsworth, Rupert Humphries, Lazlow and myself, had, as we always do, three weeks of intense work when we wrapped everything up. Three weeks, not years. We have all worked together for at least 12 years now, and feel we need this to get everything finished. After so many years of getting things organized and ready on this project, we needed this to check and finalize everything.

"More importantly, we obviously don't expect anyone else to work this way. Across the whole company, we have some senior people who work very hard purely because they're passionate about a project, or their particular work, and we believe that passion shows in the games we release. But that additional effort is a choice, and we don't ask or expect anyone to work anything like this. Lots of other senior people work in an entirely different way and are just as productive - I'm just not one of them! No one, senior or junior, is ever forced to work hard. I believe we go to great lengths to run a business that cares about its people, and to make the company a great place for them to work."

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Latest comments (1)

Erin Anderson Sr. Technical Developer Relations Manager, EA28 days ago
This clarification does not make Mr. Houser sound like anything less than a tyrant and bully.

"Across the whole company, we have some senior people who work very hard purely because they're passionate about a project..."

and

"No one, senior or junior, is ever forced to work hard."

Equating unhealthy working hours and conditions with "working hard" is disingenuous, at the very least. Also, if you, as a senior member of the development team, are seen and heard performing this ritual and espousing statements like this, you are implicitly teaching the rest of the development team that this is what is to be expected and to be rewarded at your studio. If someone else who is putting in a reasonable number of hours and performing their work competently is not seen as "working hard", that is a BAD. THING.

This clarification is not a redemption of his earlier words; we are seeing a very clear image of a faulty leadership team at Rockstar. I earnestly hope that their devs are being treated much more fairly and equitably than what is implied here. Just remember when you hear this man talk, every time he says "works/working hard", he means working inexcusable and unsustainable hours, because that is apparently the only metric he can come up with for measuring the level of work that a person is performing.
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