Monday, November 19, 2012

Rockstar? More like Rockstop treating your workers like shit

Rockstar, the company responsible for big hits such as the Grand Theft Auto series, Max Payne 3, and Red Dead Redemption has been very popular among gamers and very unpopular with mothers. The stimulating content often leans toward violence and other controversial topics that excites many and offends more. This has been a dispute over the actual content of the games, but Huntemann's article brings to light some harsh realities about the actual working conditions within Rockstar.
            As discussed in Huntemann's article, the video game industry is often thought of as a dream job, filled with laid-back bosses and entertainment within the workplace. Huntemann describes how this is not necessarily the case with Rockstar, as workers are treated poorly, receive raises rarely, and are expected to work long hours in overtime without pay. (a period referred to as "crunch time")These stressful conditions permeate into the lives of the workers' families, sparking a movement among the spouses of workers to list their complaints with the working conditions. This "cool factor" about the gaming industry is shattered by this movement, which asks people to throw away their rose-colored glasses.
            Personally, I've enjoyed Rockstar's games immensely, but, after having read about this "crunch time" situation, I can see potential evidence within the games' content that could be indicative of over-stressing. Red Dead Redemption, a sandbox-style western that echoes the game play of the Grand Theft Auto series is almost as famous for its glitches as it is for its wonderful game play. There are Youtube videos galore of hilarious instances where humans take on the scripting characteristics of animals, or vice versa. A shopkeeper will appear in the air, flapping its wings and cawing. A dog will start speaking Spanish to you, and help you shoot at enemies. You will be walking through the forest and suddenly you see a bear riding a horse. These glitches appear often and are the cause of much hilarity, but they could be indicative of a couple of things: either sloppiness due to the stressful conditions, or the game designers' way of blowing off steam.
            Havenz and Lotz mentions a business model in which workers are given more flexibility for the majority of the work on a project, but are required to enter this "crunch time" period for more than a couple of weeks, where the hours get longer, and workers are not able to spend as much time with their families. Huntemann's article brings to light how time away from family is not the only drawback from Rockstar's "crunch time." The article also avoids discussion of this "flexible" period, making it sound as though it does not even exist for Rockstar's workers.

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