Rockstar San Diego Wives Decry Working Conditions

In an open letter reminiscent of the now infamous 2004 blog postings by EA Spouse, a group of Rockstar San Diego employee wives have banded together to lament working conditions at the West Coast videogame developer.

Gamasutra has posted the letter in its entirety, which was signed by the “Determined Devoted Wives of Rockstar San Diego employees.” The group alleges that Rockstar San Diego employees have been in a perpetual state of “crunch” since March of 2009, employees have been diagnosed with symptoms of depression and that mandatory work hours have extended to nearly 12 hours a day, six days a week.

The letter also claims that comp and vacation time have been recouped by the company and that, since doctor’s offices are typically closed on Sunday, those working six days a week must utilize a sick day on a Saturday in order to visit their doctor. Those that do so receive “an attitude presented to them that they pose a hindrance.”

Additionally, the spouses claim that salary raises issued over the past four years have not kept up with inflation and that:

While managing to endure through the trying times, they still were hit with more blows. Again balance is denied, as working conditions worsened with no appreciation. Working harder, longer, faster, yet there was never a guarantee of a bonus nor if there was any earned, when they will be received! Moreover, bonuses could significantly be reduced based on ANYTHING management comes up with, while the employee would have no way to know about it.

The spouses write that if conditions “stay unchanged in the upcoming weeks, preparation will be made to take legal action against Rockstar San Diego.”

A user comment on Gamasutra posted by someone who claims to be a Rockstar San Diego employee stated:

RSG is not a bad place, and for many years, we hadn’t crunched a lot. The last 10 months though have been terrible and were avoidable. Same for all previous projects that went through the same extended crunch, and unless something changes, for all future projects.

Rockstar San Diego is currently working on Red Dead Redemption, the successor to 2004’s Red Dead Revolver.

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  1. cpu64 says:

     Damn it. I’m here sending application after application trying to get work in game design, fully expecting to be abused by my employer while working on something a really love, and no one calls back. I wouldn’t even need to go home since i have no family or significant other. I could live in the office!

    I worked at EA/Tiburon and it was a modern day sweat shop. I wanted to stay, but I wasn’t very good at testing Superman, and they fired me because I tried to tell them Superman was going to bomb…
    Should’ve listened to me EA. LOL

    Well, time to send out more applications ^_^

  2. Neo_DrKefka says:

    And if you live in any city that had a heavy Industrial Presence you all know those jobs have left the United States period or relocated to a state where Unions are scarce. Unionizing the workforce has lead to an economic depression in this country when it comes to those who want to work in an Industrial Field because there not many positions at all in those fields.

    You want to setup a union shop for white collar workers this branch of Rockstar will leave the state or country.

  3. Skillz817 says:

    I’d hate to read about how activision treats their employees with their shameless exploitation of their franchises.

    Courage is not the absence of fear, but the strength to overcome it.

  4. jedidethfreak says:

    Still more proof that Rockstar sucks donkey balls.

    You KILL Vampires. You don’t DATE them.

  5. Valdearg says:

    Nobody is saying they aren’t thankful to be employed, but Corporate Abuse is Corporate Abuse. It’s wrong for a Corporation to treat it’s employees like dogs, just to turn an extra profit. It’s what prompted employee unions to form back in the Industrial Era, remember.

  6. Neo_DrKefka says:

    It comes to the point where you should be thankful to even have a job. You have many baby boomers who for years have not felt the plight of the young to where they are forced to take low paying jobs after finishing college because they have Federally Insured Debt called student loans which often these Adults find themselves overqualified or employers unwilling to pay a wage desired or simply the adult does not have work experience except a focus on education.

    I hate my job, and I going to risk complaining to the point where we force that office to another state or another country? I am a victim of Off shoring an office to another company…I had a nice job, car and nice benefits and it’s gone now to India.

    These people are pretty much begging this company to go off shore. I understand these family’s are hurting anyone working a desk job know work life balance does get out of whack but be thankful you have a job. Complain yeah and look for another job and look how hard it is, then yeah be thankful you have a job.

  7. Talouin says:

    100% agree.  The moment you move hobby into the realm of work, it inevitably becomes just that… work.

  8. GoodRobotUs says:

    This is why I won’t work in game design. I love writing games, but am certain that after a few months of workinig for a developer, I would hate it. You only have to look at the attitudes of companies like Activision to realise that many larger developers would rather be sweat-shops than centres of intellectual and artistic excellence.

  9. Neo_DrKefka says:

    You don’t work for a high school bully, that is simple theft.

    It’s basically, I am a shop keeper I need workers and you need a pay check it shouldn’t be the shop keeper who is happy to now have to pay you. It’s you should give the shop keeper or owner a reason why they should give you the privilege to work for him and gain a pay check when someone else can do it with less trouble?

    Problem is as a country, we no longer make things or no how to do things. We are a service industry now, but we expect everything to come to us we went to college now give me my full time job with benefits making over 40,000 a year but that’s showing not to happen a good majority of young Americans. Our industry.

    To make these worse our Government and our Country expects us to raise the standards and keep taxing more from our generation and the next without having the means to pay for anything.

  10. Magic says:

    "Of course, there will be idiots out there who say "Don’t like it? Leave! Employment is at will, and thats how the free market works!!""

    Yep, there are several chumps saying that at Eurogamer (No disrespect intended to the rest of them though :-). Here’s part of what I posted there:

    Let’s look at the specific claim mentioned in the [EG] article:
    …with employees expected to work 12-hour days, including Saturdays, while overtime and holiday time have been cut and pay-rises have barely covered inflation.
    The first half is expected around crunch time, I’ve done it before (Though not 12 hours every single day, that is absurd). On one hand, overtime towards the last quarter of a project is to be expected – ideally a project should not plan or expect overtime to occur, but it happens.

    However, it can only go so far (say more than a month, though it depends per project) and after that it becomes an issue resulting in bad management – where the ‘March of Doom’ can have an enormously negative affect on people, their energy and their morale.

    On the title I was part of, during crunch, holiday times had to be approved by the senior producer on a case-by-case basis. The dev team did get a bonus for reaching the ship date (Though this didn’t include other parts of the company, like QA) which was a major boost to motivation, but it doesn’t appear that the Rockstar staff are getting such, while if they’re not getting necessary and fair pay-rises (Which is hard to judge on the info we have from the spouse) then that is definitely a problem.

    I then read the letter in full and it’s clear that a boiling point has been reached – one of the employees has had a serious stress-related problem occur, that’s the catalyst for the letter, this isn’t just a spouse solely ranting about work taking up all of her husband’s time. Hopefully Rockstar do something about it like EA apparently (‘Apparently’) did a year or so ago. They can’t ignore all of this publicity, surely.

  11. Bennett Beeny says:

    "Of course, there will be idiots out there who say "Don’t like it? Leave! Employment is at will, and thats how the free market works!!""

    Yup. These same folks see nothing wrong in employers having Chambers of Commerce and other employers unions to look after their interests, but when workers get together to do the same, all of a sudden it’s wrong and anti-capitalist.

    In a truly free market, employees would be free to unionize and band together to enhance their earning potential. Without that freedom, capitalism is a bad joke.

  12. DarkSaber says:

    It’s all been downhill since that bastard term "Human Resources" was introduced to companies.


    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  13. Valdearg says:

    Isn’t Corporate Abuse FUN?!

    Really, in an economy like todays, Corporations have even more power over thier employees, and see times like these as perfect times to levy rediculous and harmful requirements on those working for them for little or no compensation.

    Of course, there will be idiots out there who say "Don’t like it? Leave! Employment is at will, and thats how the free market works!!" Who, in thier right mind, would leave a job in this economy, even if that job is abusive, thankless, and dominating your life? An income is an income, in this day and age. These corporations need to get off of thier power trip and realize that these employees are PEOPLE, and they are the ones making the Corporate Officers’ sorry asses rich! They shouldn’t be treating them like cattle or taking them for granted! They should be rewarding these hard working employees, paying them more, and giving them time off for thier hard work, not going from one crunch time to another.

  14. hellfire7885 says:

    SO basically it’s a high school mentality.


    You’re a nerd, so I can treat you however I want, now go make me money"

  15. State says:

    Going to interviews with games companies it was clear that staff are treated appallingly. What was discussed above is more of the norm rather than an exception.

  16. Cerabret100 says:

    This is why as much as i love gaming as a hobby, i want to keep it just that, a hobby.

    Kudos to those who tough it out, and i always keep it in the back of my head as a secondary should zoology fail me. but other than fate knocking at the door with a developing job, i’ll stick to the consumer side of the equation.

  17. DarkSaber says:

    "Business tries to get the most work for the least money out of employees"



    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

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