Former Rockstar Dev Says His Work There Was Like "Working With a Gun to Your Head"

Following the revelation that the team behind Red Dead Redemption 2 put in numerous 100-hour workweeks to meet their deadlines in a new interview with Rockstar Studios co-founder Dan Houser earlier this week, more and more employees are speaking up about their professional experiences with the company.

Job J Stauffer is no stranger when it comes to speaking up and out about potential maltreatment. He was also one of the developers that lent his voice following the abrupt shutdown of Telltale Games, and now he's speaking out again with his own experiences when working on Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto franchise. The picture he paints? Not so flattering to the company.

When Kotaku's Jason Schreier put out a Tweet asking for first-hand accounts on what it's like working for the company, Stauffer immediately took to the thread to lend his own experience. In the responding tweet, he mentioned "It's been nearly a decade since I parted from Rockstar, but I can assure you that during the GTA IV era, it was like working with a gun to your head 7 days a week. "Be here Saturday & Sunday too, just in case Sam or Dan come in, they want to see everyone working as hard as them.""

He then added in a separate thread, "There was an instance in 08 or 09 when I legitimately had THE FLU. Needed a day off. Went to Drx, got an Rx for Tamiflu, had an allergic reaction, tweeted a photo, then got put on notice for not coming in to work and 'fooling around on twitter' instead. True story. F*****g crazy."

Since then, Houser released a statement to Kotaku clarifying his earlier statements made in the initial interview that sparked it all:

"There seems to be some confusion arising from my interview with [Vulture’s] 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."

Houser's clarification is a clear juxtaposition to Stauffer's statement and though it is important to note that the latter did not work on the same team as Red Dead Redemption 2, he's not the first to speak ill of the conditions and seeing the drastic versions of the work environment side-by-side does paint an ugly picture.