Red Dead Redemption 2 Head Writer Clarifies 100-Hour Work Week Comments

By Sam Quirke,
writer Dan Houser came under fire after an interview with Vulture suggested that Rockstar had been working 100-hour weeks. Houser later clarified that he was talking about the writers.

Rockstar Drops Details on the Frontier of Red Dead Redemption 2

The controversy started with Houser's interview with Vulture, where Houser's words are noticeably cut down to just the sensational part:

The polishing, rewrites, and reedits Rockstar does are immense. “We were working 100-hour weeks” several times in 2018, Dan says. The finished game includes 300,000 animations, 500,000 lines of dialogue, and many more lines of code. Even for each RDR2 trailer and TV commercial, “we probably made 70 versions, but the editors may make several hundred. Sam and I will both make both make lots of suggestions, as will other members of the team.”
A Rockstar representative (given the wording, presumably Houser himself) later clarified what some of us suspected to Kotaku — that Houser was only talking about himself and the small group of senior staff who write Rockstar's games.

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.
The games industry community on social media got suitably incensed by Houser's initial comments, but the additional context gives us pause. While employers shouldn't compel or threaten employees into working extreme amounts of overtime, there are probably many individual writers from across all forms of entertainment who would admit to a few weeks of crunch to get their project finished. Ultimately if an individual or a small group of senior colleagues decide to push through on their particular piece of work, that seems less controversial. However the actions of senior colleagues set an implicit standard to the rest of the workforce and the industry at large. Wherever we all land on this topic, the controversial issue of "crunch" is sure to continue as more renowned studios find themselves under the spotlight.

We've got the full list of Red Dead Redemption 2 trophies - check the list for guides to unlocking them.
Sam Quirke
Written by Sam Quirke
Sam has been a Newshound since 2016 and is now the Editor for both TrueAchievements and TrueTrophies. He loves gaming on all devices and in all genres. He remains a stubborn Assassin's Creed and Pokémon fan.
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