Controversy surrounding the masterpiece has highlighted developers’ working conditions. The time for change has come
Last Friday, Rockstar Games released its turn-of-the-century American opus Red Dead Redemption 2, a stubbornly slow-paced and absurdly detailed triumph that has expanded the boundaries of what is possible in a virtual world. And yet many questioned whether people should buy it.
In an interview with New York published ahead of the game’s release, Rockstar’s co-founder Dan Houser made an ill-judged comment: “We were working 100-hour weeks several times in 2018.” The games industry is infamous for its demanding work culture – developers often boast about their hours – and in another year Houser’s remark might have passed without comment. But 2018 has marked a turning point, because high-profile studio closures and a number of stories in the games press have shone a light on working conditions that prioritise long hours over employees’ welfare. The idea that games have a human cost has settled in the minds of players. We must hope this is the first significant step towards reform.