The lights are on
The International Game Developers Association is reportedly set to investigate the accusations leveled at L.A. Noire developer Team Bondi about the working conditions experienced by team members on the project, according to Joystiq. In the story Joystiq quotes IDGA chair Brian Robbins as saying "the organization will be soliciting reports, 'positive or
negative,' from "any Team Bondi employee and/or family member."
L.A. Noire is one of the year's breakout new titles, garnering strong sales and critical accolades for its complex narrative and groundbreaking animation techniques. However, many now ex-Team Bondi employees are speaking out about the working conditions they suffered through while working on the game. One of the most common allegations being leveled at Team Bondi, which surfaced in an article published on IGN UK, is work weeks that sometimes stretched to 100 hours. Employees say this was the result of a "crunch time" mentality that kept most working at least 60 hours a week on average."The crunch was ongoing. It just kept on shifting; an ominous crunch that just keeps moving, and moving. Management would say, 'Oh, it'll finish once we meet this deadline,' but the deadline kept moving. That went on for a good year," said one anonymous developer.Another claims to have worked 15 hour days non-stop for a period of three weeks. According to the ex-staff, this type of overtime was considered mandatory by Team Bondi's leader Brendan McNamara."There was simply an expectation that you'd work overtime and weekends," said another anonymous source. "I was told that I was taking the p--- by saying that I couldn't give every single one of my weekends away. We were looked at as a disposable resource, basically. Their attitude is: 'It's a privilege to work for us, and if you can't hack it, you should leave.' I heard one of the upper echelons say pretty much that. I thought it was disgusting. I don't understand how they can't see that maintaining talent would actually be good for them." The ex-staffers also criticized McNamara's management style, one terming the developer "the angriest person he'd ever met."For his part, McNamara acknowledges that the team had to work long hours during the development of L.A. Noire, saying, "If you want to do a nine-to-five job, you [should] be in another business." Faced with claims that some Team Bondi developers had to at times worked more than 100 hours per week, McNamara said “We all [at the studio] work the same hours. People don't work any longer hours than I do."
He continued, "Whether it's in London or New York or wherever; you're competing against the best people in the world at what they do, and you just have to be prepared to do what you have to do to compete against those people."
He also denied that he was abusive towards the staff. "Am I passionate about making the game? Absolutely. Do you think that I'm going to voice my opinion? Absolutely. But I don't think that's verbal abuse."
This is not the first time that employees who worked on a major Rockstar game have spoken up after the development to criticize the working conditions. Following the release of Red Dead Redemption, members of the Rockstar San Diego team offered similar stories of the working conditions on the project.
For more, read the original story on IGN UK and the follow-up stories on Develop.
Email the author Matt Helgeson, or follow on Twitter, and Game Informer.