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Former Rockstar San Diego Employee Airs Dirty Laundry

by Matt Bertz on Dec 20, 2010 at 10:31 AM

A former Red Dead Redemption developer recently reminisced about his job on his blog, and his memories aren't exactly filled with fondness.

In his blog post entitled "My 'Life' at Rockst*r Games," artist Zero Dean chronicled his tumultuous experiences working at Rockstar San Diego during the development of the studio's landmark open-world western game. From his first few weeks as a new employee in 2007, Dean instantly felt estranged from his fellow employees and the development process, saying "when I asked about learning materials I was told that 'maybe' something could be done and there 'might' be something in the budget to buy some Gnomon instructional videos (my suggestion) — nothing ever came of this."

Then he turned his searing analysis to the game development process, which Dean viewed as extremely inefficient.

"It really wasn't until after my first year at the company when people (higher-ups) started freaking out about how long the project had been in development, how much money was being wasted, and – and this is the big one – release dates," he wrote.

"And that's when the increase in the deception and manipulation by management began – slowly at first – and then over time it got totally nuts (by my standards)."

This lack of a streamlined process, of course, resulted in many people putting in extra time. "The situation at Rockstar only got worse. Hours increased from 8 to 12 – and days increased for 5 to 6. Anyone on a salary was not compensated for the additional hours — as far as our paychecks were concerned, we were still only putting in 40 hours per week."

"Morale continued to deteriorate as the lies increased," he continued. "And everyone was on edge. And we were being spoken to in meetings like incompetent 10 year olds."

Things finally came to a head for Zero Dean when his superior supposedly took credit for his work.

"But it wasn’t until my boss took credit for my work – and politely argued with me about who had actually created it (I had the original documents on my desktop) – that I went back to my desk and started “cleaning” it – and then I realized I wasn’t cleaning it. I was packing."

"I was pretty upset with him over that for a while – but I realize now he deserves my thanks – he pushed me out of hell. And thank you Rockstar. You taught me exactly how I don’t want to run a business or treat employees (or human beings) ever."

That's quite the tale of woe, but without other perspectives that corroborate the situation we have no way of knowing if this is a true reflection of the situation at Rockstar San Diego or the way most employees feel.  Red Dead Redemption is a kickass game, and someone is obviously doing something right over there, but we hope this isn't how they treat employees.