On January 7, 2010 a post was made to Gamasutra Blogs under the tagline Rockstar Spouse. This tagline was a direct reference to the EA_Spouse tagline used by a woman who posted on Livejournal about the working conditions of Electronic Arts in 2004. Rockstar Spouse was posted by a group of women whose husbands were working at Rockstar San Diego during the making of Red Dead Redemption.
The following represents an archived account of this story. First, the original post: Wives of Rockstar San Diego employees have collected themselves.
Though it did not receive the outpouring of response and degree of media attention garnered by EA Spouse in 2004, the Rockstar Spouse story was covered by a number of media outlets and cross-posted on other game industry sites.
Kotaku: Jan. 8, 2010: Alleged Unfair Work Conditions At Rockstar San Diego
Gamasutra: Jan. 13, 2010: Controversy Erupts Over Rockstar San Diego Employee Allegations
Gamers With Jobs: A New EA Spouse Controversy, Now At Rockstar San Diego
libcom,org: Video game industry and crunch time
The story got a little strange when it was reported on January 12 that a former staffer of Rockstar NY compared the company to the Eye of Sauron and then Rockstar released new wallpaper downloads that featured the Eye of Sauron on Jan 15:
That same day, Kotaku followed up with an official response from Rockstar to the Rockstar Spouse controversy:
Kotaku: Jan. 15, 2010: Rumor: Rockstar Responds To Allegations Of Poor Work Conditions
Kotaku: Jan. 21, 2010: Rockstar Responds to Rockstar Spouse Controversy
Eurogamer: Jan. 22, 2010: Rockstar denies San Diego accusations Eurogamer
Response to Allegations of Excessive Work at Rockstar
The International Game Developers Association weighed in with comments of their own on Jan 12. This press release expresses support to the employees of Rockstar San Diego and makes general comments against the practice of "excessive, uncompensated overtime". Note that the press release makes mention of data from the 2009 Quality of Life Survey and says that a full white paper on that data will be available in the second quarter of 2010. Due to the myriad demands of the IGDA's volunteer Quality of Life Committee, this paper did not materialize until we authored the report on their behalf. The report is released by the IGDA in a 'data only' report on its website. The full report that we authored is available on the homepage of this website and contains additional interpretation of the data. The following are the IGDA press release regarding Rockstar San Diego and subsequent news coverage of that release:
GamesIndustrybiz: Jan. 14, 2010: IGDA responds to Rockstar Spouse accusations
Game Politics: Jan. 14, 2010: IGDA, Rockstar Reply to Allegations of Over Work
GameSpot: Rockstar complaints get IGDA response
The Escapist: IGDA Responds to Rockstar Wives
Rockstar San Diego had faced these issues before. In April of 2009 they settled out of court in a case of unpaid overtime. Here is coverage of the case from Joystiq: Rockstar quietly settled class-action lawsuit with 'over 100' ex-Rockstar San Diego employees
On Jan 14, 2010 Joystiq ran an additional story where a purported employee at Rockstar Vancouver alleged that the conditions that they were experiencing while working on Max Payne 3 were similar to those at Rockstar San Diego: Source: Max Payne 3 development allegedly also suffering from mismanagement.
In response to general labour concerns, Rockstar transitioned game-testers from contract workers to full-time contracts in 2019. This also came with a recent hiring push from Rockstar to have more game testers at it’s Lincoln, United Kingdom studio, the primary studio responsible for testing the various games produced by the video game publisher.
Stephen Totilo on Kotaku: Aug 6, 2019: Months After Labor Controversy, Rockstar Converts Game-Testers To Full-Time
Reuben Pinder on Joe: Mar 13, 2019: Rockstar Games is Looking to Hire Full Time Game Testers