Jim Sterling has released a new episode of his popular Youtube series, The Jimquisition, providing a peak behind the curtain at Rockstar Games, straight from the mouths of some of the company’s former developers. The details provided in his video paint a stark image for what it is allegedly like to work at Rockstar Games, but people need to be aware of just what is going on behind closed doors, and the ways that employees are allegedly treated when making these large-scale, critically-acclaimed games. The identities of these former developers have been protected, remaining anonymous, but Sterling did state that he personally verified their identities.
One of the anonymous former developers stated that fear was often a tactic used by higher ups in the company. One such person, Jeronimo Barrera, the former Vice President of Product Development at Rockstar Games, was literally referred to as the “Darth Vader of Rockstar.” The former employee elaborated on exactly what he meant by that statement, saying:
If the Housers were the Emperor, Barrera was the guy they sent in to get shit done. There’s that scene in Return of the Jedi where Vader comes to the new Death Star and says, ‘I’m here to kick ass and The Emperor is following.’ That’s what those meetings were. He’d kick the crap out of the studio to keep them productive and say, ‘by the way, the Housers are coming in a month, this needs to work.’
Other accounts from former developers state that Barrera made the work environment as a whole extremely uncomfortable due to his anger issues. It was stated that he would often threaten people’s jobs over trivial things as well. One former developer elaborated on these issues and the sorts of things that would set him off, stating:
The dude was petty and had personal vendettas against people all the time, made work super uncomfortable. He had anger issues—yelling, throwing things. Say or do one ‘wrong’ thing in front of him and you could get fired on the spot. Laugh with him about something, you might get yelled at because he meant to be ‘serious.’
Former developers even spoke of employees being fired by management simply for trying to make improvements to a particular game. One example was given where an employee was allegedly fired due to the fact that he felt that Rockstar’s combat system needed to be updated. When he tried to take the initiative, he was fired simply because management didn’t agree with his constructive criticisms and opinions that the game’s combat system was outdated.
One former developer compared Rockstar Games to a fraternity. They stated that if they wanted to work their way up in the company, they would need to attend parties that were organized by the higher ups like Barerra. A source added to this statement by saying:
It’s a big thing at Rockstar to be invited out after work, it’s how people get ‘in’ with the bigwigs to make the salaries they want to make. Jeronimo and similar important people would set up these outings, but keep the circle small.
All of these stories paint a stark image of the alleged issues that hard working developers and employees have faced when working at Rockstar Games. It is extremely sad to hear stories like this, yet they are unfortunately all too common in the games industry. Last year we reported on a story where Rockstar Games Co-Founder Dan Houser spoke about employees and how some of them worked 100 hour work weeks during Red Dead Redemption 2‘s development cycle, and these new accounts only add to a growing list of issues surrounding work conditions at Rockstar Games.
Keep in mind that these were former developers, and nothing has been verified, so these allegations remain just that for the time being. Due to these being former employees, we also don’t know if the culture has changed any since these alleged incidents took place.
As long as reports like these continue to see the light of day, there is hope that things can evolve into a better games industry—one that supports the hard working developers, instead of hindering them at every turn by making their lives more difficult than they already are.
What do you think about what these former developers had to say about the ways they were treated while working at Rockstar Games? Let us know your thoughts on the matter in the comments below!
[Source: Jim Sterling]