Earlier this week, some startling and rather unprecedented news came to light over the treatment of the Australian development team behind Rockstar’s recently released L. A. Noire. After over 100 Team Bondi designers and staff were left out of the credits of the game, anonymous insiders began speaking up over the brutal work conditions that founder Brendan McNamara instilled. With accusations piling up, the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) is stepping in for a full investigation.
From the initial claims, work conditions at Team Bondi were something akin to a “sweat shop,” with coders and designers working anywhere between 80 to 110-hour workweeks when certain milestones were due. That’s not including the average 60-hour workweek during a three-year period. Unfortunately, the long hours were nothing compared to the extreme turnover rates that the company saw.
“Out of the 45 people that no longer worked at the studio, 11 were fired. Out of the 34 that actually decided to leave, 25 of those were coders; most of whom had no job to go to, since they decided that it was better to be unemployed than to be working there. I was one of those.”
It became so bad for one of the sources that working at Team Bondi made him want to stop working in the industry as a whole, and knew other designers that felt the same way:
“I left because of stress and working conditions, mainly. But the trigger was this: I received a reprimand for ‘conduct and punctuality’ for being 15 minutes late to work. I arrived at 9:15am — despite the fact I had only left work around 3:15am the same day, and paid for my own taxi home!”
McNamara, who has at this point defended himself and the conditions by saying “We all work the same hours,” has also been pointed out as one of the “angriest people ever known,” and would scream at designers in the middle of the office if they were not working up to caliber.
Initially, the IGDA had refused to make comment until they had received more information on the matter. Now, they are asking that anyone with further information — ex-employees, family members, or otherwise — should contact the group immediately. Brian Roberts, chair of the IGDA Board of Directors, had this statement:
“[But] certainly reports of 12-hour a day, lengthy crunch time, if true, are absolutely unacceptable and harmful to the individuals involved, the final product, and the industry as a whole.”
While several of the accusations have yet to be substantiated, the full investigation will hopefully bring into light what has been done — maliciously or otherwise — towards the Team Bondi team. It is a true shame that something this dark can happen in the industry, yet it’s a comfort that the appropriate actions are being taken.
This does brings back memories of the complaints launched against Rockstar San Diego for Red Dead Redemption for similar working conditions, yet at the time it was only one person speaking out. Right after Red Dead Redemption won “Game of the Year,” an ex-worker began to speak out over extended work days, under paid workers, and other issues. Unfortunately, the issue went away without further investigation, and nothing was done further.
As more develops, we’ll be sure to bring you the latest.
Source: Develop Online