Red Dead Redemption 2 was created by an industry in dire need of reform

Controversy surrounding the masterpiece has highlighted developers’ working conditions. The time for change has come

Last Friday, Rockstar Games released its turn-of-the-century American opus Red Dead Redemption 2, a stubbornly slow-paced and absurdly detailed triumph that has expanded the boundaries of what is possible in a virtual world. And yet many questioned whether people should buy it.

In an interview with New York published ahead of the game’s release, Rockstar’s co-founder Dan Houser made an ill-judged comment: “We were working 100-hour weeks several times in 2018.” The games industry is infamous for its demanding work culture – developers often boast about their hours – and in another year Houser’s remark might have passed without comment. But 2018 has marked a turning point, because high-profile studio closures and a number of stories in the games press have shone a light on working conditions that prioritise long hours over employees’ welfare. The idea that games have a human cost has settled in the minds of players. We must hope this is the first significant step towards reform.

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