Amy Hennig, former writer and director for Naughty Dog Inc.’s games like the Uncharted series, openly criticized the practices of AAA gaming industries on Idle Thumbs’s podcast Designer Notes for the episode on September 20th. She claimed working 12 hours a day averaging to 80 hours a week or more, citing fellow employees who “never go home and see their families [that include] children [growing] up without seeing them”. She goes into further detail about the consequences of the long hours, alleging employees “collapsed, or had to go and check themselves in somewhere when one of these games were done. Or got divorced”.
When host Soren Johnson asked if making AAA games were worth the sacrifices, Hennig answered “I don’t think so [because] my health really declined [and it affected] my family”. She then goes on to say that “we have to get our act figured out as an industry”, comparing AAA game production to “an arms race that is unwinnable and is destroying people”. Hennig eventually finished answering Johnson’s question with a chilling call to action: “We shouldn’t be lauding games that are soaked in the blood of the people that made them”.
Rockstar Games, developer of the Grand Theft Auto series, has similarly been criticized of demanding long hours and enormous sacrifices from its employees, causing employees’ wives to protest and prepare to “take legal action against Rockstar San Diego”. It would seem tight deadlines and long work schedules have become common practice in the AAA gaming industry, yet few have been willing to discuss their experiences with such candor. Perhaps it is incumbent on us as players to dig into our favorite developer’s managerial practices so we can avoid supporting the unethical treatment of our industry’s creators.