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Is It Worth Working a 100 Hour Week?

This entry to the #OscarBlog Series was written by our very own "avid gamer", Managing Consultant Aaron Stebbings!


Red Dead Redemption 2, the newest open-world game from acclaimed studio Rockstar, released at the end of October with resounding success. What you may not have seen or heard about is what happened behind the scenes - About a week before it’s release, the Co-Founder of Rockstar, Dan Houser, came out and made a small comment that almost broke the internet – “we were working 100 hour weeks”.

Dan Houser was referring to his team that created the game – Developers, CG artists, Testers etc. It created massive controversy, with consumers going as far as to say that they weren’t going to buy the game due to the studio being “unethical” in how it worked.

Now that the game has released and the dust has settled a little, we’re able to look at things a little more objectively; The game currently stands at 97 (out of 100) on Metacritic, a review site which collates scores across a number of critics. I’ve been an avid gamer since I was a kid and that score is insane and shows a level of quality which is rarely hit in games.

The sales numbers are even more insane. The game achieved “…the single-biggest opening weekend in the history of entertainment” at $725 million worldwide retail consumer sales. To put that in context, Avengers: Infinity War grossed just over $640 million in its first weekend on the big screen.

So it seems that the statement clearly didn’t have the negative impact that the internet made out (another discussion entirely about keyboard warriors and those who just want to see the world burn…)

Is the cost of time worth more than money and success? Would the game have been such a success if that “crunch-time” hadn’t happened? What do the people who work those kind of hours think?

I’ve spoken to a few of the Contractors that work via Oscar about this; some have said it’s appalling; time is the most precious commodity, after all. Others (Developers in particular) have said that if they cared about the product enough, then coding it is just what you do because you want to, not because you have to.

I can’t see many people being okay with working those hours though. But then the game has, quite literally, created history, so maybe it is?

I think the answer is actually quite personal. Everybody’s “time” is priced differently and everybody’s association with work is different. I’ve worked in two different industries, one as a Financial Trader and the other as a Recruiter. Both jobs require “more than normal hours” to be successful in - not that I was ever a successful trader by the way, or I’d be writing this sat on my yacht off the coast of Spain (*stares longingly out the window*)… Either way, I’ve worked long hours for most of my life to try and, quite simply, earn more money and set myself up for a life where money doesn’t define how I live.

100 hour weeks though? Can’t say I’ve done that. I love games, I really do, and a part of me thinks that if it was towards something like creating a game which I really believed in or a piece of art that held a bit of my soul in it, then yeah, maybe. For now, the extra hours I put in are almost always for a different goal and not really related to the actual product – I’ll do it if it benefits me. This is ironic in recruitment because that ultimately means I end up providing a better service to candidates and clients by doing more than the norm to help them.

What are your thoughts? Is it fair that “crunch time” is becoming more of a regular thing? Is it something that is just accepted in the IT Industry? Should it be?

Ultimately, why would we do it? Are the motives behind it selfish – to better ourselves, make our CV’s look better, work the way up the ladder, earn more money? Or are there those who do it for something else, for the product, for the service, whatever it may be? I’d love to hear from you…