Wednesday, January 13, 2010

About that Rockstar post...

2 1/2 years ago, I wrote a little post about my time at Rockstar Games. It set off a shitstorm of controversy for a little while (including articles in Newsweek and the Wall Street Journal), along with around 250,000 page views on my blog in the span of 36 hours. I still get lots of email about it - mostly asking where it went. A couple days ago, apparently a group of Rockstar San Diego spouses released their own "open letter" expressing similar sentiments about the working conditions there, and a bunch of sites started linking to my now-defunct post on the internet archive. And people started commenting on it again around the net, in the often ill-informed way that internet commenters do. And the volume of emails I've been getting about it started going back up. So maybe it's time for a little followup.

Anyway, that's already one answer down - that's where you can read it. I'm not going to link to it directly because I don't need to be giving it any more link juice. But go ahead and search the internet archive if you want.

I've answered most of the other questions people regularly ask in various other places, but I guess I may as well gather them all here so I can just start pushing out this link in response to any further emails I get.

Q: Are you the "former Rockstar NYC staffer" mentioned in this MTV news story?

A: No, and I don't know who it is either. I was not the only one who felt the way I did about working at Rockstar, so there are probably a lot of people who would give quotes like that if you asked them. But I don't even know what the hell the "Eye of Sauron" is, so that's definitely not something I would say.

I haven't done any interviews about this, so nothing you see attributed to anonymous sources is coming from me.

Q: Why did you take the post down, and why so long after the fact?

A: I left the post up through the initial rush because it was getting a lot of media attention and I didn't want to look like I was bowing to pressure. (Actually, I was not under any - nobody in any position of power at Rockstar or Take-2 ever contacted me, probably because they knew that everything I said in the post was true.) But the thought did cross my mind to take it down as early as the hour that I posted it, when I saw the links starting to come in. It was a little scary how fast it all happened.

Approximately 2 months after I posted it, when things had calmed down a bit, I checked my site stats as I often do and I noticed something that freaked me out a little bit. Somebody from within Rockstar was systematically clicking the links to my post from every story that had been written about it all over the internet. And they were doing it repeatedly. It was like they were gathering evidence. The particular pattern of what they were doing, combined with it being so long after the post had gone up, scared me. I took the post down, knowing that it was probably much too late if any legal action was coming, but I just didn't see any real need to keep it up any longer anyway - I figured everybody who I actually wanted to read it had by then.

Q: Why did you write it to begin with?

A: For personal reasons, really. I like to write and it was a subject that just seemed like it'd make a good blog post. I wasn't trying to make a big news story out of it, and I sure as hell didn't do it for profit. Not that I think there'd have been anything wrong with that if I had.

Q: Did the legal action you feared ever come?

A: No, though I suppose there's nothing preventing it even now if they wanted to be real dicks about it. I don't believe there's any basis for legal action - everything I said was true. There was no slander or libel. I was very careful about that. A lot of my former co-workers said I didn't go far enough. Re-reading the post now, I actually think that even the opinions were pretty balanced, and no facts were incorrect or invented. But you know, companies sue people all the time just to be assholes. So I still worry a little.

Q: Do you regret writing it?

A: No. It was an interesting experience, afterwards. That's what life's about.

Q: How did it "blow up" the way it did? Do you know how it spread?

A: I'll just say that it originated within Rockstar.

Q: Have you talked to the Housers, Terry Donovan, or any of the other directors at Rockstar since writing the post?

A: No, and I doubt I will. But Sam Houser did say some things about me and my post in the Wall Street Journal article, so he was obviously among the many Rockstar employees who I saw in my site stats reading it.

I don't honestly have any bad feelings towards them personally. In fact, I'm sure they're fun guys to hang out and get drunk with. They always reminded me of my rowdier college roommates.

And no, I don't know where any of them are today or how to contact them, including JG.

Q: Have you talked to anyone else you worked with at Rockstar since writing the post?

A: Yes, all the time. We grunts all stick together :) Most of us have gone on to bigger and better things. Several of us now own our own businesses.

Q: Has Rockstar or Take-2 ever contacted you in any official capacity about the post?

A: Never. Maybe the last part of my post taught them something they'd forgotten.

Q: Do you know if anything has changed at Rockstar as a result of your post?

A: Nope.

Q: Do you regret working at Rockstar?

A: No, and I never said I did. I said I wished the company was managed better. Do you regret being an American just because you don't like the government?

Well, hopefully that covers it - those are the questions I've gotten just in the past few weeks.

Oh, and to answer a few of the dumber forum posts I've read - no, this was not my first job; yes, I am older and more experienced than you (in more ways than one); and no, most jobs are not like that one was. If you believe otherwise, be my guest and allow yourself to be a doormat for the rest of your life. See how far you get, how happy you are and how long you live.

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About This Blog

This is increasingly not a blog about Alphabet City, New York. I used to live in the East Village and work on Avenue B, but I no longer do. Why don't I change the name if I'm writing about Japan and video games and guitars? Because New Yorkers are well-rounded people with varied interests, and mine have gone increasingly off the rails over the years. And I don't feel like changing the name. I do still write about New York City sometimes.

About Me

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I'm married. I like to travel. I have no kids. I have a house... that I'm bad at maintaining. I used to collect classic video games. I own a lot of musical equipment that far outstrips my ability to use it. When I was younger, I was in a band. I like gadgets, and I'm an Android guy. Someday, I would like to live on a different planet.

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