Editor’s note: Ryan Smith is a longtime gamer and freelance writer who lives in Raleigh, NC. A graduate of East Carolina University with a degree in business and marketing, he has written in the past for WRAL Tech Wire and GameArgus.com. He currently plays Xbox 360 and PC as well as Nintendo DS. For story ideas, tips and feedback, he can be reached via e-mail (ryannicksmith@gmail.com)

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. — ”L.A. Noire,” May’s PS3 and Xbox 360 detective game, was universally praised. It is a game that plays like no other, with its revolutionary motion-capture technology, incredibly detailed 1947 L.A. and movie-quality acting. However as “L.A. Noire” is intentionally a bleak game, its creation was also part of a dark spot in video gaming history.

Over the past couple weeks, it has surfaced that many employees were subjected to harsh working conditions as part of Team Bondi’s seven-year development of “Noire.” Sixty- to100-hour work weeks are reported, accompanied by claims of no overtime pay. The situation sounds completely grueling, and I can’t imagine working for Team Bondi president Brendan McNamara, described by an anonymous employee as “the angriest person they had ever met.” Things were so bad that Rockstar Games, “L.A. Noire’s” publisher, has refused to work with Team Bondi in the future.

As depressing as it is to see what has become of a developer in my favorite industry, it is with perhaps a hint of justice that news has surfaced now that Team Bondi has undergone “administration,” which means an outside agency has been appointed to sell off assets, find a buyer or find some magical way of reducing enough costs to save the company from insolvency.

Team Bondi relied heavily upon publisher Rockstar for funds during “Noire’s” long development cycle, with an employee claiming they would have “gone under years ago” if not for Rockstar and adding that the publisher is the true reason “Noire” survived and became a success, not McNamara. So without Rockstar’s support, it seems Team Bondi may not even stay afloat.

When facing the allegations of harsh conditions under his leadership, McNamara stated, “I’m not in any way upset or disappointed by what I’ve done, and what I’ve achieved.” However now that Rockstar has gone away, Team Biondi battles insolvency. Even if he still has no regrets, those employees who haven’t already left are probably better off, at least in my opinion. I have worked under similar conditions before in a different technology industry, and as I made the decision to leave, I was happier instantly and remained so. I can only hope the same goes for those who were subjected to the reported conditions at Team Bondi.

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