A WEST KILBRIDE man involved in one of the most eagerly awaited video games in history has hit out at a storm over staff working 100 hour weeks.

Keith Thorburn has been working on Red Dead Redemption 2, released by Rockstar Games, the developer behind the Grand Theft Auto games.

The game follows a gang of US outlaws at the tail end of the 19th Century and is expected to sell upwards of 50 million copies when it is released on Friday.

However, it has been overshadowed by claims of staff being forced to work 100 hour plus weeks to meet the deadline.

The figure came from Rockstar founder, Dan Houser, in an interview with the New York Magazine.

He had told the publication: “We were working 100-hour weeks” sparking concerns for the company’s workers. Houser has subsequently said he was talking about his own work and that of a handful of senior staff and even then was voluntary.

Now Keith, who works on audio for the company, has backed his boss, while acknowledging the intended support coming from the gaming community.

He said: “This was one of the most rewarding and least stressful projects I’ve worked on.

“I know what epic crunch feels like but this was managed in such a way that I felt happy and healthy. I can only speak of my own experience but I know in recent chats with the rest of my team we all remarked upon how we’d found a very healthy work/life balance on RDR2, which has always seemed like the holy grail of game development!

“Did I work overtime? Yes, but never excessively and always by choice. Often when I stayed a little later it was because I had an imminent day off or holiday booked and didn’t want to walk away from things and worry about them on my break.

“I’m a worrier so was all for my own peace of mind.

“Usually staying later meant an extra 2-3 hours a night during the week or two before a deadline.

“I was never asked to do it or made to feel any pressure to do it, and the company fed me on these night.

“One night was a bit of an exception – I had a block of time off booked right at a deadline week so to make absolutely sure I’d quadruple-checked all my work I stayed until 2am the night before my holiday.

“It was the only day I did anything like those hours, my lead assured me it wasn’t necessary, but I wanted to enjoy my holiday knowing it was done.

“A good example of the lack of pressure was when I came down with pericarditis.

“It’s a temporary viral heart problem which meant a sudden trip to hospital.

“Everyone was really supportive and told me to take all the time I needed.

“I came into work a day or so later because while I was still in some pain I felt I could probably soldier through.

“As soon as HR got wind that I was in the office I was sent home in a taxi and told to take at least the week off and not to return until I’d seen a doctor who approved.

“I wanted to work, but they wanted me to get better.

“I’ve worked call centre or retail positions where there was less understanding of illness than I encounter at Rockstar.

“I do want to say that reaction to these stories from gamers and the game press has been totally understandable!

“It’s really nice and encouraging to know that the gaming community have our backs and want to support developers and it’s obvious hearts are all in the right place!

“It’s just a shame that the aim is a bit off, especially right now. After years of work to be really, unbelievably proud of what we’ve made and excited about putting it out there and then see this negativity snowballing is really depressing for me.

“I know people think they’re fighting the good fight, and the sentiment is appreciated, but it’s really been a bummer to see.”

He also welcomed a relaxation of restrictions which have allowed staff to talk about the game.

“We were frustrated about not being able to respond to the misinformation going around.

“It was very upsetting to have worked so long on something and be so proud and excited to share it and to have to watch this story snowball and threaten to overshadow that, and be powerless to speak up and try and put the record straight.”