Shortly after former Red Dead Redemption 2 game designer Colin Bundschu started working at Rockstar Games in November of 2014, he was allegedly groped by Vice President of Product Development Jeronimo Barrera at a nightclub. Bundschu says that Barrera groped him, asked him to sit on his lap, and “rubbed his inner thigh area.”
This is according to a new report by Jason Schreier of Kotaku, who interviewed Bundschu, reviewed a document Bundschu wrote at the time of the incident, and also reviewed emails between Bundschu and Rockstar Games HR. Schreier also reached out to possible witnesses at the nightclub in an attempt to verify Bundschu’s story.
It seems many were reluctant to comment on the situation, whereas others did not remember exactly what happened at the nightclub on Friday, November 21, 2014. One person stated that they didn’t see anything inappropriate happen between Bundschu and Barrera. Another person confirmed Bundschu’s account of what happened. “Jeronimo was grinding up and down on his leg,” they said.
Four coworkers recalled Bundschu telling them about the groping incident after the fact. “He told me he had been groped… He was really upset, so I didn’t want to press him on anything he didn’t want to talk about,” one said. Bundschu ended up reporting the incident to HR on Sunday, November 23, 2014. This sparked an investigation and a series of meetings where it was disputed whether Barrera denied the allegations or didn’t remember the night. Apparently the company took anti-harassment training, but Rockstar HR concluded that the events at the nightclub didn’t happen as Bundschu described.
Bundschu left Rockstar Games in March 2015 to work for Oculus, but his experience at Rockstar soured the industry for him, and he changed careers entirely. Meanwhile, Barrera left Rockstar Games in 2018, and continues to deny Bundschu’s allegations. Employees at Rockstar contacted by Kotaku seem to be at odds when it comes to the quality of the studio’s HR department, with some saying they’ve had no issues and others saying HR “can’t be trusted” and complaining to HR makes people unwanted at the company.
Meanwhile, this isn’t the first story describing a potentially toxic work culture at Rockstar Games. Rockstar has been accused of excessive crunch time, where some employees work 100 hour workweeks. Rockstar’s California office (where Bundschu worked) has also been said to have a “frat house-like” environment.
It will be interesting to see how Rockstar Games and parent company Take-Two Interactive respond to these issues moving forward. In response to Kotaku’s article, Take-Two spokesperson Alan Lewis offered the following statement:
“We take these matters extremely seriously. While we do not comment publicly on the specifics of individual investigations, in any case where an employee raises workplace concerns, we investigate them and take appropriate action.”