It may be a dream for some hopeful graduates, but the reality of constructing videos games can turn into a nightmare. Especially if you happen to contemplating such a career in the homeland of TrumpsVille, the US of A. All too often we’ve seen, heard and read stories of horrific working conditions that are borderline abusive to the developers with their boots on the ground.
Infamous periods of crunch, an industry that burns through employees as if they were cheap coal and gender discrimination are just some of the hazards that developers face, with seemingly little more than a slap on the wrist being given to guilty culprits. There’s a culture of abuse that makes all of this possible, so what are workers doing to combat this?
For years now, developers have been looking to get a proper union organised and recognised, with Game Workers Unite being an organisation that has led the charge for worker rights in the gaming industry when it was formed two years ago. One of its leaders, Emma Kinema, has joined forces with the Communication Workers of America to launch the Campaign to Organize Digital Employees (CODE), which may just be the best effort yet to improve working conditions in the US and Canada.
“Companies in the technology and game industries have gotten away with avoiding accountability for far too long,” CWA President Chris Shelton said in a statement via The Verge.
Workers in these industries are exposing the reality behind the rhetoric. This initiative will help tech and game workers reach the next level in their efforts to exercise their right to join together and demand change.
“We believe workers are strongest when they’re together in one shop in one union, so the disciplines can’t be pitted against each other — none of that’s good for the workers,” Kinema said to the LA Times via Games Industry.
I think in games and tech the wall-to-wall industrial model is the best fit.
Activision Blizzard laying off 800 employees after experiencing a “record year” of sales, Telltale Games essentially gutting itself without warning and Rockstar Games infamously boasting about brutal 100-hour working weeks are just some of the stories of employee abuse that came out in recent memory. All big stories, that prove that game makers do need a union of some sort to watch their backs.
If you need a prime example of a union firing on all cylinders and helping to protect its members, Chris Bratt’s video on when Blizzard had 134 European developers in the crosshairs makes for some fascinating viewing:
Last Updated: January 8, 2020