Game industry unionization: Game Workers Unite, IGDA, and GDC


Earlier this week, we covered the emerging Game Workers Unite organization, something many folks in the games industry considered tantamount to unionization, which multiple activists and journalists have been calling for openly in recent years to combat industry abuses.

“Organizations like the ESA and the IGDA are not inherently bad, but they’re paltry concessions in an industry that needs more than fear of censorship,” Paste’s Dante Douglas argued this week. “The lack of worker support and labor organizations in the games development world, AAA and indie, points to a much deeper cultural problem, and one that needs more than AAA mouthpiece organizations and community networking hubs.”

The fact that IGDA in particular isn’t going to be much help here – in spite of an IGDA rep moderating the GWA panel at GDC – became abundantly clear in yesterday’s Kotaku interview, when the IGDA rep compared the inevitability of Christmas mail crunch to video game crunch and downplayed the need for unionization, suggesting that “access to capital” would allow indie devs to escape the AAA cycle.

Polygon’s overview of the GWU group this week notes that it was founded by two women and now has 200 members across the spectrum of development, aiming to take advantage of what the publication calls “a significant turning point for the industry undercurrent of pro-union sentiment.”

“We’re looking at ways to become a proper entity so we can interface with governments,” one of the founders, an indie dev herself, said about Game Workers Unite’s next steps. “We want to do this for the long haul. We’re not just a flash in the pan at GDC.”

Massively Overpowered is on the ground in San Francisco for GDC 2018, bringing you expert MMO coverage on everything (and everyone!) on display at the latest Game Developers Conference!
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