Grassroots advocacy group Game Workers Unite posted a statement on Pricegate today, “emphatically denouncing” ArenaNet for firing Guild Wars 2’s Jessica Price and Peter Fries over last week’s Twitter/Reddit meltdown.
“Regardless of how one feels about Price’s actions and regardless of where one draws the line between rudeness and exasperation in Price’s tweets, the fact of the matter is that there is an entire spectrum of responses ArenaNet could have taken, but chose not to,” the statement said.
The group labeled Mike O’Brien as a “clearly inadequate” leader who “made the knee-jerk reaction” last week to fire the two developers.
“ArenaNet has signaled to the entire industry that our job security can be, and almost certainly will be, imperiled by the most vitriolic and volatile players,” the group wrote. “This event carries echoes of Gamergate, and will only embolden harassers further.”
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.
Back in 2016, we covered the voice actors guild strike against multiple game companies in its an attempt to secure better compensation and working conditions. The drawn-out saga renewed calls among game developers themselves to unionize. As we wrote about last fall, such a trade union would ideally protect developers from discrimination as well as game industry “crunch” and its concomitant 100-hour weeks and poor compensation – the kind that has literally caused game developers to drop dead (never mind makes them burn out or abandon the industry).
Apparently, such an organization is finally in the works. As Kotaku reports, Game Workers Unite is using this year’s GDC to raise awareness and collect accounts of labor exploitation.