in Games

“You Can Sleep Here All Night”

A well-written piece by Ian Williams about the sad state of labor practices in the video game industry, where forced “crunch” periods are destroying souls:

Here, as in few other places, we see the kind of exploitation normally associated with the industrial sector in creative work. Already subject to lower wages when compared to the broader tech sector, video game studios’ management maintain the status quo by consciously manipulating the desires of writers, artists, and coders hoping to break into a creative field. The profit vacuumed up goes to ever more bloated management salaries and the unremittingly glitzy, tacky spectacles churned out by gaming’s PR departments.

One conclusion at which he arrives is something I sincerely hope does not occur:

The exploitation in the video game industry provides a glimpse at how the rest of us may be working in years to come.

But part of his solution for the industry is what I have been assuming is necessary for some time now:

Real unionization, involving an alliance between middle-rung workers and those itching to take their jobs below, is not just desirable but necessary, not only for the workers enmeshed in twelve-hour days, but to save the industry from tottering over the edge into obsolescence.

The games industry may soon be at a point of reckoning, with working conditions at an unsustainable level and games that sell four to five million copies considered failures because of the skyrocketing costs of development that don’t seem to be finding their way into the bank accounts of the creative people who are making them.

The games industry desperately needs unionization.

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