September's slew of layoffs and company closures has sparked large conversations about the future of labor in the games industry. While some have used this month to call for unions, the conversation about laboring on large games for large companies has expanded to take many different shapes.
Today on Twitter, game developers at companies like DICE, Ubisoft, and WB Games Montreal began sharing hopes for game development's future via the hashtag #AsAGamesWorker.
Apparently kicked off by senior game developer Steven Lumpkin, #AsAGamesWorker contributors are specifically discussing shortcomings they see in the industry as it stands, and ways they hope it can improve in the future.
#AsAGamesWorker, I want to work in an industry that puts the well being of game developers in the forefront.— Osama Dorias (@osamadorias) October 2, 2018
- before shareholders
- before clients
- before management
- before public image
- before established practices
- before corporate culture
- before everything else
Workers and business leaders should know that there are some clear, unifying themes from these talented folks. Many, including ex-employees of Ubisoft and 343 Industries, have called for support for game developers as they get older and start families, preventing burnout after 5 years.
Other veterans from Telltale, Heroic Leap, and beyond have discussed the imbalanced relationship between players and company employees, and the fact that employees are seemingly expected to be on-call customer service agents, even in their off hours.
The recent revelations about sexual harassment at Riot Games have been discussed too, as several participants have called for more safety for themselves and their coworkers against sexual harassment and other kinds of abuse. Some have also pointed out that employers in this business will label themselves a "meritocracy" without accounting for bias in hiring and promoting.
In a year of exceptional turbulence for the video game business, #AsAGamesWorker is a reminder that the voices of people who produce labor in games---not just lead their effort---are working to make sure they are heard.
Update: An earlier version of this article credited the wrong developer with starting #AsAGamesworker. We have updated the story and apologize for the mistake.