For many of us stuck at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, video games have been one of the few forms of escapist entertainment that we have. Game Workers Unite, a gaming industry activist group, released a statement on Twitter on March 22nd emphasizing how the people who make those games are being hit hard by COVID-19. Game Workers Unite has been a major factor in calls to unionize the games industry and prevent game developers from being exploited.
What’s in the Statement?
Game Workers Unite’s statement briefly discusses how little job security there is in some sectors of the gaming industry and praises everyone who is continuing to work through this rocky economic period. It also reiterates the continuous industry problems of forced unpaid leave and layoffs, in addition to encouraging people to call out companies who use these practices. This statement comes at a time where gamers are more aware of toxic industry practices.
A week or so ago Jason Schreier of Kotaku detailed the excessive “crunch” at Naughty Dog while working on upcoming title, The Last of Us 2. Schreier’s article sparked a large discussion about working conditions in game development and outcry for change to be made.
The statement also calls for workers to have flexible working hours, universal health services, sick pay, and a more sustainable way of making games. The larger point of emphasis in their statement is job security. There are many stories about game developers being laid off once a project is complete, or working hours that are unsustainable for a normal human being. It seems that the coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated the need for serious industry reform. The statement goes on to say, “after this crisis, nothing will be the same” before listing possible reforms for the industry.
Lastly, the statement implores people to link to foundations that are helping workers who are affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. Hopefully, for GWU and game industry workers everywhere, situations like these could lead to much-needed reform in the game development sector.