Videogames are awesome (and also one word), but the industry making them has some undeniable problems. The newly-established Game Workers Unite UK, now an official branch of the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) hopes to make things a little better for folks in the business, reduce worker exploitation and improve diversity. We've all heard tales of soul-shattering crunch, unpaid overtime and people axed from jobs with little warning and even less severance pay, so as far as I'm concerned, this is a good, sure step in the right direction.
GWU-UK have outlined a few key issues they hope to tackle, including excessive overtime (crunch), especially when it's unpaid. At the very least, folks working a hundred hours in a week should be walking away with a fat sack of cash, and not therapist bills. Zero-hours contracts are also in their crosshairs, with a focus on their effect on QA testers, a hard-working but underappreciated lot. On a broader note, they hope to tackle diversity issues - while the audience for games broadens every year, they're still overwhelmingly produced by white men, which doesn't really sit right.
GAME WORKERS UNITE UK IS NOW A LEGAL TRADE UNION
We are proud to announce that we have become a branch of @IWGBunion - a small, dynamic and effective trade union.
Are you a worker and are worried you will be exploited by the games industry✊?✊?✊?
JOIN: https://t.co/ENyNOreC4F pic.twitter.com/1e00eSmxrZ
— Game Workers Unite UK (@GWU_UK) December 14, 2018
The UK is a bit late to the party on the unionisation front here. France's STJV was instrumental in supporting and raising funds for Eugen Systems developers when they went on strike. It sure would have been nice to have GWU-UK around when Rockstar were working their crew to the bone to finish the massive Red Dead Redemption 2 in time for the holiday rush. While there are a lot of studios spread across Europe, the UK has the highest concentration of games developers. Hopefully this is the beginning of them getting a better deal - fingers crossed.
Also, for those with fundamental opposition to the concept of unionised workers, I'll let SB Nation's Jon Bois field this one. I think you'll find he makes a strong argument.