Game developers at Raven Software unionize
January 22, 2022 7:58 PM   Subscribe

Following a weeks-long walkout, several dozen game developers at Raven Software have formed the Game Workers Alliance Union.

The Washington Post's coverage includes a number of interesting details.
posted by ®@ (11 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
from TechCrunch: "The ABK Workers Alliance used its sizable social media following to crowdfund over $370,000 to assist with wages during the strike."

from The Guardian: "A spokesman from Activision Blizzard said the company is “carefully reviewing the request for voluntary recognition”. The union is giving the company until 25 January to respond."

from WaPo:
"Activision Blizzard said in a statement that it is “carefully reviewing the request for voluntary recognition.” It added that it believes “a direct relationship between the company and its team members delivers the strongest workforce opportunities,” but that it would respect workers’ rights to join a union."
posted by ®@ at 8:03 PM on January 22, 2022 [2 favorites]

And who amongst us doesn't love some "strong workforce opportunities"??

Congrats to the folks at Raven and best luck to it proceeding smoothly.
posted by rhooke at 8:16 PM on January 22, 2022 [3 favorites]

Strong Workforce Opportunities is the Infant Gospel I most miss being in the Bible.
posted by riverlife at 8:26 PM on January 22, 2022 [2 favorites]

It added that it believes “a direct relationship between the company and its team members delivers the strongest workforce opportunities,”

And so it does, if by "strongest workforce opportunities" it meant "the strongest opportunities to keep the workforce over a barrel".
posted by flabdablet at 8:28 PM on January 22, 2022 [9 favorites]

Perhaps I've missed it, but I feel like all I've ever read about any of the big game/developer conglomerates are how overworked and/or poorly treated the employees are, often mixed in with abuse or harassment of various sorts. Either that or about the clearly disingenuous, corporate-speak apology of management and their promise to examine their culture blah-blah-blah, do better, blah-blah-blah. I know I've read some articles over the years about indie game developers/studios that seemed generally positive, but the big boys all just seem like nightmarish hellscapes.
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 9:04 PM on January 22, 2022 [2 favorites]

The problem is that, as part of our culture of harm valorization, we have the belief that art requires suffering, which in turn enables employers to be abusive. This response to a GDC survey encapsulates the attitude neatly.
posted by NoxAeternum at 9:24 PM on January 22, 2022 [4 favorites]

@BigHeartedGuy - Some are, some aren't. There are some nightmare indies, too: usually the story is that a few qtwentysomethings work on insane hours on a passion project, it makes money, and they assume that's the only way to make a successful game.

And if the company grows, bad development practices can become part of the corporate mythology, like "bioware magic."

On edit: also, what NoxAeternum said. If allnighters and crunch don't drive you out of the industry and your studio stays in business, those can become nostalgic "war stories."
posted by ®@ at 9:50 PM on January 22, 2022 [2 favorites]

This has been a long time coming, and I'm thrilled that Raven's QA department has started the ball rolling when it comes to securing decent conditions in major studios.

This probably wouldn't be possible without the fundraising efforts from A Better ABK, which in turn, I think is driven in part by journalists successfully making the connection between terrible work environments and mediocre, late games. (A connection not entirely justified - Fortnite is reportedly just as horrible to work on, and plenty of mediocre games come out of developers where people are treated decently, but there's been enough high-profile failures as a result of, ultimately, bad work environments that there's an emotional link.)

Gamers are infamously, and horrifyingly, vindictive; there is a universe where the reaction to the revelations about ABK's work environment was that it was karmic justice for the last unpopular change they made to one of the games they work on. Given how much terrible people have been able to manipulate gamers into supporting awful causes, it'd be nice if, for once, they were putting their dread weight behind something good.
posted by Merus at 4:00 AM on January 23, 2022

My grandmother who was a proud member of the Communications Workers of America (the umbrella organization for GWA) is smiling somewhere. All this 21st Century unionizing makes me very happy.
posted by octothorpe at 6:44 AM on January 23, 2022 [3 favorites]

Raven Software and ABK have decided to squash the union by pitting the studio against the QA staff.
posted by NoxAeternum at 11:21 AM on January 26, 2022

With any luck, the rest of their workforce already has decent working relationships with their QA devs, and breaking up the QA department and reassigning its members to other teams will just help spread pro-union sentiment throughout.

There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows, and in miseries:
On such a full sea are we now afloat;
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.
posted by flabdablet at 11:03 PM on January 26, 2022

« Older “There are as many forms of love as there are...   |   AI assisted drawing with hardware acceleration. Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments