Days after Activision Blizzard announced nearly 800 redundancies while boasting record revenues, The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) has penned an open letter to video game developers, urging them to unionize.
The letter from secretary-treasurer Liz Shuler was published on Kotaku, in which the organization noted that the U.S. video games industry earned $43 billion in 2018 alone, thanks in huge part to game developers who are often victims of crunch, layoffs, and poor working conditions.
While you’re fighting through exhaustion and putting your soul into a game, Bobby Kotick and Andrew Wilson are toasting to “their” success.
They get rich. They get notoriety. They get to be crowned visionaries and regarded as pioneers.
What do you get?
Outrageous hours and inadequate paychecks. Stressful, toxic work conditions that push you to your physical and mental limits. The fear that asking for better means risking your dream job.
We’ve heard the painful stories of those willing to come forward, including one developer who visited the emergency room three times before taking off from work. Developers at Rockstar Games recently shared stories of crunch time that lasted for months and even years in order to satisfy outrageous demands from management, delivering a game that banked their bosses $725 million in its first three days.
Shuler reminded developers that the change they seek won’t come from CEOs or business leaders. She’s of the view that the only way to make their voices heard is for them to join a union together.
A recent GDC report revealed that nearly half of 4,000 game developers surveyed are in favor of unionization. Considering the recurring nature of the aforementioned issues, here’s hoping that this percentage continues to increase.