Unionization has quickly become a heated topic in the video game industry. While it’s always been a persistent issue among those both inside and outside the industry, discussion on it has certainly ramped up in the past year. Now, Democratic presidential nominee Bernie Sanders has officially advocated his support for unionization, becoming the first presidential nominee to comment publicly on the issue.
The video game industry made $43 billion in revenue last year. The workers responsible for that profit deserve to collectively bargain as part of a union. I’m glad to see unions like @IATSE and the broader @GameWorkers movement organizing such workers. https://t.co/Ia5gMG2v0w
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) June 18, 2019
While video game development has always been painted as difficult, recent months have seen more and more horror stories creep out. Layoffs have seemingly become increasingly common in the industry, perhaps most infamously from the Telltale closure and Activision-Blizzard’s mass layoffs earlier in 2019.
Besides layoffs, the topic of crunch has seen a spotlight shown on it in recent months. Prior to the release of Red Dead Redemption 2, Rockstar was under fire for claiming its staff worked “100-hour work weeks.” A similar sentiment recently surface about Epic Games, mostly attributed to the weekly updates found in Fortnite. And that’s only some of the horror stories that have been raised recently, with studios like BioWare and NetherRealm getting called out.
While unionization obviously won’t completely get rid of these issues, it does give the workers within the industry more security and leverage in these situations. Of course, the road to achieve it will likely be a long and difficult one, as well. With Sanders publicly affirming his support for developer unionization, we could see more presidential candidates speaking up on the issue. And if the spotlight continues, we could see actual change happen in the future.