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Thursday, September 16, 2021

Opinion

Video game workers deserve better treatment


Video game workers deserve better treatment

Juana Garcia/ The Cougar

Due to the immense exploitation of workers in the video games industry, it’s time for video game workers to form a union. 

Activision Blizzard, a company known for making games like Call of Duty and World of Warcraft is being sued by the state of California for sexual harassment and discrimination. Women who work there were routinely sexually harassed and discriminated against in job promotions.

Stories include a woman being told she wasn’t getting a promotion because her boss thought that she may get pregnant as well as an instance where a woman’s nude photos were shared around by her male coworkers. 

A gaming giant like this company being sued is huge for the industry and may signal change to come.

Recently, hundreds of workers for Activision Blizzard went on strike because of the company’s insensitive response to the lawsuit. Workers from the company Ubisoft signed a letter in solidarity with Activision Blizzard employees, revealing they had similar issues at their company. The video games industry as a whole has a lot of issues that go beyond gender discrimination. 

The video game industry famously normalizes long work hours and work weeks. Often programmers may work 12 hour days six days a week. It’s a job that doesn’t lend a lot of free time, leading to high turnover rates.

Often the overtime workers put in, whether they’re game testers or developers, goes unpaid

The thing is, working overtime doesn’t have to be the way the industry works. Management just doesn’t plan a way to finish in a timely manner before a game’s deadline. If these companies can get their workers to keep working, rather than finding more workers or organizing a schedule differently, they can still get a game done in time. Employees should be prioritized over profit and product.

The reality is that if you want to get into the video games industry, you’re going to have to deal with an industry that sweeps a lot of misconduct and mismanagement under the rug. This shouldn’t be the case. Video game workers should be able to have more free time and have more of a say in how they are managed and treated.

Video game workers need to unionize. Thankfully, there has been intense support for unionization by Jeff Strain, former Blizzard programmer and founder of multiple game studios. There is a video game worker union Game Workers Unite that has over 1000 members worldwide. Game workers deserve better treatment from their industry.

Anna Baker is an English senior who can be reached at [email protected]

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