Game Developers Are Unionizing While IGDA Concerns Grow

game workers unite
(Photo: Game Workers Unite)

Tensions were high at the Game Developers Conference this year. During the event going on now in San Francisco, there was a roundtable event held to discuss establishing unions within the gaming industry. The topic quickly became heated and though it raised a few questions, it did answer one big one: something needs to change.

The discussion was moderated by the International Game Developers Association President Jen MacLean and included over one hundred developers. This organized event offered many working professionals within the industry the platform to let their voices be heard regarding many of the reported working conditions that developers are meant with.

MacLean herself has stated multiple times in very public forums that she is against unionization in the gaming industry. According to MacLean, she believes that the current "status quo" for developers was not disadvantageous, which predictably did not sit well with the developers in the room that clearly think otherwise. When she spoke with USGamer prior to this event, she had less than flattering things to say about developer concerns, which prompted the creation of the Game Workers Unite movement to urge developers to look towards a unionization of sorts.

The roundtable discussion kicked off with a disclaimer from MacLean herself with her intention to 'mostly' be left out of the discussion due to her disinclination towards the idea. Once the ideas started flowing however, she quickly backtracked on her original promise and things escalated very quickly. Unfortunately for the moderator, she was vastly outnumbered during the discussions, with a vast majority of the room being very much for the idea of unionization for developers. Though it never reached a volatile point, it became incredibly clear that a unionization

The air in the room did get a little ... awkward when MacLean asked the room if unionization would "fail" to help developer issues or even make them worse. We're sure she meant to spark a discussion but instead, she was met with silence. Her arguments failed to connect with the developers in the room and the entire discussion became stilted and unproductive. Eventually the topic moved on, but not without leaving behind a few nuggets of thought.

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What do you think? Do you think developers should unionize to protect themselves? Protect themselves from unrealistic publisher standards, or any of the other many examples laid out through recent months? Sound off with your thoughts in the comment section below!

For more on the perspective on why this is an interesting discussion, we definitely recommend checking out our pals over at Polygon with their take as well as the Game Workers Unite website here.