In the entertainment industry, it can be argued that video games take the most amount of work which is reflected by those who do it. For years, there have been reports of the severe working conditions experienced by members in the video game industry across all departments. Workers are looking for change, as evidenced by a recent UNI Global Union survey, which shows 79 percent of video game workers support unionization. However, like with any company, unions struggle to establish themselves.
The Need For Video Game Unions
Gaming is one of the most profitable activities in the world. There are several major companies that rely on this income including Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo, along with a huge number of game studios handling everything from AAA titles to indie projects. Since games are always in high demand, worker schedules are packed with multiple projects that all need to be completed before a scheduled date. The issue is that these dates are planned for earlier than expected, which forces workers to work excessive numbers of hours just to meet the deadline.
UNI Global Union has decided to bring the truth behind this work by publishing a report about the ins and outs of the industry and conducting a survey among video game workers in 29 countries. One of the most telling revolves around workplace issues with data that was collected from participants in different companies and different countries. Over 66% claimed "Low Pay" as their top issue, followed closely by "Excessive Work" and "Inadequate Benefits" at 43%.
Breaking down the Low pay further, 94% of workers at localization firms cited low pay as and issue, and 100% of translators surveyed cited low pay as a serious issue. The number is high among those that test games as well, with 83% citing low pay as a problem.
As seen in reports on other companies, "Discrimination and/or Sexual Harassment" remains an ongoing issue at 35%. That number jumps to 46% among women surveyed in any game development job. When accounting for those working at AAA companies, 59% of the women surveyed stated gender discrimination is a problem in the workplace.
Obstacles Facing Video Game Unions
Unions are to help workers improve their working conditions which require support from their employers. Though employees in companies like Raven Software and Bioware are taking action, there are still those who are opposed to unionization. Big players like Nintendo and Activision Blizzard have been accused of anti-union actions even as their own employees fight for them.