One of the more interesting developments to come out of Game Developers Conference 2019 (GDC) was a March 19 panel on the state of worker’s cooperatives and unionization in the games industry. The games industry, as a whole, is particularly notorious for having rather lax views on the state of workers’ rights. This topic has shown up in “The Preface” articles previously, but the history of games development is littered with 100-hour work weeks, layoffs in the wake of record-breaking company success, and not-infrequent occasions of workers going uncredited on the games they helped to develop when the development cycle ran too long (most notably, in the infamous case of 2011’s “L.A. Noire”). Many studios in the industry have attempted to make moves to address these issues, primarily at the mid-size and indie-level developers, but the most recent attempt has been the rise of workers cooperative game studios.
Workers Cooperatives and the practice of unionization as a whole is far from the sole invention of the games industry. Labor unions are a long-established part of the modern economy, bringing with them their own set of solutions and problems. However, it is relatively new to the games industry.
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