Many video game developers in the United Kingdom have decided to form a union to counteract exploitative practices that are used by many studios, including crunch time, zero hour contracts for QA testers, and and a culture of homophobia and sexism. The new UK game developers union currently has 47,000 members.
The union is officially called the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain, and is the first of its kind in the United Kingdom, which has a number of different big game development studios located in it including Rockstar Lincoln, a Rockstar Games branch. The huge number of members it has is also apparently indicative of how much of a problem this is in the UK as well.
All across the world in a large number of game development studios, things like crunchtime and other exploitative practices are used. Crunch refers to devs working extremely long hours, not being allowed to go on breaks, eat, or sleep until they get done with the work in the days and weeks leading up to a release, which often has detrimental effects on the morale of the employees and the quality of their work.
Most recently this was revealed in the lead up to Red Dead Redemption 2’s release, where it was revealed some Rockstar employees were working 100 hour work weeks in preparation for the game’s release. While Rockstar said that it was only higher-ranking employees that did it, many believed that it was still bad of Rockstar to have them work that long per week.
Zero hour contracts are also a target for the new UK game developers union, where QA testers are hired for QA but have no guarantee of work, which can be a problem when QA testers are normally only paid for how much they work a week, which unfortunately includes hundreds of thousands of different QA testers.
Along with all of this, the new UK game developers union wants to tackle a culture of non-inclusion, sexism, and homophobia at many developers, all of which seems to include big developers like Rockstar Games and Riot Games, both of which have had these sorts of incidents come to life in the past.
The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain’s first meeting is this Sunday, and hopefully they’ll be able to get the country’s biggest developers to sit up and take notice that they can’t be exploited anymore.