About 10 major game studios shuttered within the last year, leaving hundreds of employees without jobs.
The latest is “The Walking Dead” developer Telltale Games, who laid off 250 people last month after two potential investors reportedly walked away from a deal. The workers didn’t receive severance from the company and lost their health insurance. The closure sparked a lot of conversation on social media about games industry working conditions, and now developers everywhere are airing their grievances and expressing their hopes for change on a Twitter hashtag called #AsAGamesWorker.
The hashtag apparently originated with Warner Bros. Montreal designer Osama Dorias, who said he wants to work in an industry that puts the well-being of game developers in the forefront.
Many developers expressed the desire to work in an industry free of harassment and mistreatment. “I want an industry where we don’t need an empty chair at GDC for all the women who leave each year,” tweeted a designer from Australia-based Gritfish Games.
“#AsAGamesWorker, I hope to work in an industry where one day, if the internet decides it’s my turn to fall for the sin of having the audacity to be a female game developer, the company I work for will support me instead of throwing me under the bus. I hope that for all of us,” said former Telltale Games narrative designer Emily Grace Buck.
Jill Murray, lead writer on Crystal Dynamics’ recent action game “Shadow of the Tomb Raider,” said she wants to see the industry tackle ageism.
#AsAGamesWorker, and one who is older than the industry average (I switched careers at 34 to be here), I want to see an industry that includes a way to age securely within games work. I’ve seen too many 29-year-old designers panicked about being ‘over the hill.'”
Meanwhile, others called for more sustainable business practices, responsible leadership, and diversity. Some just want job security and stability. Unionization is brought up occasionally too, and that’s something that’s seemingly gained traction on social media in recent months following massive layoffs at places like Telltale and Capcom Vancouver.
“#AsAGamesWorker I believe that we deserve unions and protection,” said OPX game design lead Jennifer Scheurle. “Safe workplaces from harassment and layoffs, an environment where it’s not normal to change jobs every 2-3 years as our only means of rising in ranks or getting paid better wages.”