US presidential candidate and senator Bernie Sanders has just come out in support of the videogame union movement Game Workers Unite. Taking to Twitter, the presidential hopeful has said he’s glad to see the body organising members of the videogames industry, following a Time article that argues “videogame creators are burned out and desperate for change”.
Sanders’ tweet reads “the videogame industry made $43 billion in revenue last year. The workers responsible for that profit deserve to collectively bargain as part of a union. I’m glad to see unions like IATSE and the broader Game Workers movement organizing such workers”.
Game Workers Unite is a grassroots pro-union body that “seeks to connect pro-union activists, exploited workers, and allies” in the videogame industry, that has previously raised concerns about some studios’ business practices. Last year, it called out Telltale Games after the developer terminated the employment of over 250 workers without notice or severance, calling its executives’ management of the studio“incompetent” and “exploitative.”
As Time’s article highlights, a conversation about videogame workers’ treatment and rights – particularly on ‘crunch’ periods running up to, and sometimes after, a new game’s release – has been building for some time. Some studios, such as Path of Exile’s Grinding Gear Games, have now announced that they won’t participate in a ‘crunch’ culture, reflecting how normalised the practice seems to have become.
The video game industry made $43 billion in revenue last year. The workers responsible for that profit deserve to collectively bargain as part of a union. I'm glad to see unions like @IATSE and the broader @GameWorkers movement organizing such workers. https://t.co/Ia5gMG2v0w
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) June 18, 2019
Given the scale of the games industry and the prominence and frequency of controversies surrounding working conditions within it, it’s not surprising that politicians are taking an increasing interest in these issues.
A quick look at the comments following Sanders’ tweet suggests that his statement has gone down well with a lot of users. Whether it’ll ripple out further, or if we’ll see any other public figures follow suit, we’ll just have to wait and see.