Honestly the thing that makes me saddest about the AAA Video Game Clusterfuck du Jour is knowing that there are probably a ton of people who spend shitloads of crunch time lovingly working on the one tiny part of the game they had control over only for it to be hopelessly fucked up at the executive level

(also all those people will probably get fired, but there’s at least a 75% chance they’d be fired even if it was a huge success)

if this is sad then man do I have some bad news for you about the number of government employees, and the likely outcomes for the projects they’re assigned to

true that, though honestly if AAA game employees were unionized at the same rate as government employees and the private sector was subject to the same kind of labour laws as the public sector, the game thing would be less sad

There will not be a “AAA Game Developer’s Union” for the exact same reason there won’t be a “Rock Star Union.”

Is “rock star” in this case referring to the profession or the game company? Because if it’s the former, I mean, like… Pretty much every movie star is unionized.

Every movie star is a member of the Screen Actor’s Guild, which is not a union. You can tell in two ways: (1) The name says “guild,” not “union.” (2) It functions as a guild, not a union.

(Also I meant rock-star-the-profession. And it’s sufficiently different from acting that similar concerns don’t apply – and there won’t be a Rock Star Guild either)

The position of devs in the game industry is surely closer to that of lightning technicians, stage hands etc all of whom are famously unionised. As are musicians (”rock star” isn’t a profession).

And actors in the UK and Canada are represented by a trade union.

The fact that they’re both capable of turning people into celebrities does not actually mean actors and musicians are any kind of similar when it comes to the economic factors that would lead to unionization. I used musicians, not actors, deliberately.

And are you seriously telling me you think Guns N’ Roses, Beyonce and (*spins wheel*) @ms-demeanor are in a musicians union?

EDIT: Actually you know what, I shouldn’t concede on the Musician/Rock Star/Game Dev equivalence. I didn’t say rock star was a profession. I said there won’t be a AAA Game Developer’s Union for the same reason there won’t be a Rock Star’s Union.

Really think you’re being kind of obscure here. Maybe it would help if you said why there isn’t a rockstar union and why the same factors apply to AAA gamedevs? I get the impression ‘star’ and ‘AAA’ are doing the work, but it’s entirely unclear why a guitar-strummer’s union and plain old gamedevs union wouldn’t do the job

There isn’t a [[]] union because if you’re a wannabe [[]] and you tell your studio “but I’m in the union so I also have these demands,” they find somebody else to fill the slot in their [[]] because there’s a lot of idiots who want to be [[]] and will work under terrible conditions to live that dream. Once you are a very famous [[]], things improve a lot, but now you no longer need the union anyway – and if you think this is a shit deal, you just make an indie thing in your garage anyway.

Fill in [[Rock Star/AAA Game Dev]] as needed depending on whether you want to know why there isn’t a AAA Game Dev union or a Rock Star union.

But if you don’t want to compete with a million people for the five spots available to become a famous [[]] and just want to work as a {{}}, it makes perfect sense to have a union for {{}}, who works 9-5 and gets overtime, who can get away with unionizing and making demands because they can’t be replaced in a minute, there aren’t five thousand people standing ready who’d love to have your problems in return for a shot at becoming a [[]].

Fill in {{Musician/Programmer}} as needed.

Makes sense, but it seems that the step where a famous rockstar doesn’t need the union anyway doesn’t really apply to game devs. Someone with household recognition can write their own ticket, in effect they are their own union because they have a monopoly on their face. But someone with a third-page credit for goblin attack animations is not in that position. So it seems like the existing devs of a big company would still have some incentive to organise. True, they have a big coordination problem, but there is a long history of unions forming in such circumstances. Any individual is replaceable, but I think a game studio is going to have some trouble replacing all three hundred goblin attack animators in time to get the game out for Christmas.

From a completely ridiculous point of view – that is, mine, it’s a bit like this:

When I hear e.g. a pipe fitter complain about bad conditions at their factory, I wonder – why don’t you guys unionize?

When I hear a AAA game dev complain about bad conditions at their studio, I wonder – why don’t you get a real job?

Which I know is a ridiculous opinion, but it’s grappling at some nebulously shaped beast that I’m convinced would be a real opinion if I could phrase it right. It’s not “Game dev is a labor of love,” because that’s what assholes say when they want you to work for exposure, but it’s something very much like “Game dev is a labor of love.” You[1] can take your programming skills and move into financial, technical or industrial programming and get an immediate raise and better working conditions, so I hope game dev is a labor of love, because altenatively it’s a labor of idiocy.

[1] For sufficiently generic values of “you,” obviously there are some individuals that have other issues.

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