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IGDA looks to support unionizing devs in years ahead

Dr. Jakin Vela breaks down his goals for the IGDA after stepping into the role of executive director.

Earlier this week the International Game Developers Association announced its new executive director: Dr. Jakin Vela, who had served as interim executive director after the departure of Renee Gittins earlier this year.

Vela is assuming leadership of the IGDA in a time of great change for the game development community. Not only are developers changing companies at a rapid pace (leaving employers scrambling for talent), but developers have begun to actively organize at the workplace, pushing to unionize in both the United States and Canada.

Speaking to Game Developer, Vela said that the IGDA is interested in supporting developers who want to unionize, saying that responses to its annual developer satisfaction survey indicated that members are strongly in favor of unionization. "I see the IGDA's position as ensuring that we're listening to our community members...and that we're providing, cultivating, creating and disseminating useful resources, knowledge, and information, to ensure that developers...have access to the resources they need," he explained."

He said that for now, the IGDA's approach will be to help developers make decisions "as individuals," because they have a greater sense of their workspaces and their needs.

This change in leadership for the IGDA also comes after the organization itself suffered months of turmoil following accusations of abuse that were levied at former Women in Games Special Interest Group chair Jennifer Scheurle. In the wake of Scheurle's departure, the organization apologized for improperly handling complaints against her, and promised to revamp its investigation procedures.

Vela explained to us that he himself has been part of an effort to revamp its policies around internal investigations, and that a new ethics committee has been developed in order to better handle ethics complaints. 

"I'm confident that this will build trust for any anyone who lost trust in that. Moving forward, we will rely on those policies and processes by the book."

Along with appointing Vela as executive director, the IGDA also welcomed three new board members: Rami Ismail, Guy Blomberg, and Tarja Porkka-Kontturi. Vela praised each of his new colleagues for their skills and specialties, noting that each will bring different skillsets to help shape the IGDA's direction in the next few years.

For specifics, Vela said that Ismail will continue his efforts with local advocacy groups in indie developer communities across the globe. Blomberg will be helping the organization secure strategic partnerships to better expand its event presence. And last but not least, Porkka-Kontturi will be working to support internal community growth and "connectedness across the globe."

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