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Devs are in favor of unionization, but most haven't discussed it (yet)

Developers tell us how they feel about unionization in the games industry.

Chris Kerr, News Editor

January 24, 2023

2 Min Read
The logo for the Game Workers branch of the IWGB trade union
Image via the Game Workers branch of the IWGB trade union

Developers across the industry are getting organized. In the space of a year, we've seen employees at major studios like Activision Blizzard and ZeniMax push for unionization in a bid to secure better working conditions, but how do others throughout the industry feel about the trend?

According to the 2023 GDC State of the Industry survey, the majority of developers support unionization, although it seems like that support isn't necessarily translating into practical action.

When asked for their thoughts on whether workers in the game industry should unionize, 53 percent of respondents answered with a resolute "yes." On the other side of the equation, only 13 percent felt workers shouldn't be unionizing.

Out those remaining, 10 percent said they didn't know whether staff should unionise, while 24 percent replied with "maybe."

What's particularly interesting, here, is that while the bulk of developers surveyed felt that workers should push for unionization, only 22 percent of respondents said they (or their colleagues) had actively discussed the topic at work.

It's a data point that suggests, despite largely backing the idea of unionization, only a small portion of devs are actually talking about the notion at their own place of work.

When asked to share their thoughts about the ongoing unionization efforts in the game industry, one developer said unions will help protect staff from "abuse, burnout, and bad faith policies of employers." Another conceded that while unions aren't a fix-all solution where those issues are concerned, they could help bolster workers rights and representation.

One respondent who is currently in a union said they would personally encourage others to take the same path, but admitted they personally stay quiet about their own position because "it may have negative effects on any future prospects I have."

To hear more insights from creators across the game industry, you can download the latest GDC State of the Industry survey for free by clicking here.

Game Developer and GDC are sibling companies under Informa Tech.

About the Author(s)

Chris Kerr

News Editor, GameDeveloper.com

Game Developer news editor Chris Kerr is an award-winning journalist and reporter with over a decade of experience in the game industry. His byline has appeared in notable print and digital publications including Edge, Stuff, Wireframe, International Business Times, and PocketGamer.biz. Throughout his career, Chris has covered major industry events including GDC, PAX Australia, Gamescom, Paris Games Week, and Develop Brighton. He has featured on the judging panel at The Develop Star Awards on multiple occasions and appeared on BBC Radio 5 Live to discuss breaking news.

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