Telltale’s unexpected closure has sparked numerous debates across social media, all centred around working conditions within the video game industry. The most recent #AsAGamesWorker hashtag collects criticism from professionals in hopes of putting “the well being of game developers in the forefront.”
Two weeks ago, 225 professional developers lost their job and with it their fundamental means to live. As of this week, all who haven’t managed to find another place of employment have lost health insurance that covered both themselves, and in some cases their families. This is a sad case that happens all too often in the video game industry, from Fable creator Lionhead Studios in 2016 to EA-owned Visceral Games in 2017, Capcom Vancouver just last month and many, many more studios both large and small.
#AsAGamesWorker, I want to work in an industry that puts the well being of game developers in the forefront.
– before shareholders
– before clients
– before management
– before public image
– before established practices
– before corporate culture
– before everything else
— Osama Dorias (@osamadorias) October 2, 2018
While Telltale specifically has seen overwhelming support from the video game industry in the form of its #TelltaleJobs hashtag, many of these voices get drowned out by the public focusing on the games potentially lost by a studio going defunct. This prompted Warner Bros. Montreal designer Osama Dorias to create a new hashtag in hopes of redefining work conditions across the board.
The Twitter campaign has allowed both former and current employees from ArenaNet, Blizzard, Ubisoft and many others to air their grievances with the industry, highlighting job security and exploitative overtime practices in particular. Developer crunch is a widespread practice that has become the centre of discussion across this year, as studios are prompted to further protect employees from mental and physical exhaustion.
It’s unclear how much of an impact #AsAGamesWorker will make on the industry, but with hundreds of participants attempting to get their voice heard, it will be difficult for studios to ignore.
KitGuru Says: The episodic nature of The Walking Dead: The Final Season does bring forth the discussion of where the remaining game is, as people have already paid for the product. While these developers respect that, the debate is that it should never take precedence over the lives of the developers behind video games.