Tuesday, April 11, 2006

How to Organize the Video Game Industry

Damned if I know. But some of us who work for the IATSE gathered for lunch with a video game veteran to kick around ideas... If you don't have children or have been sleeping through big chunks of the last few years, you might have missed that video games (X-box, Sony Play Station, computers, i-pods, cell phones...) have become a monster big business. Way bigger than the movie industry. And unlike the movie industry, pretty much non-union. Which explains the lesser benefits at many video game studios, as well as the uncompensated over-time hours. I and my union brethren picked the brains of the vid game person, learning about staffing and job categories. The game vet is pretty sure that portable health and pension benefits would be an attractive benefit for most artists and tech heads working at Electronic Arts and other game places in and around Los Angeles. The problem is, the honchos at the top of the game studio hierarchy aren't much interested in better working conditions and benefits that travel with employees from game studio to game studio. Costs money, you know. Plus, the added problem for unions like the IA is that organized labor swims against a culture that is ignorant of and often hostile to, unions. Even Hollywood unions. Nevertheless, The Animation Guild and other labor organizations in the IATSE are working on it. Slooowly.


Unknown said...

If you appeal to the idea of adding structure to the practices of credits and pay and title/credit for the work actually done, you should have less of a problem organizing in a place like EA. I know a few people in the industry who were obsolete because they were too old and had families, or they were game people being pushed out by "hollywood people". In my last few years at EA at Walnut Creek, there was a mean spiritedness that developed in the game industry. EA needs to be organized, Vivendi Universal too maybe...But most developers for places like Activision actually are acting now like the games industry used to, which makes it less neccessary to protect people with organizing.

Seriously, presenting a simplified unified vision that might add consistency to the lives of the current batch at EALA might get you half way there.

Steve Hulett said...

Thanks for the advice, Mr. Viking. The IA is going to push at this, and see what results they can get.

We know it won't be easy.

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