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January 13, 2010

IGDA and Rockstar Wives

Filed under: Thoughts and Rants — Tom B @ 2:05 pm

Quality of Life in the game industry suffered another black eye with the posting of an open letter by a group who identified themselves as Rockstar’s Wives on Gamasutra. It looks like the wholesale exploitation of impassioned developers in our industry is alive and well and living in beautiful San Diego. This is sad, so sad. With all the research and anecdotal data supporting the fact that overwork is actually counterproductive, the burn out factor that deprives our creative industry if talent (its most valuable asset) and just the simple immorality of the whole exploitation of artists and workers by managment…all I can say is shame on you Rockstar for being stupidly greedy and, apparently, completely unenlightened about state of the art employment practices (see, e.g., Google.).

The IGDA has a long standing position on Quality of Life issues and even has a QOL Special Interest Group that does things like white papers and surveys on work place issues. The IGDA also has a long standing position against the exploitation of workers by management in our industry through excessive overtime and other workplace abuses. But the IGDA is also run by a 12 person Board of Directors that has been characterized at times in the past as being out of touch and slow to respond to issues in the industry.

So, why hasn’t the IGDA made a public statement. As a volunteer organization with a large Board, it takes a little time. Quite simply, the logistics of getting the statement drafted by members of the Board and the QOL SIG, and then securing unanimous consent from all 12 Board members took a few days. But if you are wondering where is the IGDA public response on this issue, it was posted today.

Personally, I am sorry to see these reprehensible employment practices persisting in our industry. But I am glad that they are back in front of the industry at large as these issues need attention. The burden of the current economic slow down should not be put onto the backs of employee developers. Moreover, these sort of exploitative work place practices seldom if ever go disappear once instituted without some external stimulus, like the harsh light of negative public opinion. Of course, it is also up to developers to stand up and object when abusive workplace issues arise. As an industry, I firmly believe that we are better than this!

It will be interesting to see just how Rockstar responds, both in public and in practice, and if they come to their senses and start feeding, instead of consuming, their talent.

Tom B

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