Game workers unite! : are you for or against unions?

Riot Games lMNu47
Jun 27 237 Comments

What are your thoughts on unions in gaming? There’s been more talk recently at riot regarding all the stuff going on at our company.

There’s been more and more gaming company issues around sexual harassment or workplace abuse — what do you think? Will it happen? Are unions good or bad?

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TOP 237 Comments
  • Google Yottobyte
    I think unions are excellent ways to take the competitive edge away from bleeding edge companies. I hope all my competitors unionize.
    Jun 27 38
    • Kaspersky Lab / HR aye dais
      Not to mention that Intel is maybe among 5% companies in the country having sophisticated transgender and LGBTQ policies. People are getting fired left and right for being gays or for pure favoritism reasons.
      Jun 29
    • Intel ghakapi
      I can’t tell if you are proving my point for me or looking like an idiot accidentally. People outside CA making $70K are paying $50K less in taxes, living in larger sq footage home on larger acreage, have less crime, and generally have more freedom than in the fascist Bay Area where 92% of people think alike.

      Little lesson for you Bay Area folks living in a bubble- nobody gives a fuck about your lifestyle or skin color in the middle of the country as long as you do your job well.
      Jun 29
    • Kaspersky Lab / HR aye dais
      What point am I proving? That poor sweet Californian engineers are as abused and harassed as cashiers and factory workers?
      Oooh, of course, go make yourself a little union, and go on strike and stop coding to achieve gender equality in Intel. Cause the rest of the country will be so compassionate to you.
      Jun 30
    • Intel ghakapi
      Again, you clearly have never been to the middle of the country, where there’s a lot more entrepreneurial spirit in creating your own business vs the hordes of SWE that mindlessly code every day.
      Jun 30
    • Kaspersky Lab / HR aye dais
      How is that connected to labor unions?
      Jun 30
  • Databricks / Data
    data4u

    Databricks Data

    PRE
    500 Startups
    data4umore
    Unions are for low skilled work, if I’m not happy at my current place and I have marketable skill set I’ll go somewhere else.

    But I suck at leetcode that’s another problem...
    Jun 27 11
    • New / Eng JVev04
      “If unions are so great then why are things so bad for people who aren’t part of a union? Checkmate, libs!”
      Jun 27
    • Seagate toti420
      Unions are not always good and they are not always bad. I think unions make a lot of sense for teachers, nurses, police officers just to name a few, but not for engineers. Without unions, hospitals would assign more than 8 patients per nurse which is horrible for both nurses and patients. World is not black and white.
      Jun 27
    • Intel ghakapi
      Public sector unions are the biggest problem America faces today. It’s going to bankrupt a host of states. The quid pro quo for their donations mean private sector workers will lose.

      Private sector unions are dumb in vast majority of cases, but at least with recent SCOTUS rulings there is volition in membership.
      Jun 28
    • New / Eng JVev04
      Yeah, the thing that’s been on a steady decline for 40 years is definitely causing the crises that have increased over the past 40 years. Very good analysis, ghakapi, glad to see Intel is still hiring the best and brightest.
      Jun 28
    • Intel ghakapi
      You clearly haven’t studied the public sector union trend and have it confused with private sector union membership rates. Public sector union membership has increased by 25% over the last 40 years.

      https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/02/20/for-american-unions-membership-trails-far-behind-public-support/
      Jun 28
  • Riot Games zPEd38
    I don't see any upside to a union. We have a hard enough time getting rid of under performers as is
    Jun 27 6
    • Facebook
      Poooo

      Facebook

      BIO
      _
      Poooomore
      Come to FB, we're hiring. DM me and send me your resume.
      Jun 27
    • Twitter wtMV57
      Twitter too
      Jun 27
    • Microsoft ghjyf
      I was referring to AAA studio I worked at prior to MS ... but yea, you guys def pay more than MS.
      Jun 27
    • Uber / Eng po0
      Come to Uber, DM me
      Jun 27
    • LinkedIn faghast
      Gaming pays less than FAANG because of the "I want to work in gaming" premium. Same reason you can often make more programming at a hedge fund. You get paid less for jobs everyone wants to do.
      Jun 27
  • Riot Games V67jK
    Against, and really wish the push for these would just go away already. The approach (pushing “us vs them” and painting leadership as villains narrative) is really toxic, disruptive and needs to stop.
    Jun 27 4
    • Microsoft ghjyf
      If pay and benefits were as good as the rest of tech, there would be no push.
      Jun 27
    • Amazon / Eng eztP64
      If leadership stopped acting as villains then perhaps the narrative would change. When it comes down to it though, any employee is just a cog in the machine. They'll buy a new cog and slot it in without thinking about it for a second.
      Jun 27
    • Riot Games .l
      They're not acting like villains though
      Jun 27
    • LinkedIn / Eng CarpetCog
      Perhaps if the developers concerned stopped accepting "villainous" leadership as somehow a more acceptable cost of working at a game-dev company than at other tech companies... just a thought...
      Jun 27
  • Facebook Omzh16
    Absolutely they should unionize. Games (and tech like FB, Google, etc) is built off the backs of contingent workers who are intentionally kept from having benefits and adequate pay. If every single one of them quit right this second, the industry would grind to a halt. This industry doesn’t exist without them, and that the workers are starting to realize that rules and I wish them nothing but the best. They deserve better, and everyone deserves a union (or any group) who has their interests in mind instead of some higher up that has no interest in them.
    Jun 27 22
    • Ellucian / Consultant not.a.bot
      I'm sorry to say this but the position you keep touting as the backbone and driving force for revenue at FB is in fact the most replaceable component. The amount of time, money and resources that are put into place to develop the platform itself is what drives the revenue and the ability to even provide a job for you to do. The investment of others, the technical skillset of others, the vision of others, is what drives FB revenue, NOT the forum moderators. You are not as important as you think you are. I conclude this rant by echoing the sentiment, FU Facebook.
      Jun 27
    • GM Financial / IT Nataku
      You're missing the point. Zuckerberg holds orders of magnitude more importance than any one of those people you insist are underpaid and supposedly crucial. How replaceable is Zuckerberg? A hell of a lot less replaceable than the people you've cited.

      As I said, the whole fucking contingent of contingent workers (see what I did there?) could walk out and I guaran-damn-tee you revenue doesn't grind to a halt the way you described.

      Zuckerberg's exodus would cause massive ripples, however. He also built the fucking place. He took on all the risk and responsibility. Without him, Facebook doesn't exist--he's a wealth generator. Wealth inequality sucks, but without the prospect of grand success, entrepreneurs are far less willing to take accept the terrific risk which is almost always involved in such ventures.

      It's hysterical to compare an entire functional area to any one resource, but I'm interested in hearing additional insight from the community re: this hypothetical.
      Jun 27
    • Microsoft specimen 🌮
      Let’s just give up on all this and get drunk and/or high.
      Jun 27
    • Uber / Eng hotboi
      This Facebook guy is delusional
      Jun 28
    • Uber / Eng hotboi
      Actually it’s brazenly obvious he/she is a contractor
      Jun 28
  • Riot Games zzzzzzz10
    The industry changes very fast and unions often make companies less able to react. No thanks.

    The states that have game companies also have among the strongest sexual harassment laws and penalties in the world, and sexual harassment is bad for business and team morale. No one wants sexual harassment, why would this be a worker vs management issue?

    Not sure why unions are needed to address that. There’s so much energy and effort on eliminating it. Everyone wants to.
    Jun 27 5
    • New / Eng JVev04
      > No one wants sexual harassment, why would this be a worker vs management issue?

      It’s a power hierarchy. Corporations are a top down petty dictatorship, where ultimately the corporate board get to call the shots. A worker is essentially unable to harass a manager because the manager has the power (vested in them from above) to fire them. A manager on the other hand can often use that power to get away with sexual harassment. That dynamic only flows one way, how could this be anything BUT a workers vs management issue?
      Jun 27
    • Riot Games zzzzzzz10
      Interesting viewpoint. That’s usually not how companies work. Boards usually have little or no power, other than to hire and fire the CEO.

      As for employees, they have no power over their boss, but they can sue and wreck reputations, even if they are in the wrong. The power dynamics are not very unequal.
      Jun 27
    • New / Eng JVev04
      Sure, boards rarely have to exercise their power, but that’s because CEOs are shareholders and share their interests. That’s still the ultimate, push comes to shove legal power though. A manager can fire a worker only because the board has invested authority in the CEO who has then delegated it. The amount of damages that workers can typically expect to win in lawsuits is piddling, check out stats with the EEOC, the employer wins overwhelmingly and usually damages are basically “lost wages and get your job back.” The power imbalance is immense.
      Jun 28
    • Riot Games zzzzzzz10
      Piddling? California harassment and retaliation liability is large and companies must take it seriously.
      Jun 28
    • New / Eng JVev04
      A few hundred million in payouts across the entire damn economy is like, nothing, mate! Look at the 25th highest payout, it’s only $1.2 million. Looks like there are merely double digit million dollar payouts each year.

      Look at some of these statistics: http://www.ncsl.org/research/labor-and-employment/addressing-sexual-harassment-in-the-workplace.aspx

      40 percent of women in fast food industry have experienced unwanted sexual advances. That’s millions of workers, yet only 7000 complaints are filed each year. That means the overwhelming majority of class are not reported at all. This indicates that despite ideologically (and financially) motivated rhetoric that highlights a handful of outliers, suing your employer for sexual harassment is simply not a viable option for most people most of the time.
      Jun 28
  • Oracle EUwH05
    Take your power and give it to others who you hope will act with your best interests in mind. Real smart.
    Jun 27 8
    • IBM / Eng WYmS28
      First off no teacher is "forced" into a union they join voluntarily. In fact that would be illegal to make union membership a condition of employment.

      Secondly teachers just like any other union member maintains their voting power for the actions of the union. Don't like who is on the board? Vote them out.

      Thirdly: there's plenty of unions that do work well for the workers. Longshoremen do great because of unions, for example. Bus drivers, electricians, et cetera.
      Jun 27
    • Riot Games jadukn
      The NLRA allows employers and unions to enter into union-security agreements, which require all employees in a bargaining unit to become union members and begin paying union dues and fees within 30 days of being hired.

      An employee may object to union membership on religious grounds, but in that case, must pay an amount equal to dues to a nonreligious charitable organization

      https://www.nlrb.gov/rights-we-protect/rights/employer-union-rights-and-obligations
      Jun 27
    • IBM / Eng WYmS28
      Yeah except in 27 states those agreements are illegal
      Jun 27
    • Riot Games jadukn
      "No teacher is forced..." I guess some are forced after all yea? NLRB is a federal agency. So it is a legitimate concern, don't you think?
      Jun 27
    • LinkedIn faghast
      If you think a giant, abstract, distant bureaucracy that supposedly "represents" you because the guy you didn't vote for got elected to the board and then bribed to leave things broken is looking out for your best interest, then you're not smart enough to work in tech.

      Companies need their employees to be happy or else their competitors steal them, or worse, innovate faster and put them out of business. Unions don't need shit from their members, because they're entrenched there by law, just like the government. You have way more power without a union than with one.
      Jun 27
  • Google s8G1mY
    Honestly gaming is closer to entertainment than tech in terms of labor dynamics.

    Follow Hollywood's example and unionize.
    Jun 27 7
    • Microsoft conscience
      For the majority of those in professional game dev, that is not how it works
      Jun 27
    • Microsoft ghjyf
      Whenever a project ships, 1/2 the employees move on.
      Jun 27
    • Databricks / Data
      data4u

      Databricks Data

      PRE
      500 Startups
      data4umore
      This happens less now with Games as a Service now, QA/Artist/Etc just continue working on new content for the game
      Jun 27
    • Riot Games .l
      Terrible idea
      Jun 27
    • Hollywood has a good model for freelance. The difference between SAG work and non-SAG work is like night and day.
      Jun 28
  • New / IT netts
    Don't bring this into the tech industry please. I just want to work at my best and make the most money while doing so without worrying about everyone else.
    Jun 27 5
    • New / Mgmt
      FatNixon

      New Mgmt

      BIO
      Lt. Aldo Raine: You know something Uitivich? I think this just might be my masterpiece.
      FatNixonmore
      I love this dude!
      Peeps without political consciousness is what makes merikkka great!
      Jun 27
    • New / Design
      fk specism

      New Design

      PRE
      General Assembly
      fk specismmore
      This is a great example of the "I got mine, fuck you" mentality of the libertarians.
      Jun 27
    • LinkedIn faghast
      You clearly don't know any libertarians. They care a lot more about others than Democrats.
      Jun 27
    • New / Mgmt
      FatNixon

      New Mgmt

      BIO
      Lt. Aldo Raine: You know something Uitivich? I think this just might be my masterpiece.
      FatNixonmore
      Libertarians can t even agree to what libertArian is. Me myself and I we know what this is! It is the book lady in the book building. She lends books - ughh! - and calls your mom if you don’t bring the book - ughhh - back
      Jun 27
    • LinkedIn faghast
      Uh, did you watch the Democratic Party primary debates this week? There are dozens of people on stage who can't agree what being a Democrat is.

      Democrats were the party of the slave-owning South. Lincoln was a Republican.

      You tell me who doesn't know what they stand for.

      There is no ideological consistency in the two legacy parties. Libertarians are extremely ideologically consistent. That's why people with "flexible morals" who prefer tribal group think to logic and principles get so worked up about libertarians.
      Jun 28
  • Microsoft fafmftc
    Grow up, commies.
    Jun 27 1
  • Amazon bandersnatch
    Those of you who are software engineers in gaming don't need to unionize, but you should realize that your skills are more valuable on the open market than most game companies recognize. Historically, gaming companies have underpaid for technical skills, presumably because nerds who love games are willing to work for less money to work in the industry. Though, that's just speculation. One result of that is that the industry pays less as a whole and is able to get away with fewer benefits and/or worse treatment of employees.
    Jun 27 0
  • IBM / Eng WYmS28
    Generally speaking it is good to have unions when a skillset is a commodity, economically speaking. When a skillset is common and there isn't a labor supply problem (that is the number of available workers meets or exceeds the number of available jobs) then unions are needed to force the hand of the employer.

    When a skillset is scarce you don't need unions as much because market forces favor the worker. If he doesn't like his working conditions he can vote with his feet (something he can't as easily do when his skills are a commodity).

    In the subject of rather video game workers need a union: I think it's a well known fact that there's a lot more people wanting to work in the games industry than the games industry needs. That is, the labor is a commodity. So yes a union for video games workers makes perfect sense.
    Jun 27 7
    • IBM / Eng WYmS28
      @sony you may be in the subset of video game workers that isn't a commodity. But that doesn't mean the industry at large doesn't view their workers as a commodity. There's already subsets who have unionized: voice actors. I remember that the video game "life is strange 2" had to be put on hold because one of the main character's voice actors was actively in a strike for her union.
      Jun 27
    • Riot Games jadukn
      Many people may want to work in the games industry, but that doesn't mean that they possess the necessary skill to create a AAA experience for players.
      Jun 27
    • Microsoft specimen 🌮
      All of your skills are of more value outside of games.
      Jun 27
    • LinkedIn faghast
      You're missing an important part of the definition of the word 'commodity'. It means something that is interchangeable. Every one is the same. Like 1 pound of gold is the same as another pound of gold. One gallon of water is equal to another.

      You might think of workers in some jobs that way, but programmers are not interchangeable. Some are 10x more effective than others. They won't be a commodity for as long as that's true, no matter how much supply there is.
      Jun 27
    • LinkedIn faghast
      Also, don't buy complaints from game workers. They're in one of two scenarios:

      1) They could get a better job somewhere else, e.g. a non-gaming tech company, which would pay them better and have better WLB. But they love the gaming industry, so they're happier with lower pay and longer hours. That's great, but you don't get to complain.

      2) They don't have the skills to get a better job, so they are getting paid a lot, per hour, compared to their other options. They're still generally making more than the non-tech world. Be jealous of the rest of Blind, sure, but you're doing better than most of your high school classmates. Get some perspective.
      Jun 27
  • Oracle / Eng
    retardd

    Oracle Eng

    PRE
    Walmart
    retarddmore
    Honestly, if you feel that you're compensated at a below market value, you probably should just leave for a better opportunity. Union don't do you any benefit. Unless there's a monopoly in your industry. Then it's another problem.
    Jun 27 0
  • Expedia / IT NewbSDE
    Unions destroyed the US auto industry and gave the competitive edge to other countries. US companies would just outsource the work more than they do now.
    Jun 27 0
  • New / Eng
    qPKU33

    New Eng

    PRE
    Microsoft
    qPKU33more
    Against forced.unionism. Forcing people to join and pay for unions as a condition of employment is disgusting.
    Jun 27 6
    • Microsoft specimen 🌮
      I want to live in society, but don’t force me to help fund all the stuff like roads, cops, and k12. DISGUSTING!
      Jun 27
    • LinkedIn faghast
      Because being forced into a union is the reason we are able to teach, police, and build roads...?
      Jun 27
    • Microsoft specimen 🌮
      It was analogy. We are forced into society but we benefit from it. You can view it as sick, if you’d like, but it’s a slippery slope.
      Jun 27
    • Microsoft specimen 🌮
      Forced unionization is no more evil than forced citizenship and taxation. If you’re libertarian, you’d agree and hold consistent views, but also be an idiot.
      Jun 27
    • LinkedIn faghast
      We're not "forced into society". That's absurd. Your analogy doesn't work.

      Forced taxation is indeed evil. We fought a war against England over it. An idiot is someone who thinks he can steal money from his neighbor as long as he gets a majority of the houses on the block to vote that it's okay.
      Jun 28
  • Amazon / Mgmt palmface
    unions are unnecessary to address the issues you mentioned as those are already covered by existing laws.

    are there any other goals for said union?
    Jun 27 2
    • First Republic Nadu
      Sure and they’re always the same: Shake down workers, self deal, buy and sell influence.
      Jun 27
    • Microsoft specimen 🌮
      First Republic is going off of 1920s capitalist propaganda.....
      Jun 28
  • Amazon / Eng
    QLLw43

    Amazon Eng

    PRE
    Comscore, Inc.
    QLLw43more
    Gamers rise up!
    Jun 27 1
    • New / Product
      B0ngzilla

      New Product

      PRE
      Pegasystems, Robert Half
      BIO
      I’m Canadian, but then I got better.
      B0ngzillamore
      We really live in a society smh
      Jun 27
  • Proactis / Eng
    SwiftUIGuy

    Proactis Eng

    PRE
    Harris
    BIO
    Software Test Engineer attempting to transition to iOS Engineer.
    SwiftUIGuymore
    I’m against unions but if that’s the only way for game developers to be treated and compensated fairly then I’m for it.
    Jun 27 1
    • First Republic Nadu
      Fairly is what the market will bear. Anything else is factually self delusion.
      Jun 27
  • Uber / Eng po0
    Who the fuck is against unions? I hear game engineers have terrible wlb. Is that true?
    Jun 27 4
    • EA Mk55hd
      True
      Jun 27
    • Wizards of the Coast aaaabaa
      Yes but game developers are also the biggest bootlickers in tech.
      Jun 27
    • First Republic Nadu
      RSUs or DMV WLB. Choose wisely because you can’t have both.
      Jun 27
    • Wizards of the Coast aaaabaa
      In games you can't have either
      Jun 27
  • Unions are always a good thing. Workers rights are very important, especially in a field where abuse is commonplace.

    I don't trust any anti-union folk. Anyone who wants to perpetuate worker abuses is not a friend in the industry
    Jun 28 5
    • McKesson / IT
      smilidon

      McKesson IT

      PRE
      Apex Systems
      BIO
      I analyze technical stuff.
      smilidonmore
      Detroit and literally all of Michigan vehemently disagrees. Modern unions are more organized crime and less "workers rights". If you voluntarily pay more dues you can show up to work drunk or high and always count on having a paid day off and I'd they do fire you the unions got you so long as you voluntarily pay 10% instead of the required 5.

      Pretty much just paying protection money.
      Jun 28
    • Lol Detroit's problem is offshore outsourcing. This was done to go areas where it is easier to exploit labor.

      Also, citation needed. I literally don't believe you.
      Jun 28
    • McKesson / IT
      smilidon

      McKesson IT

      PRE
      Apex Systems
      BIO
      I analyze technical stuff.
      smilidonmore
      I guess you've never actually worked in a union shop then lol I was Ford IT for a while and we were considered "management" because we always fought to not be a part of that UAW nightmare and actually be paid what we were worth based on knowledge and performance and not some nonsensical formula based on seniority which makes no sense and won't take into account any other factors.

      You can Google it and read for yourself, the teachers union is so strong in Michigan and such a strangle hold that more people won the Michigan lottery jackpot last year (6) than teachers who were actually fired (4) in the entire states public education system and every single one of those only got fired because they were convicted of statutory rape. So the only way to get fired as a teacher is to sleep with a student and get prosecuted for it.

      In the UAW and people who work on and around it it is common knowledge and you are told that if you are a shit employee you better voluntarily increase your union contributions. When I would go down to the assembly lines to fix a printer or PC or something there were people who "inspected the line" which really just meant thier job was no longer needed due to automation or efficiencies but the u ions wouldn't let them be relocated or replaced so they then got a chair and sat there and stared at car parts as they went by. On more than one occasion I saw these "inspectors" sleeping.

      There is a reason Japanese auto workers make the same or more on average than US ones and yet the cars even after tarrifs are 10-15k less.
      Jun 28
    • 1) unions are optional. If you don't think you need someone having your back, that's fine; but it's kinda silly to be mad that other people prefer that safety net. Your anecdotal experiences don't discredit the common worker abuses in non-union industries.

      2) it just sounds like you fell for anti-union propaganda. Everything you're stating is rooted in half-truths and misuses of statistics.
      Jun 28
    • McKesson / IT
      smilidon

      McKesson IT

      PRE
      Apex Systems
      BIO
      I analyze technical stuff.
      smilidonmore
      It was a national headline that more people won the Michigan lottery than teachers who were fired and none of the ones fired were for performance reasons. You mean to tell me in a state of 10 million people which is bigger than many countries they didn't have one teacher in any school that was too bad at their job to be let go? That's nonsensicle bullshit and you know it.

      And as far as the UAW I don't need to believe anything as I saw it with my own eyes for years. And you can read how the pay and promotion system works for the UAW online, the ONLY thing that matters is seniority, that literally should be the only thing that doesn't matter. And it's only been in the law few years since right to work passed there, with huge support btw, that you can finally opt out of being in the union. Just be prepared to have your car windows broken and people ignore you all day every day. Because again they used organized crime tactics.
      Jun 28