The clouds above game development are beginning to grow dark, and a trickle of politically correct and creatively stifling drops are slowly raining down upon the medium at large. From the cerebrally fragile individuals over at Waypoint, to the thin skinned writers of Kotaku, and to every other similar gaming news site filled with overly sensitive political activists masquerading as game journalists, a common phrase is blowing from the hot crevice that runs below their lower backs, “Game developers unite!”.
To some reading this it may seem understandable as to why video game developers should unionize. In a year filled with story after story of workers getting screwed over by lengthy crunch periods or the mistakes of upper management making their lives difficult, I don’t think any rational person would argue against creating a system that protects those who give their lives creating content for a hobby we love. Even to those that churn out games I dislike, these people deserve some level of care and respect.
But as it stands now, unions are not the answer.
Across the net, on podcasts and in articles, gaming websites such as Kotaku, Giant Bomb, Variety, GameIndustry.biz, Waypoint, and countless others have come out as pro-union. Often name dropping an organization called ‘Game Workers Unite’ (GWU).
So what exactly is GWU?
According to their mission statement they are a “broad-reaching organization that seeks to connect pro-union activists, exploited workers, and allies across disciplines, classes, and countries in the name of building a unionized game industry.”
At face value such a statement doesn’t seem all that bad, but it’s when combined with the code of conduct that the truth gets laid bare. If this union ever reached their ultimate end goal of creating an all encompassing union that organizes “all workers in the industry regardless of discipline”, then I have some bad news.
Simply put, GWU is a politically correct radical leftist’s wet dream and it’s blatantly obvious how it would be used in today’s political climate to punish those within the industry who express ‘wrongthink’.
“Unacceptable behavior from any community member… will not be tolerated.” The code of conduct states, a code that also tells members to alert a committee member if they notice someone breaking the CoC. Even if such violations seem “inconsequential”.
As per the CoC, one thing they stand against is “all racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, ableist, classist, ageist, or otherwise derogatory language and behavior.”
Rational as that may seem, one must only look at moments from this past year and how incorrectly those labels have been used to see just why this is problematic.
Months ago, Sean Halliday, a now fired social media manager for the online game distributor GoG, made a harmless tweet that was then labeled “transphobic” by the gaming news media. They threw a fit and began a harassment campaign that eventually resulted in him getting fired from his job. Things got so heated that the ‘tolerant’ left bombarded him and his family with hateful phone calls.
Sean was eventually hired by Jeremy Hambly (aka The Quartering) at his new website Exclusively Games and given the position of community manager. Sadly, not long after his hiring he was forced to step down for fear of losing future job opportunities after the gaming news media once again began to smear his name.
For as laughable as it may sound, as a game journalist myself who just so happens to be trans, I’ve been labeled a transphobic TERF (Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist) and a “self-loather” by the new radical left. And if I can be labeled transphobic, what do you think will happen to those that say the wrong joke, or who use the wrong word, especially if they’re being targeted by people who dislike them due to their politics.
During E3 2017 a new game was shown off called ‘The Last Night’. Immediately the trailer for the cyberpunk sidescroller wowed those watching the Microsoft press conference with its sleek visuals and cool aesthetic. Sadly, for creator Tim Soret, the jovial moment of showing off his new game to high acclaim was cut short when the perpetually offended outrage mob dug into his old tweets and found content they deemed ‘offensive’.
Before long he was labeled as being part of a hate movement for suggesting that Gamergate supporters were for journalistic integrity and honest debate. None of this was the end of it because by the time the dust settled the fringe left viewed him as an anti-feminist Gamergater who didn’t support their values and who was a right wing monster.
Ignoring that he is none of those things, the damage had been done and development on his game ran into problems. So much so that just last week news broke that creation of his game is struggling amid financial and legal issues.
A struggle that was celebrated by the senior editor of Game Informer, Imran Khan, who in a now deleted Tweet replied to the news by saying it was “good”. A man by the way who by all appearances seems to be a supporter of Game Workers Unite.
The new radical left, of which many game journalists belong, has no issue with ruining the careers or lives of those who they deem to be enemies. Express the ‘wrong’ view online, or say a ‘bad’ joke, and anyone can fall victim to the deluge of labels that will forever be plastered to their person as they become nothing but another body to squash in the left’s pursuit of political correctness.
Which is why more people should be worried about the unionization of this hobby they love.
As seen above, people are constantly misrepresented and their image sold to the public as something to be feared. If unionization became a reality Tim Soret would be placed on a list of bad boys who broke the GWU’s code of conduct. And he’s just one name of many.
In my own reporting over the summer about the workplace conditions at Arkane Studios, one source opened up to me about their fear of following the ‘wrong’ people online. Afraid that their right leaning views would lead them to trouble, they no longer felt safe expressing their true beliefs.
GWU claims they “are committed to remaining non-sectarian” and that they “will not censor or deride individuals for their particular political tendency.” However, this claim is immediately followed up with “we reserve the right to censor politics that are pro-employer, pro-exploitation, pro-oppression, bigoted, or are in any other way reactionary.”
And in an environment where everybody to the center/right is labeled a bigot, it doesn’t take much in the way of imagination to see where this will go awry.
Authors disclosure: I am an editor at Exclusively Games