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Topic: Why no unions in gaming?

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FOREST_RANGER

41. Posted:

So unions in the game industry don't do much except increasing costs and risk getting companies bankrupt, and risk for more unemployment? Okay.

So, yeah. No easy and immediate solution for this issue. Maybe if art and game design schools were not so popular while the game industry was extremely thriving, would there be a more definite solution since employers would be more unwilling to let go of employees. But for this circumstance to happen, we'd need to improve the global economy by a huge amount.

Treverend wrote:

Unions are bad. They made a lot of paper mills and other jobs around here go out of business. And I'm a free market economist.

So you endorse capitalism? Aren't unions a more socialistic movement?

Edited on by FOREST_RANGER

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edhe

42. Posted:

It sounds like another area where the publisher or developer company at large can rake in large amounts of cash. It's been said that companies like EA and Activision need to re-adjust their expectations because not every game is physically able to sell the millions of units needed to break even, but a happy workforce is just another expense to them.

When Nintendolife ran that story about the Wii U and Foxconn, and people talked about how it's manufacturing process breeds so much misery in the factories in China, I could similarly say (though to a lesser extent), I'd feel guilty buying a game where the people who created it are subject to long hours with excessive crunch time.

So if unions are introduced, development costs WILL go up - is that something we are to accept like how cheap labour from India & China gives us all our consumer goods?

Edited on by edhe

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Bankai

43. Posted:

Sean_Aaron wrote:

Bankai wrote:

Instead, tell people to stop "boycotting" developers for dumb reasons.

Outside of indies we don't generally buy games from developers but publishers. And I'd say if Ubisoft is on the brink then maybe they shouldn't be pissing off people who might otherwise give them money. Absolutely the wrong example to use here.

In any event I expect we'll all need to get used to having less variety in entertainment if the economy continues to tank. If salaries depress further, yes, people will be spending less on games so maybe these bloated dinosaur games publishers should stop spending so much to make games if they want to remain profitable. By the way, you often get better results from happy workers - just a thought. Valve sounds like it might be a nice place to work, so clearly it's not necessary to beat up your staff to keep things ticking over.

As far as the rest, no I'm not an executive and based upon the decisions I've seen made by various companies I've worked for over the years I'd say I'm a little too intelligent to be one.

Would you like to bet me that people at Valve don't have crunches and long work hours? Happy employees are important yes, but a company needs to achieve that without sacrificing productivity.

Look at Google and Facebook. Happiest employees in the world. It's a joke to think any of them work standard 9-5 jobs.

Without those 'dinosaur' publishers you wouldn't have games of the scale of Rayman, let alone Mass Effect, Call of Duty or Final Fantasy. Losing those millions of gamers that like those games would do far more damage than pissing off a few thousand Nintendo folks.

And I could walk into a doctor or layer's office armed with some Google searches and a healthy dose of unsubstantiated opinion and call him or her an 'idiot' for not telling me what I wanted to hear. I'm still probably going to be wrong for lacking in any of the skills or experience it would take to be a doctor or lawyer.

There is a reason I knew - not guessed, knew - you hadn't held an executive role before you said so. I'm not having a go at you, but you are greatly underestimating the job of an executive.

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Treverend

44. Posted:

@FOREST_RANGER Yeah, not the "Capitalism" that America has though. They can call it Capitalism but it's really not. In America we have chrony-Capitalism. A.K.A. Corporatism. I want true Capitalism.

Edited on by Treverend

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Bankai

45. Posted:

FOREST_RANGER wrote:

So unions in the game industry don't do much except increasing costs and risk getting companies bankrupt, and risk for more unemployment? Okay.

So, yeah. No easy and immediate solution for this issue. Maybe if art and game design schools were not so popular while the game industry was extremely thriving, would there be a more definite solution since employers would be more unwilling to let go of employees. But for this circumstance to happen, we'd need to improve the global economy by a huge amount.

Treverend wrote:

Unions are bad. They made a lot of paper mills and other jobs around here go out of business. And I'm a free market economist.

So you endorse capitalism? Aren't unions a more socialistic movement?

Unions in emerging economies are important because there are no government-controlled protections for workers.

All unions in developed markets achieve is getting workers with inflated senses of entitlement more money for less effort.

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Sean_Aaron

46. Posted:

Bankai wrote:

There is a reason I knew - not guessed, knew - you hadn't held an executive role before you said so. I'm not having a go at you, but you are greatly underestimating the job of an executive.

You mean making shareholders happy, ignoring the needs of the rank-and-file who actually keep a business running? Yes, I'm happily ignorant of those things. You can only really start wondering what goes on in the minds of the people at the top when you enter the management end of things - then the mysteries really deepen.

I don't have a problem with people working overtime if they want to and I expect in a deadline-oriented business that's necessary; I do oppose anyone being forced to do these things with the threat of the loss of their job. You treat your employees with respect and you can get that commitment without having to resort to bullying. And yes, I do manage people (as in tell them what to do and write annual performance appraisals) so I know what I'm talking about since you seem keen on that kind of thing.

Edited on by Sean_Aaron

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FOREST_RANGER

47. Posted:

Despite the realities, the Team Bondi development hell sounds really unfair for the workers. Extensive time crunches and a very low time of enjoyment, just to witness your own studio close doesn't sound nice. Yes, happy workers does sound useful for publishers and employers. But from what I assume of the game industry, happiness comes from accomplishment and a beneficial relationship with the colleagues and publisher, not a shorter work time and extra benefits. After all, these people should be wanting to create games and not expecting a generous pay :3

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Sean_Aaron

48. Posted:

I know given the choice I'd rather have better quality of life over better pay which is probably why I moved to the UK over a decade ago, even though it meant more than a %50 pay cut. I've only recently achieved parity with what I was making in California twelve years ago. Thankfully the cost of living in Scotland is a lot less than the SF Bay Area where I previously lived so I could do a lot more with a lot less. In horrible situations though, acting in unison is often the only way workers can make employers do what is right, hence my original question!

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Bankai

49. Posted:

Sean_Aaron wrote:

I know given the choice I'd rather have better quality of life over better pay which is probably why I moved to the UK over a decade ago, even though it meant more than a %50 pay cut. I've only recently achieved parity with what I was making in California twelve years ago. Thankfully the cost of living in Scotland is a lot less than the SF Bay Area where I previously lived so I could do a lot more with a lot less. In horrible situations though, acting in unison is often the only way workers can make employers do what is right, hence my original question!

The the most basic thing than an employer can do is stay open and employ employees.

I really don't understand how it's that hard to understand that a union in the games industry would destroy it, and I really can't wrap my head around how people are actually claiming that being out of work would be better than being employed.

You don't need a union to quit your job and be unemployed anyway.

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Bankai

50. Posted:

Sean_Aaron wrote:

Bankai wrote:

There is a reason I knew - not guessed, knew - you hadn't held an executive role before you said so. I'm not having a go at you, but you are greatly underestimating the job of an executive.

You mean making shareholders happy, ignoring the needs of the rank-and-file who actually keep a business running? Yes, I'm happily ignorant of those things.

And you're ignorant of what executives actually do, apparently.

You can only really start wondering what goes on in the minds of the people at the top when you enter the management end of things - then the mysteries really deepen.

Yeah, it's pretty amazing, huh? All these smart people become executives and suddenly you think they become idiots. Every one of them is wrong. It's not your perception or anything that is the problem.

I don't have a problem with people working overtime if they want to and I expect in a deadline-oriented business that's necessary; I do oppose anyone being forced to do these things with the threat of the loss of their job.

So you don't really understand how project-based work works then? Keeping your job is contingent on finishing the project on time and, if you're the boss, on budget. It's written into the contract that you sign and it's therefore also a requirement that is protected by law.

You treat your employees with respect and you can get that commitment without having to resort to bullying. And yes, I do manage people (as in tell them what to do and write annual performance appraisals) so I know what I'm talking about since you seem keen on that kind of thing.

You seem to equate asking people to do their jobs as not being "respectful," though. That's your problem. I wasn't being disrespected when I needed to stay back until 10 pm each night and work over a weekend because I had a magazine I needed to get edited. That was my job.

Also note: no one ever mentions this, because it just doesn't grab headlines, and doesn't fuel people's irrational hatred of DA MAN, but what happens after a crunch? A pretty damned lazy working week or two before the next project starts. In fact after one especially nasty crunch I basically stayed at home and had a free holiday week on the company time, because there wasn't much to do.

The upshot of project-based jobs, see.

Edited on by Bankai

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Sean_Aaron

51. Posted:

Bankai wrote:

Yeah, it's pretty amazing, huh? All these smart people become executives and suddenly you think they become idiots. Every one of them is wrong. It's not your perception or anything that is the problem.

Given how large financial institutions and telecoms companies threat their infrastructure and their lack of disaster recovery processes and the fact their bonuses are usually based solely around quarterly profits I find it difficult to come to any other conclusion. But, being a games journalist I expect you know more about all that than I do.

It's nice that you weren't disrespectfully treated when your boss needed you to do some OT. Sadly everyone else in the world isn't as fortunate as you; some people might benefit from a union to be so lucky...

And another truism about projects in IT is that it's pretty rare to encounter a project manager who can actually, you know, manage a project. When things get done, it tends to be in spite of the guy with the PowerPoint slides, not because of them. But again, as a games journalist, you probably have more experience of this than me, because I've only worked on IT projects for fifteen years.

Edited on by Sean_Aaron

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Bankai

52. Posted:

Sean_Aaron wrote:

Bankai wrote:

Yeah, it's pretty amazing, huh? All these smart people become executives and suddenly you think they become idiots. Every one of them is wrong. It's not your perception or anything that is the problem.

Given how large financial institutions and telecoms companies threat their infrastructure and their lack of disaster recovery processes and the fact their bonuses are usually based solely around quarterly profits I find it difficult to come to any other conclusion. But, being a games journalist I expect you know more about all that than I do.

I'm not seeing the problem here. Executives earn bonuses based on profit because the ethical responsibility of a business is to make profit. Corporate ethics and human ethics are a different thing. I would be very worried if I was some kind of stakeholder (shareholder, employee, customer) of a corporation that wasn't focused entirely on profit.

Oh, and for the record, I've only be a games journalist "on the clock" for two months. Digitally Downloaded is not my occupation, aside from the couple of months between jobs building it up.. Currently I'm a conference producer for financial services throughout Asia Pacific, and prior to that I was the editor of Australia's lead IT business publication. Most of my work for the past six years has been dealing with C-level executives at banks and IT companies. I also have multiple degrees in commerce, marketing and management.

And another truism about projects in IT is that it's pretty rare to encounter a project manager who can actually, you know, manage a project. When things get done, it tends to be in spite of the guy with the PowerPoint slides, not because of them. But again, as a games journalist, you probably have more experience of this than me, because I've only worked on IT projects for fifteen years.

And I run into very few employees who are both good at their job, and unhappy with the work they're doing. Good employees don't remain at a job that provides them no satisfaction. They take their skills elsewhere, or start up their own pet projects. We've seen both happen in the games industry from companies that are genuinely mismanaged (see: Zynga).

But I don't see a mass exodus from Ubisoft. Perhaps they have the employees physically chained to the desks so they can't escape the barbed whips of their task masters?

Poor, badly treated employees earning twice the average wages that can't ever leave their jobs. My heart cries out for them, what with their wives and husbands sitting alone in nice homes in nice suburbs for a couple of weeks a year during the one-project-a-year crunch. What an awful, awful lifestyle.

Or perhaps most of the people at Ubi are actually happy with the work they're doing, and either a couple of lousy employees have thrown a tantrum, or good employees are momentarily disappointed because someone at Ubi made a decision that could well save their jobs. I'm sure they'll get over it. Might need to buy a sports car to cope or something.

Edited on by Bankai

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FOREST_RANGER

53. Posted:

Not everything is exactly hard for the developers and the designers. If the project goes well and the publisher doesn't make dumb decisions that applies mainly to a game development project, the development team should be on tasks and are prepared for crunches. In addition, there are facilitators that do their best to keep game projects running smoothly. And if Extra Credits is right, that task goes to many game producers within the industry. Lastly, if an employee is essentially bullied by the game studio or the publisher, they could perhaps secretly seek out another job and quit their old job if they secure a new one :3

EDIT: I've cited the basic responsibility of a producer, which is in the format of a video

Edited on by FOREST_RANGER

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brooks83

54. Posted:

Unions are one of the worst things that could happen to gaming. Unions helped to get laws on the books and they are no longer needed today.

Edited on by brooks83

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Sean_Aaron

55. Posted:

If you think unions are no longer needed then I'm sure you won't mind employers chipping away at those laws that offer protection in the name of "competition" as is already happening in Europe for the past few years. The Working Time Directive is one of the reasons my current
PM's party is so keen to exit the EU; healthcare guarantees are fought in the USA because of the added cost to employers. If they could do it tomorrow companies would roll the clock back to the 1930s in the name of bigger profits - hell professional people in the United States are already conditioned to work overtime without extra pay (the only firm I've worked for here where that was true was an American company), so it's not unbelievable.

I for one will always do what is necessary for the job, but not at the cost of my family. As long as folk in the games industry tolerate these behaviours they won't stop and if everyone ends up the same as the economy worsens you won't have a "better company" to change jobs to.

Edited on by Sean_Aaron

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Bankai

56. Posted:

"working overtime without extra pay"

If you're working a salary, and most professional jobs are, then you're not actually paid per hour. You do realize that, right?

If you're talking about wages, then Australia must be the worker's paradise since overtime is legally enforced here.

Go us?

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Sean_Aaron

57. Posted:

Just because I'm not paid an hourly rate doesn't mean I don't deserve additional compensation/incentive when I work beyond my normally contracted hours. Like I say I've been paid a minimum time-and-half (RBS paid no less than x2 the hourly equivalent) everywhere I worked with the exception of an American headquartered firm that acted like the world worked according to American rules (and consequently found it tough to recruit in Scotland where "work hard, play hard" tends to get "no thanks" as a response).

Over the past 50 years it's become abundantly clear that there is no reward for employee loyalty: they'll pay as little as they can for as long as they can and the best way to improve your situation is to quit. I'd rather not work that way, but that's the way it is.

I'm pretty sure that once India and China wages reach parity with wealthier nations we'll start seeing a return to the bad old days and people will have to fight the labour battles of the past again after decades of depending upon laws long-since eroded to protect them.

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6ch6ris6

58. Posted:

so sad to read some of the comments here.
i guess some people will only realize what is happening when they are the ones suffering on the streets. but then it is too late for most people...

workers have to unite and fight for their rights.

at least some people see clear and do something: http://blog.occupiedlondon.org/2013/02/11/occupied-greek-fact...

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Bankai

59. Posted:

6ch6ris6 wrote:

so sad to read some of the comments here.
i guess some people will only realize what is happening when they are the ones suffering on the streets. but then it is too late for most people...

workers have to unite and fight for their rights.

at least some people see clear and do something: http://blog.occupiedlondon.org/2013/02/11/occupied-greek-fact...

lol

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Ryno

60. Posted:

Because I don't want to get punched in the face by some Union thugs when I don't 'buy their crappy game.

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