Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, many businesses and different industries have had to temporarily close due to the efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19. In the video game industry, it has led to the cancellation of events such as E3 and the postponement of events like GDC. In addition, several publishers and developers have made the decision to have their employees work from home. Other companies like GameStop tried to keep their business open but eventually closed. One of the many concerns and issues that everybody is having is how employees are being treated during this time and how COVID-19 has impacted several aspects of the video game industry. One of the aspects brought up recently is how companies like Amazon are focusing on shipping essential items during this time which means that customers who’ve purchased physical copies of games won’t get theirs on time. Game Workers Unite, an international grassroots organization of game workers putting together unions made a statement regarding the Coronavirus pandemic and several issues that they believe should be addressed.
Game Workers Unite International statement on the COVID-19 crisis pic.twitter.com/oiht6zqfYD
— Game Workers Unite ✊🏿✊🏽✊🏾 (@GameWorkers) March 22, 2020
The full statement by Game Workers Unite International says: “YES – videogames are and will be a crucial source of joy and entertainment for millions of people right now, during this difficult time. YES – we encourage that, we support that – games are there to release pain, inspire co-operation, increase bonding between different generations, or sometimes, and that’s okay, just to pass time. And YET – there’s a huge disparity of job security between different roles, between different parts of the world. Even if most game devs and artists are safe, the people that are making the games’ production and release happen are going through hell right now – QA testers, events organisers, hard copy packaging and retail staff, workers maintaining servers or shipping of the games, let alone the incredible carers of our office spaces – cleaners, caterers. etc. We are hearing stories of layoffs and forced unpaid leave in these sectors and want to encourage everyone to use their voices to call out the companies and regions doing this.” The main thing that Game Workers Unite is saying is that
After this crisis, nothing will be the same – for all workers we must demand: flexible working hours, universal health services for all, a fair sick pay, rent freezes and a more sustainable way of making games and games’ hardware too.