Game Workers Unite has released a statement calling for more support for workers in the video game industry that have been affected by COVID-19. The statement calls for “flexible working hours, universal health service for all, a fair sick pay, and rent freezes.”
“Video games are and will be a crucial source of entertainment for millions of people right now,” reads the statement posted to Twitter. “And yet — there’s a huge disparity of job security between different roles, between different parts of the world.”
The statement continues with a call for companies to continue supporting developers and artists, but also “the people that are making the games’ production and release happen,” as well as “QA testers, event organizers, hard copy packing and retail staff, workers maintaining servers or shipping of games…cleaners, caterers, etc.”
For those not familiar, Game Workers Unite is an “international grassroots movement and organization dedicated to unionizing the game industry,” aiming to give a voice to developers, artists, designers, freelancers, and others involved in the industry.
With tons of studios being forced to shut their doors for the time being, there are some industry workers left without work, and more importantly without pay. It’s an issue the whole economic world is grappling with, as debate rages on over what sort of economic support workers should receive when the companies they work for close up shop during the COVID-19 shutdown. Game Workers Unite did not specify any particular company or companies as bad actors in their statement.
On one hand, some studios like EA and Rockstar have set up remote work solutions for its employees, allowing them to continue with business as usual.
On the other hand, GameStop was forcing employees to keep doors open amid COVID-19 concerns earlier this week, telling employees and law enforcement it was an “essential” business. However, only a day later, the company elected to close all stores in California, followed by all stores nationwide.
Game Workers Unite is encouraging “everyone to use their voices to call out the companies and regions” that are not providing fair aid to its workers in an effort help industry “workers cope with the devastating effects of COVID-19.”
Andrew Smith is a freelance contributor with IGN. Follow him on Twitter @_andrewtsmith.