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56% of devs in favor of unionizing - IGDA

56% of devs in favor of unionizing - IGDA

Tue 24 Jun 2014 4:00pm GMT / 12:00pm EDT / 9:00am PDT
Developer

Survey of 2,200 finds more than half would vote for a national game dev union, representation of women has doubled in last five years

Support for a union among game developers has grown, according to survey results released today by the International Game Developers Association. The group today announced the result of its Developers Satisfaction Survey from earlier this year, which found that more than half of respondents were in favor of unionization.

Of the more than 2,200 developers surveyed, 56 percent said yes when asked if they would vote to form a national union of game developers in their own countries today. That's up from the group's 2009 Quality of Life Survey, where just 35 percent of more than 3,300 developers said they would vote in favor of unionizing at that time.

As for whether the IGDA was considering a move in that direction, the group's executive director Kate Edwards dismissed the notion.

"For the IGDA, we will always be a professional association," Edwards told GamesIndustry International. "That's what we exist for, and what we'll always be. But if we are seeing that developers feel unionization is what they perceive to be a solution, then that's something we're going to pay attention to and see where it goes for them."

"When we asked people how many jobs they'd had in the last five years and the average number was four, that was pretty eye-opening for us."

IGDA head Kate Edwards

The survey also yielded new findings on gender diversity. While the group determined that men still "dominate" the industry, it isn't to the same degree as before. The IGDA found 22 percent of respondents identified as female, up from 11.5 percent in 2009. Additionally, the 2009 survey only included "male" and "female" designations; this year's poll found 2 percent of respondents identifying as male-to-female transgender, male-to female transgender or "other."

Edwards also found responses on the lack of job security in the industry notable, if not exactly surprising.

"When we asked people how many jobs they'd had in the last five years and the average number was four, that was pretty eye-opening for us," Edwards said. "But I do think it basically confirms what a lot of us have sort of known and have been hearing anecdotally for a while now."

The Developers Satisfaction Survey also polled people on their salary, and found that nearly half of developers earn less than $50,000 annually. That stands in stark contrast to the Gamasutra annual Game Developer Salary Survey, which found that last year the average developer made more than $84,000, with QA being the only discipline with a sub-$50,000 average salary (and even that was a little shy of $49,000). Edwards chalked the difference up to a high percentage of the IGDA survey respondents who identified themselves as independent developers, saying they were likely working in freelance or start-up capacities.

A little less than two-thirds of respondents (61 percent) said they planned to work in games indefinitely. Of those who saw themselves leaving at some point, the most frequently given reason (39 percent) was a desire for a better quality of life.

The IGDA will release a summary report of the survey next month, followed up by reports focusing on specific topics within the survey, like diversity, quality of life, and employment practices. The group has said it will use the findings to help identify what its members care about and prioritize its initiatives and advocacy efforts around those subjects. To keep up with members' needs as they change, the IGDA is planning the Developer Satisfaction Survey as an annual exercise.

5 Comments

Nathan Ruck Programmer, Media Molecule

3 1 0.3
Surely an international union would make more sense? Otherwise one country can just undercut another.

Posted:5 months ago

#1

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,630 1,509 0.9
That's possible, but not necessarily guaranteed. Presumably it would be akin to acting unions, where you have SAG-AFTRA in the US, and Equity in the UK. Neither (afaik) undercuts the other.

Posted:5 months ago

#2

Kieren Bloomfield Software Engineer, EA Sports

98 91 0.9
56% is hardly an overwhelming majority. I for one would never join a union, I think it would be a disaster for our industry.

Posted:5 months ago

#3

Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development

961 1,759 1.8
Me too. What would it do? Most companies are already on a knife edge, so any sort of industrial action would just turn a bad job into no job. Hardly a win. And what's a union without any self defence or threat power.

Posted:5 months ago

#4

Jessica Hyland Character Artist

368 1,598 4.3
Popular Comment
Unions are supposed to be about more than strike threats and bullying. They provide their members with useful things like legal advice from specialists in the field, support during clashes with employers, guidelines on what contracts should look like and what are acceptable pay and working conditions. Lots of unions also provide training and personal development courses to their members. They're about empowering employees, leveling the power differential between an employee and their employer. These are all things that workers in the games industry could use, considering how often we hear about exploitative practises and mass layoffs.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Jessica Hyland on 26th June 2014 6:59pm

Posted:5 months ago

#5

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