Perhaps it’s fate that Polygon would choose this week of all weeks to run a piece of longform concerning the gaming industry’s practice of using contractors to save on game production as much as possible. We’re now comfortably in the awkward lull between the big hits of November and the silent but important February releases that are coming our way in 2017. Right now seems a perfectly good time to reflect on how our games get made. Especially as people who work for Crytek examine what to do now that it’s announced plans to close five different studios.
Published earlier this week, The Gaming Industry’s Disposable Workers says a lot about the electronic entertainment industry, none of which is all that admirable. It focuses on the plight of contract workers. These people who work on big-name franchises alongside studio staff, but aren’t considered studio staff at all. They don’t get health benefits and they don’t have sick days.
When their contracts are up, companies are free to get rid of the extra work force they’ve hired until they’re needed again. It disrupts families. It puts a lot of stress on their finances. It also makes those that do contract work regularly feel like they’re not worthy of full-time positions. The gaming industry gets away with it because regulators and labor boards are slow to prosecute, and those effected by the practice don’t have the resources to take them on. Companies save 30% of what they’d have spent on a full-time worker, Polygon notes.
Some of my favorite people in the industry are contract workers hired through labor firms, so this is a problem I completely sympathize with. I’ve met people who only want the stability and job security that the rightly colored badge for full-time employees offers. I
Read the piece and appreciate what a labor of love video games are. That’s all I ask.