Ellen Cunningham told PBP whats happening
I’m a game developer (specifically Game Writer) based in Dublin. Last year I travelled to San Francisco for the Game Developers Conference and while I was there I went to a few union round tables and talks. I heard stories from workers that I had already heard back home, stories of low pay, unreliable contracts, harassment, unpaid overtime or, even, totally unpaid necessary company work sold as internships and training.
I saw the people at the roundtables were forming grassroots movements to solve these issues by coming together to advocate for their rights as workers under the banner of Game Workers Unite. I wanted those same rights for my friends and colleagues at home. I also wanted to nurture a sustainable industry rather than one that will collapse in on itself a few years when workers start to burnout. So I teamed up with the FSU (Financial Services Union) to form a Irish game workers union.
I was very surprised by the immediate and positive response we got from workers. We put out a survey that has been completed by over 200 Irish game workers. We have a quite a large, active and diverse union committee and a rapidly growing membership.
All that game workers want is to work in a sustainable industry where they are not taken advantage of:
- They want reasonable wages that begin at the base living wage suggested by European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions, which is €11.90 per hour.
- They want to be paid for any work they do for a company past their expected work hours and they want those hours to be capped to avoid mental and physical illness.
- They want increased funding in the sector relative to the funding of flourishing game industries seen in other countries such as England or Canada.
- They want basic rules when it comes to being credited for their work.
We all want to get the most out of our emerging, but growing, games industry and providing basic workers rights is a step toward that goal.
You can check out our charter and the information released from our survey at https://gwuireland.org.