Some thoughts on the IGDA (or: why I quit)

by Darius Kazemi on September 3, 2013

in activism,igda,industry

For nearly three years, I served on the Board of Directors of the International Game Developers Association (IGDA). I ran in the elections for the IGDA board because in 2009 I really believed in their mission, and I believed that as an organization it could improve the lives of individual game developers everywhere.

Three years later, in March 2013, with three days left in my term, I resigned: partly because of this debacle, but also because I simply couldn’t take it anymore. It has taken me months to collect my thoughts and feelings about the IGDA into something that I hope is coherent. Here it is.

“Fiduciary responsibility” and the status quo

During my board member orientation in March 2010, the absolute first thing I was told was that as a board member, my primary duty was my fiduciary responsibility to the organization. It seemed reasonable at the time: don’t spend the organization’s money irresponsibly, right? This is standard operating procedure for nonprofits in the United States, yet it’s an incredibly fucked up concept — particularly when it’s considered more important than the actual mission of the organization.

Here is the problem: fiduciary responsibility as a number one priority means that the most important thing for the organization is the continued existence of the organization. This means that any action we could take as an organization that carried any sort of significant risk of us losing a chunk of members (or god forbid, our corporate sponsorships) would be immediately shot down by a majority of board members with some variation of the refrain, “My fiduciary responsibility to the organization prevents me from supporting this.” What this translated to: anyone with an agenda that promoted anything but the status quo would be heavily challenged. Even something relatively innocuous like, “Instead of pointing out bad studios to work for, let’s highlight some good studios to work for!” was cause for alarm because it would surely alienate a never-specified number of people whose memberships we couldn’t stand to lose!

Enforced austerity

A helpful analogy is the enforced austerity that groups like the IMF impose upon countries that agree to massive loans. Austerity is the means that the IMF uses to impose a set of values on a country and force it to go in a direction it was not intending to head. For example:

Turning for credits to the IMF in 1975–6, [the UK's Labour government] faced the choice of either submitting to IMF-mandated budgetary restraint and austerity or declaring bankruptcy and sacrificing the integrity of sterling, thus mortally wounding financial interests in the City of London. It chose the former path, and draconian budgetary cutbacks in welfare state expenditures were implemented. The Labour government went against the material interests of its traditional supporters. (David Harvey, A Brief History of Neoliberalism)

By continuously repeating that fiduciary responsibility is the primary responsibility of a board member (rather than doing things that are on-mission for the org), the IGDA Board lives in a state of internally-enforced austerity. Even when we have extra money, that money is either saved rather than spent, or it is spent on maintaining the status quo. Financial stability is always chosen over the material interests of the individual developers the IGDA is supposed to represent.

The IGDA website is a good example. Traditionally the IGDA has offered forums or a big shitty enterprise CMS / social network that supposedly helped members but was always just a mess and a resource drain. We’d been putting off fixing the website for years because we didn’t have the money, and then one year we did have the money, thanks to careful cost cutting and corporate sponsorship and membership drives and other things. So someone brought up: we have some money now! Can we fix the website? I proposed nuking the site completely and replacing it with a simple blog. A (relatively) radical move, and one that would piss off some members, but one that would save us money and energy that could be spent on making changes in the industry rather than maintaining a website.  Instead, the board voted to have a subcommittee create a proposal to overhaul the website, maintaining most of its original, bloated functionality, and trying to find a contractor that would do good work for the amount of money that we had set aside. Because heaven forbid we upset the status quo! We would rather spend money to not scare off members (who are considered long-term income) than save money and possibly lose some members in the short term. Even when the latter might cause us to gain members in the long term by using that money to create effective programs to help workers.

Know when to let go

The moral basis for all of this is the theory that an organization that exists can do more good in the world than an organization that does not exist. But that is a flawed assumption. Because the IGDA exists, when workers start to grumble about organizing, corporations can point to the IGDA and say, “You already have an organization. Be happy.” When workers start to talk about unionizing 1, corporations can point to the IGDA and say, “Join that organization instead.” If workers complain that the IGDA is not effective in advocating for developers, those in power can say, “But have you tried to make it better yourself? It’s community-run! Have at it!”

The worst thing is when someone joins this organization and starts to spend their energy trying to make it more effective. They don’t know when they come in that the IGDA’s number one priority is and always has been its continued existence, full-stop. It provides an energy-sink so that young people (like me when I was 19 and first joined the org) can waste their time on pointless bullshit when really they should be spending that energy on organizing labor and other forms of activism.

What I’m saying is: if the IGDA disappeared tomorrow, 1) there would be a vacuum that could and probably would be filled by other, better orgs, and  2) the amazing and wonderful volunteers whose energy keeps the IGDA running could put that energy into those organizations, or into their own solo activist projects. If the IGDA disappeared, conditions for workers would not change materially, and in the long term, these conditions might even improve since energy would no longer be spent on an org that is structurally unable to engage in collective bargaining 2. Given the current state of the IGDA, by buying into the idea of “fiduciary responsibility” to the organization as their primary duty, board members are working against the interest of the individual developers who pay dues. Better to just close up shop and deliver a prorated refund to people for their remaining memberships.

I want to be perfectly clear so that people understand my present position as a former member of the IGDA Board of Directors: I believe that it is in the interest of game studios and publishers 3 for an association of workers like the IGDA to exist in an ineffective state in order to drain the energy of people who could otherwise do effective pro-developer activism and to provide a straw man that can be pointed to in order to show that organizing will get us nowhere.

It is the fiduciary responsibility of IGDA board members to ensure that the organization continues to exist, but it is the moral responsibility of IGDA board members to ensure that it does not.

An apology

Because I have nowhere better to put this apology: to the people who elected me to the IGDA Board, I’m sorry that I was unable to enact much change during my tenure. I found it exhausting to go up against the refrain of austerity again and again. By the end of the second year of my term I was basically checked out. I should have resigned right then. I actually tried to resign on a couple occasions, but on each occasion another Board member convinced me that I could do some good by staying on the Board. Then I’d put some effort in, hit the same brick wall, feel like shit, and mentally check out again. I truly wish I’d been stronger.

Notes:

  1. I don’t know how I feel about unions yet. I’m learning a lot more about them right now. What I do know is that this structure discourages both unions and other forms of worker organization.
  2. From the IGDA FAQ:

    Q: What is the “legal” status of the IGDA?

    A: The IGDA is an independent, non-profit membership association and is recognized as a 501(c)6 tax-exempt organization by the US Internal Revenue Service and as a mutual benefit non-profit assocation under California-state law.

    Q: Is the IGDA a union or guild?

    A: No. The IGDA is an independent non-profit membership association. The IGDA cannot “transform” into a guild or a union.

  3. I’m not saying the studios are engaged in conspiracy, or that they actively hate developers. They are not that well organized. I’m saying that lack of labor organization favors studios, so the phenomenon of toothless, distracting organizations is aligned with their interests.

{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

Brent Ellison September 3, 2013 at 5:28 pm

Wow man, thanks for writing this! It’s always good to get a wake-up call once in a while on broken systems like this. Any thoughts on what could be done next?

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Darius Kazemi September 3, 2013 at 5:36 pm

I’m in the process of reading more about the history of labor organization. Going to educate myself before making any pronouncements about what to do next. What I do believe is: a fundamentally different type of organization (or a set of them) is necessary.

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Brandii September 4, 2013 at 7:23 am

Interestingly, I actually considered giving an IGDA Summit talk on “labor unions 101″.

A few years ago, I found myself suddenly leading a unionization movement at a college where I taught game design. This movement quickly turned into a semi-high profile NLRB case (http://www.nlrb.gov/case/31-CA-029627). Since then, I’ve spoken on Capitol Hill as an invited guest of both the AFL-CIO & the American Federation of Teachers, helped gain Congressional support for new NLRB regulations that passed last year & went into effect this Spring, and joined the Writers Guild’s Video Game Caucus where I’ve acted as a liaison for the IGDA. (Prior to all this, I had been rather anti-union; I’m still surprised by how many misconceptions I’d held about unions.)

So, if you’d like to learn more, I can speak about both the practical and political sides of labor unions, labor law, and unionization. I also have good contacts if you need more detailed legal advice. Please feel free to email me anytime: brandii@igda.org

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Darius Kazemi September 4, 2013 at 2:23 pm

That’s really interesting, thanks Brandii!

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Ken K September 5, 2013 at 11:34 am

I think the thing is a lot of people see unions as self fulfilling organizations (like the IGDA was somewhat described here) full of corruption and protecting deadbeat employees… and frankly in some cases they may be… but rather than blanket perceptions of unions I’d say fix the union if it isn’t doing its job.
I’d be willing to be all but the most fractured union is still protecting its members… who without organization come from a much weaker bargaining standpoint that the larger better financed organization.

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Michael Lubker September 6, 2013 at 7:23 am

*cough* I remember the “edgy” times *cough* regarding member (or board member) “protection”.

Ben Crause September 5, 2013 at 8:14 am

Absolutely impressive. I applaud you for standing up and speaking out loud on this.
You seem to have quite a drive and passion for this and I hope you find a new path to emerge on and work actually on those things you wanted to improve.
Even more so I hope other developers will look at this and learn something.

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Christian Boutin September 3, 2013 at 6:02 pm

Excellent article. If I might say though, every entity from a single-cell biological organism to an abstract moral entity such as a union, association, corporation, non-profit, or most things you can imagine, put self-preservation as a top priority. This means that most entities created to address real, specific issues generally outlive their original purpose by a long (long) time. Sometimes becoming worst than the problem they were originally meant to address. It would be awesome if we, as a somewhat self-aware and free-willed species, could recognize that there is much to be gained in regularly scuttling associations and let new ones be rebuilt. But I wonder if that just goes against our very biology. Looking forward to read about your findings!

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Darius Kazemi September 3, 2013 at 6:09 pm

I agree that it’s a widespread tendency. I think we need to learn to put expiration dates on things.

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Alexx Kay September 4, 2013 at 10:03 am

I’ve thought for a long time that “fiduciary responsibility towards the stockholders” is the thing that is most wrong with America. If corporations are people, this fiduciary responsibility concept legally enforces them to be sociopaths.

(Somewhat tangentially, I’ve also thought that it would be a great idea for laws and regulations to have associated statements of desired effects, metrics to measure those effects, and automatic sunsetting if the metrics show that they aren’t working as intended.)

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Darius Kazemi September 4, 2013 at 2:22 pm

Re: desired effects and metrics, that can have awful results. See No Child Left Behind for an example.

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Alexx Kay September 4, 2013 at 3:54 pm

I meant metrics to measure how well the *legislation* is doing at accomplishing its goals, with the consequences of poor performance to be born *by* the legislation. NCLB is measuring (and delivering consequences to) state-funded education, not reflecting on its *own* performance.

I do grant the more general point, that any system of rules can (and inevitably) will be abused by min-maxers.

Chris Sanyk September 5, 2013 at 6:30 pm

I agree. I can’t fault IGDA for prioritizing continued existence. I think Darius’s argument is a bit overstated; if we re-state his position slightly, to something like “IGDA is too risk averse to make necessary change in order to better serve its own membership,” I think he has a stronger position.

Darius, it’s good that you put in the time and fought the good fight. Also, good on you for learning when to resign. If you can’t be effective within an organization, the right thing to do is to resign, and then speak out publicly, in order to foster the sort of dialog that is necessary in order to move forward on an issue where things were previously stuck.

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Duane Jeffers September 3, 2013 at 7:56 pm

I remember having the discussion with you about the website at BarCamp Orlando, and thinking that doing what you suggested (putting together a new site) was the best option. I’m sorry that I didn’t fight the board myself. But, again, I was a “youngster” that was just wanting to help the organization that I’ve been volunteering many years for. For me, the IGDA “veil” lifted from that exchange. It’s disheartening to hear that the board and the executive director (at the time, not the current ED) “hated” me for quitting a non-paid volunteer position. If the money problems were the reason why you quit, hearing that a volunteer was disliked for their service is the reason why I quit.

Also, thank you for everything that you tried to do during your tenure. I know you tried your best.
-dj

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Stephen Jacobs September 3, 2013 at 10:04 pm

I’m on numerous boards of numerous for profit and not for profit entities.
Fiduciary responsibility is a primary responsibility of ANY board for any org.
That in and of itself does not have to hamstring a board or an organization, merely guide it. So the issues cited here have to do with the board members, or perhaps just the executive members (depending on how tightly the exec controls the overall board) and the decisions they choose to make, rather than financially responsible behavior as a requirement.

Board members are elected. You get the leadership you deserve, as they say. An organization’s success is also driven by the dynamic between the board, the people the board hires to lead the org on the ground and the membership. Between Jason and Kate I think there’s been a series of disappointing group of folks in the leadership position. If the membership and the board can get behind her and let her drive there may be some life in the IGDA yet.

There’s a difference between the goals and purposes of a professional association and a labor union, so while you are doing you research take a look at those differences.
My grandfather worked with the Reuther Brothers to form the auto workers union and my fathers cousins were shop stewards and organizers in Detroit. Historically they’ve been crucial, recently many have suffered from corruption and/or bad management and they’ve gotten a bad name. In the current political climate starting a new union is gonna be an uphill battle to say the least. You’ll also wanna look at the animator’s and writer’s unions, who are already willing to work and/or already have provisions for folks in the game industry. The issue there is getting the industry to accept those contracts. Another uphill battle.

Those are my thoughts for what they are worth

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Paul Sinnett September 4, 2013 at 1:59 am

Hi Darius. I’d like to say I told you so, but I don’t think I did. I think you were on the way in as I was on the way out.

I have since told people about my experiences with the organisation for which I have apparently been labelled part of a “vocal and hateful minority that will never be satisfied” according to one board member. I suspect your experiences and views (which are very similar to my own) will earn you a similar label. It’s an epithet I am happy to have as I think it represents something of an award in itself.

I, too, put some research into alternative organisational structures after leaving the organisation. My conclusion, as far as I got with it, was some kind of co-operative structure. But I’ve not pursued things any further as it’s hard to come up with any real need for an alternative in any case.

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Darius Kazemi September 4, 2013 at 2:23 pm

Thanks Paul. I believe you DID actually warn me :)

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Paul Sinnett September 4, 2013 at 4:36 pm

Ah well, I guess it must be one of those lessons that everyone has to learn for themselves.

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Kain Shin September 4, 2013 at 9:05 am

Hi Darius. Much respect goes to you for writing this. I came to the same conclusion in 2009 when I realized just how much work we (the Austin chapter) did and how little support we got from IGDA-central. Specifically, we drove up IGDA membership amongst students and studios… that money went to central. None of that money reached the Austin chapter. And so no matter how hard we worked, the reputation (and therefore the money) would go to IGDA-central, and the actual funds we use for activities in our city would either come out of our pocket or from direct solicitations for sponsorship that we basically do as a self-contained organization.

I want an organization to exist for game developers that goes beyond selling moral authority and goes into the types of activities that ACM and IEEE do. At this time, Gamasutra is the closest I know to fulfilling my needs as a professional. Maybe that’s all I need to be satisfied.

Sincerely,
“a vocal and hateful minority that will never be satisfied”

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Ian Schreiber September 4, 2013 at 9:54 am

As you research unions, I suggest you look less at things like Teamsters or AFL-CIO, and more at Hollywood guilds like SAG and DGA. These have some very interesting models that seem like they’d be pretty easily applied to games – for example, there’s less of a focus on strongarming studios to provide better working conditions (because they have that power, they don’t need to exercise it) and more on mentoring and giving back to the community.

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Darius Kazemi September 4, 2013 at 2:23 pm

Thanks Ian. I’m definitely looking into the Hollywood history.

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Ernest W. Adams September 4, 2013 at 3:55 pm

Darius, I remember you as a vociferous critic of the IGDA before you were elected to the board. Then you joined and found that your viewpoint was a minority one and you couldn’t get your way. Those are the breaks in a collective endeavor; Ron Paul had the same experience in Congress for decades. If you don’t like having a fiduciary duty to a membership, don’t become the leader of a membership organization.

Game developers are a libertarian bunch, and they resist anything that looks like regimentation — herding cats doesn’t begin to describe it. I knew for a fact that they wouldn’t tolerate anything that looked like a union when I set up the IGDA in 1994 — they all see themselves as potential management, not as labor. My model for the organization was the Association for Computing Machinery, and while the IGDA is not and will never be that big, it has still managed to achieve some of the same goals, and in some cases more, since it is active in protecting our First Amendment freedoms and the ACM is not. I’m proud of all that it has achieved, which includes some things that I never envisioned for it in the first place, against the considerable obstacle that game developers are not natural joiners.

I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors.

Ernest Adams
Founder

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Tom Buscaglia September 4, 2013 at 4:03 pm

Dude…I don’t know where you got your idea, but you got the whole Fiduciary Duty thing wrong. In non-profit membership association (like the IGDA) Board members have a Fiduciary Duty to the members to act in their best interests…not to the org itself. Of course, keeping the org functioning usually is an important part of that fulfillment of that duty, but if it turned out that shutting the org down was in the best interests of the members, then that would be the duty of the board to do so. However, in spite of your suggestion to the contrary, I believe that even in its flawed state, we are all way better off with the IGDA than we would be without it and I will continue to work to make sure it remains so….

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Darius Kazemi September 4, 2013 at 4:21 pm

But if you accept the premise that the world is better with the organization than without it, no matter what, then fiduciary duty becomes primarily a matter of self-perpetuation of the organization. Particularly when the specter of “membership loss” can be incurred at any remotely radical suggestion.

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David September 4, 2013 at 4:43 pm

I know this is a little off topic, but this is the same way I feel about HOA’s (Home Owners Associations) I think that research on this might complement your research on unions. They start off as something good, and lose sight of their mission relatively quickly once their purpose is fulfilled. After that, they exist to keep themselves existing.

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Henry Dorsett September 4, 2013 at 4:51 pm

I gotta say, kudos to you for speaking out. If things are anywhere as bad as you say, it’s no wonder the “professional” game industry, the big names who care enough about this kind of stuff to be in any way tied to an organization like the IGDC, is in such piss-poor, almost revolting shape. Between an ineffectual organization like the IGDC and the foolishness of consumers to buy the polished garbage most large studios put out these days, simply because it looks good, I’m surprised the game industry hasn’t hit a second industry-wide collapse like the one in 1983.

Best of luck with any sort of future activism you may do on the subject. Honestly, we need more people doing this kind of work, and doing it well.

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Andrew Armstrong September 4, 2013 at 7:06 pm

So this is why we’re stuck with such a poor excuse for a website still. I provided days of feedback time on the implementation of the monstrosity to start with and expected it to be binned within your tenure.

A real shame. I do still participate but now in such a limited capacity, especially because the website is so poorly maintained :( this is even after seeing good people added to the board very recently.

I hope the IGDA improves and you come back to it with some grit though. I still call for binning the website as a starter. If only I had enough time to help do it in my “free time” as it were. Oh well.

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Melanie Stegman September 5, 2013 at 6:27 am

Look into the post doctoral scientists unionization. And in wider view, into the fact that jobs like college professor, scientist, teacher are “respected” but not compensated. Many professors work as adjuncts in several places because they can’t get a full time professor gig. Post docs are folks with PhD’s who are paid $36,000/year to work in academic/for profit labs with the hopes of someday becoming a professor themselves.
This minimum pay suggestion of $36,000 was added to the National Institutes of Health grant guidelines after Post Doc unions and Post Doc Associations starting forming at schools across the nation. A post doc association formed at Weill Cornell College of Medicine in the early 2000′s and Cornell quickly responded by announcing guidelines for pay for post docs–many had been working for $10,000/year. In Manhattan. So an employee association can have a big effect itself.

There are many examples of highly trained people who need some collective bargaining to make their fields more fair. Sure, a PhD level biochemist won’t starve, and aggressive, hard workers will succeed. But if the market doesn’t demand our skills, if there are more biochemists than positions, or if there are ways of hiring s part time and firing us when a project is over (Adjunct professor is very similar to developers brought on for a a project) then the employers will find a way to make the most profit. An employee association is likely the only meaningful force pushing in favor of quality of life for the employees.

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Michael Lubker September 5, 2013 at 10:22 am

I would prefer a push to organize companies as B-corp or coop vs C-corp/LLC/the like rather than unions.

Also maybe a game developers credit union for financing. ;)

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Jason Della Rocca September 5, 2013 at 12:54 pm

Interesting discussion… though a little surreal given I’ve not been involved with the IGDA (other than helping to run the Montreal chapter), since I stepped down in early 2009.

I recall covering the fiduciary responsibility aspect of being on the board, but was certainly not the emphasis. I even encouraged new board members to be radical and to push and prod and not be shy. During my tenure, it was less an issue of misspending funds (though we were always quite frugal), instead boards just didn’t want to screw up. Being on a board and leading a non-profit is not an every day skill, and there really was a sense of being afraid to do something and then have it blow up. But, I suppose that is just another form of maintaining the status quo.

I was often threatened to be fired because I was always pushing too hard for change (one year they sent me to business manners training because I was just too aggressive (and media training too, both of which were great, BTW)). But, I didn’t care. I was always willing to risk my job to push for what I thought was best for members and/or the industry.

For example, before I stepped down, I was making a big push to open up membership and make it free. Actually, funny enough, not dissimilar to a free-to-play model, whereby members who wanted to engage more deeply could pay for different services (eg, register for an IGDA conference, or a ticker to the E3 party, etc). But of course, that was too radical.

Along the lines of what Darius says, there is a great quote from Clay Shirky’s “Here Comes Everybody” that essentially states that as soon as the org is focused on preserving itself (rather than deliver its mission), it is over. I always took that to heart and often naively assumed that if we pushed enough on the mission, the preservation aspect would just work out fine.

Kate has that drive for the mission… I’m eager to see what she can do under such challenging times.

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Steve Meretzky September 5, 2013 at 8:03 pm

Darius,

I haven’t read Dustin’s response yet, but here’s my initial reaction: I think you are really really wrong that if the IGDA went away, the vacuum would likely be filled by something better. I was there when the IGDA formed (or, more accurately, when the IGDA’s precursors formed). And not to say that conditions of the industry in 2013 are anything remotely like the early 90′s, but there’s nothing about today’s conditions that would lead me to think that a vacuum would be filled any more quickly, efficiently, or effectively now. Conversely, you’d be throwing away 20 years worth of growth and struggle.

I think the idea of starting a developer’s guild is worth exploring, but there’s no reason that this effort can’t co-exist in the same world as the IGDA; I don’t see your desire to see the IGDA go away as being in any way a necessary precursor for that effort.

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Paul Sinnett September 6, 2013 at 4:19 am

I’d agree that if the IGDA went away I don’t think any single organization would naturally spring up in its place. But to my mind that’s an indication that it has become an irrelevance. Certainly in London, where the local group rarely runs any meetings, any number of game developer meet up groups have sprung up. They are all more narrowly focused but some are larger individually than the IGDA group even at its most populous; together they are much larger.

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Graham September 6, 2013 at 6:23 pm

You stated in your article that you wanted to make changes to the organization, but you never really stated what they were. Can you maybe divulge into what IGDA’s “status quo” is and what you wanted them to do differently?

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Darius Kazemi September 10, 2013 at 11:17 am

Generally speaking: I wanted IGDA to cut out corporate members, including studios that pay for individual memberships of every developer (it gives management leverage to tell them what to do or not do). I wanted IGDA to create some kind of a program where we can say “as of this date and based on our research and interviews with random employees, these studios are good places to work, those studios are not.” That got stalled and then downgraded to a “here are studios that volunteer information about their workplaces; draw your own conclusions” type of thing which to this day has not launched. I wanted the IGDA to take a stand on all forms of harassment. I wanted the IGDA to speak out more in general, but the organization was more interested in not alienating people/companies. Because appeasement always works so well :P

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Johanna Weststar November 13, 2013 at 10:58 am

I am an outsider so I will flag that from the start. But my background is relevant I think because I am a professor of industrial relations/labor studies who has been researching the game industry and its working conditions for the past number of years.

Discussions like this are critical within the membership of any organization as they are the life blood. Even if people don’t agree, these discussions show people care.

I think that many of Darius’ points about a ‘weaker’ organization standing in the way of the development of a stronger organization are very true. Not to say that the IGDA does not and cannot do good things, but if it continues to shy away from engaging in labor issues there are just some things that it will never be able to do for its members.

Darius, I have been writing academic papers about unionization and collective action in the video game industry and I also have a number of references to articles about union models in other industries that would actually fit well. The suggestion about looking to entities like SAG and the Writer’s Guild are bang on. This industry will never unionize on a studio-by-studio basis. An industry wide certification will be needed where membership is maintained across different employers and where the ‘wages’ are then taken out of competition. This means that each studio is facing the same basic contract and is not either better or worse off in terms of labor rules than any other studio. These unions also manage the issue of seniority vs. meritocracy which is a big stumbling block for many high-skill and driven workers (like game devs). There can be standards that still allow for individual negotiation above and beyond – but that also achieve basic equity across like groups.

The point made about the unionization of other professionals is also an important one. High skill, highly educated people have a right to have a democratic voice in their organizations and industry just the same as anyone else. ‘Professional’ workers are in a power imbalance in an employment relationship just the same as anyone else. I am from Canada and almost all of the university professors are in unions – and we are an individual, merit-oriented lot, let me tell you. In Canada the medical doctors engage in collective bargaining through their professional association. Nurses are unionized. And even some lawyers unionized when they realized their professional standards were not being protected by their employer.

So…long post – but game devs are no different than other workers and there are models of worker representation and collective action that could be brought to bear on this industry. And, though it is cliche – you are your union so you make it what you want it to be.

My email is weststar@uwo.ca if anyone wants to get in touch directly – then I can send you things to read, etc.

Currently I am working (with the IGDA) to get more data about the industry – check out a report here: http://gameqol.org

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Darius Kazemi September 4, 2013 at 4:21 pm

Ah, I misunderstood you at first.

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