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The Gaming Industry | Start Here

Let’s talk about the gaming industry.

Hundreds of millions of people around the world will be unboxing

video games and downloading new updates this week

adding billions of dollars to an industry that’s already richer

than both the global box office and the music business combined.

But the huge success of video games

has come at a cost to many people who make them.

So what’s happening to the workers behind the screen?

It’s pretty incredible, really, just how massive this industry is

and how much it’s evolved over the decades.

This was Nimatron, the very first game machine

that debuted in New York in 1940.

Fast forward to the archade games of the 70s

home gaming consoles, computer games in the 80s and 90s

online gaming at the turn of the century

and now mobile gaming and e-sports

where full-time, professional gamers fill stadiums

and earn millions, yes, millions of dollars.

Let’s wrap our heads around some numbers.

In 2016, a third of the world’s population were video gaming

that’s two and a half billion people.

In 2017, more than 660 million people watched other people play video games

on platforms like Twitch and Youtube.

In 2018, the gaming industry made at least 130 billion dollars.

And this is a business that’s still growing by about 10 percent a year.

That’s a pretty exciting industry for aspiring animators, developers

and coders to want to be part of.

And staff salaries for developers are a lot higher than your average job.

In the US, a developer can earn around $100,000 a year.

In India it’s about 500,000 rupees or $6.000 a year

a lot higher than the average person’s $2.000 yearly salary.

You know I am so glad I got into game design

it’s cool to be able to create the kind of games that we play.

And 2019 was the year we found out just how big a price

people pay to be part of the world’s biggest entertainment industry.

Crunch culture is still a huge issue in the industry.

It’s when workers are put under enormous pressure to work

overtime in order to meet game launch deadlines.

Before the studio Treyarch released “Call of Duty: Black Ops 4” last year

some testers said that “crunch time” involved working

70-hours a week for weeks on end.

The gaming website Kotaku, says some of those guys

earned only 13 dollars an hour, while Black Ops

made about 500 million dollars in just a few days.

“This multiplayer mode is super fun, dude.”

Some testers working on Fortnite, another massive

and free online game, also reported 70-hour working weeks.

And what happens a lot is that after a launch

many workers are laid off.

Kevin just mentioned women

and they have major concerns about the gaming work culture.

As many as a billion gamers are thought to be women

and only 19% of the industry’s staff are female

Ever since the #MeToo movement, more and more women

are coming forward with allegations of rape and harassment.

We spoke to one designer who even made a game

about what it was like to be a woman in the industry.

In 2014 a scandal known as ‘Gamergate’ consumed the gaming world.

It was a huge online culture war about a lot of things but at the heart of it

was the treatment of women in a male-dominated industry.

At the time, a developer named Zoe Quinn

and others received rape and death threats.

So much so that even the FBI was called in to investigate.

People like feminist media critic Anita Sarkeesian

came under pretty heavy fire for posting this:

came under pretty heavy fire for posting this:

extremely toxic, patronising, and paternalistic attitudes about women.

Workers have been trying to unionise to demand things

like better pay, and fair treatment by gaming studios.

But it’s not been easy.

That conference triggered an online movement called #GameWorkersUnite

and it’s now an international organisation

whose mission even has the backing of US presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders.

So is the industry doing anything right?

So is the industry doing anything right?

Gaming studios, including Treyarch, which we spoke about earlier

say they are trying to reduce the crunch culture.

The GameWorkersUnite movement has formally been accepted

into the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain.

And some companies like Blizzard Entertainment and EA

also made Glassdoor’s 100 best US companies to work for in 2018

although EA fell off that list in 2019.

For consumers and developers, there’s a lot to look forward to

and the hope is that as this industry grows and rakes in billions more

gaming workers will reap the benefits of a business that

at the heart of it, is meant to be about fun.