Fustian Future

Funnily enough, whenever I come back to the blog to write up a new post, one of the first things that jumps out at me is the monthly archives posts over on the right which I have to scroll past to reach the ‘site admin’ button. Whilst in my head I know fine well that we’ve been going for three and a half years now, it is another thing entirely to see all those months collecting up in the sidebar. Going back to some of the early posts still makes me laugh, as we’ve certainly come a long way since then.

It’s with that in mind though that I’m throwing up a link to Fustian Future, a relatively new (3 months or so) indie developer whom I know via The Chaos Engine (hang out for games industry folks from all over). Yacine Salmi, the one man team behind Fustian, is of course far more dedicated to updating his blog than I wasam, so there’s a lot more to read over there. He’s mixing up the regular indie developer chat with some interesting stuff on new and potential technologies, and more general games industry stuff. In particular I’d point you to this post on a GDC talk/round-table on unions in the games industry that sadly won’t come to pass. It’s certainly raised some interest on the Chaos Engine forums as it’s a contentious subject; however pretty much everyone is open to more discussion on the issues, so it’s sad to note that it won’t go ahead. GDC organisers take note – this is one more voice suggesting that you do the talk next year!

That being said, I’m always torn on the unionising issue. It’s been done to death on the TCE forums, and very little new gets said about it. There are a few (quite vocal) advocates of unions as a serious answer to the issues of overworking, crunch and general poor employee rights that plague some of the larger (and not so large) studios. There are others who a) don’t see the value in a union, b) don’t trust any of the existing unions to properly represent our issues, and c) don’t think that game-developers on the whole are the sort of people who would organise into a union.

But there is a definite chicken and egg problem, which the discussions we have make readily apparent. Most game-developers have little to no knowledge of unions, so their objections are rarely based on informed choice. There is no union which caters specifically for games developers, although several of the more general ones would happily expand to cover the industry (BECTU being the most obvious choice). By and large though, not enough employees at games studios are members for the union to actually properly represent them, so no-one can relate stories of how being a union member was obviously advantageous. Because there is no anecdotal evidence that being in a union is useful, not enough employees join. And so on.

At this point in the discussions, the cry is usually “why don’t you just join and start the ball rolling”, which for me is equally frustrating. Of course, I am in fact management, and not just an employee. So it doesn’t make sense for me to be a union member. And my team, not being generally mistreated, feels no need to join a union either. Many of the voices on the TCE forums echo similar stories. Those employees who might actually benefit are the ones that need to be persuaded by the discussions, and for some reason they are absent from the debate. So while I’m still ambivalent about the idea of unions in general, I’m keen to see the idea discussed more widely and openly amongst developers, so the people who could benefit may consider it an option, or discount it as unsuitable once they know the facts!

3 Responses to “Fustian Future”

  1. crap Says:

    Before saying anything else: your wordpress is (probably) setup completely wrong.

    A) you should NOT be allowing any random person to register an account, in 99% of cases it’s not a feature you want, and it’s been a source of WordPress hacks a number of times
    B) you shouldn’t need to force people to have an account before they can comment; if you’re worried about spam use akisment or spam karma.

  2. crap Says:

    Anyway, the comment I was going to leave originally:

    You appear to have just staked out your personal bias in the Unions debate 😛 – you forgot Option d (or hid it inside option a):

    d) believe the problems can be/will be/are solved better without a union

  3. MrCranky Says:

    I’m glad you qualified that with a “probably”. I think the blog is set up just fine thank you very much. We also use Akismet, although obviously that’s not apparent from the outside.

    As for your comment, I think that it’s pretty clear that if you think that problems are better solved without a union that you don’t see the value in it. So I stand by my list.

    Of course there is an element of personal bias – as I say in the post, facts relevant to our case are few and far between, which only leaves personal opinions as a reason for decision making. It would be foolish to discount unionisation as a means to address the issues we have based on personal bias, just as it would be foolish to assume that unionisation would solve all of our problems.

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Last modified: February 06 2020.