Jan 20, 2022 - Technology

Most video game companies not addressing toxicity, survey finds

Bing Guan/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Photo: Bing Guan/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Employees say most video game companies are not addressing misconduct and toxicity directly with their employees, according to a new survey.

Driving the news: Games Developers Conference (GDC) organizers released their 10th edition of the State of the Game Industry on Thursday, an annual survey that takes the temperature of developers across the industry.

  • This year’s survey polled more than 2,700 developers and covered a wide berth of topics, from platform development to unionization and workplace conditions.

Following last year’s explosion of scandals, 62% of respondents said their companies did nothing to engage with conversations around misconduct and toxicity.

  • The survey notes that many respondents claim their companies “don’t have those problems” — some because their studios were too small, they weren’t based in the U.S., their company had a “zero-tolerance” policy, or it wasn’t something they’ve witnessed.

Yes, but: According to the survey, 38% of respondents said employers did take action, in a trend of a “growing number of workplaces in the industry have taken at least some initiative to root out toxicity.”

What they're saying: A sampling of anonymous responses from developers falls across the board, with some claiming it's a "very North American focus," and others taking umbrage with their own leadership's responses.

  • "They bury it and pretend it isn’t a problem and act like they are different. There continue to be people harassed and silenced. They are quietly forced to leave while the harassers are promoted and protected.”
  • “I’ve had to force them to make internal statements. We were affected directly by the Blizzard misconduct and still we opted to say nothing. My faith in big companies to do the ‘right’ thing is non-existent.”
  • “No one is surprised by the misconduct. We’ve all seen it or experienced it in some form in our career. Our company spoke to working harder to do better. They’ve started creating classes and inviting speakers to help inform and educate people.”

Elsewhere: The focus on unionization continues to grow, but few developers believe it's possible for the game industry.

  • According to the survey, 23% of developers polled said union talks have taken place at their studio.
  • “It’s desperately needed, the last year of headlines should prove that," one respondent said.
  • 55% of respondents said game industry workers should unionize, an increase from 51% in 2021.

However, there's still resistance from some developers:

  • “It will destroy games. Making games is intrinsically hard. ... I’m not saying that it needs to be cruel, but if you aren’t paying with blood, sweat, and tears, you probably aren’t hitting your real ambitions. True genius has a price.”
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