And here I thought working at a videogame production studio was all fun and games. It is certainly depicted that way. Apparently it is far from that, however. According to Nina Huntemann, working for a videogame studio is not only mentally and physically challenging for the person who is working there, but is also very trying on their spouse or partner. The people who work for these companies will often work enormous amounts of overtime to meet deadlines. It’s an interesting read, because it gives us a glimpse not only into the lives of videogame developers, but also demonstrates how important it is for people who have ties to the gaming industry, whether they be workers or consumers, to speak out towards the gaming industry about things that need to be changed.
When the article was written in 2010, the artists and programmers who work for the gaming industry had not unionized. The hours that they were forced to work to churn out videogames were obscene, which kept them from seeing their families. The overtime was often unpaid. The workers often suffered declining physical and mental health, a drop in morale, and their salaries did not reflect an increase in the cost of living. The people who work at videogame studios are most often young, white, heterosexual, and male. The hours they work keep them from forming too many attachments outside of the office. This led a woman who called herself “EA Spouse” to post a letter online voicing her complaints about the industry and worries for her husband. Later, in 2010, another woman taking the name “Rockstar Spouse” wrote a similar letter, again voicing complaints about a studio’s mistreatment of its workers, this time Rockstar San Diego.
Huntemann does not go into how effective the letters of Rockstar Spouse and EA Spouse are, whether they resulted in any change or even an acknowledgement by the companies they are targeting. She does, however, delve into the overall importance of the letters. Not only do they highlight some of the most disturbing problems plaguing the gaming industry, and alerts potential employees of the companies about the poor working conditions. The turnover for employees is incredible. Eventually, if things don’t change, it will be harder and harder for companies to even be able to find and hire good employees because of the negative press. People will not want to work for the companies that have particularly bad reputations, which will result in a loss of quality and a decrease in sales.
Huntemann, through the actions of EA spouse and Rockstar Spouse, shows how important it is for the consumer, worker, or spouse to speak up about the things that they don’t like in the gaming industry. Complaints may not result in immediate change, but it may help raise awareness and cause others to voice similar issues. Once enough people get behind an idea, the industry will either have to change or face the possibility of losing customers.