A scholarly investigation into working conditions in the North American gaming industry
Motivated by the goal of understanding the labour conditions of workers in the videogame industry and their participatory power to create decent work, Not All Fun and Games is a critical examination of a global entertainment juggernaut with revenues that top film, television, and music production combined. Jobs in the industry are heralded as the vanguard of the new economy, governments offer lucrative tax credits to lure game studios to their regions, and game developers often express commitment and passion for their work. Yet, the industry is also known for its toxic workplaces.
To understand these disparities and gain insight into twenty-first-century labour conditions, Marie-Josée Legault and Johanna Weststar have carried out a comprehensive mixed-methods study of the North American industry over the past fifteen years. They combine detailed survey data from thousands of game developers with over one hundred qualitative interviews to systematically reveal labour issues such as precarity, lack of workforce diversity, unpredictable schedules, unpaid overtime, low unionization rates, worker burnout, and significant pay inequality.
Updating the theoretical concept of citizenship at work, the authors connect these labour issues to a fundamental lack of voice and representation in the workplace. They determine that videogame workers and others in contemporary project-based work environments lack agency in regulating their work and lack fundamental protections. Not All Fun and Games comprehensively documents conditions in the North American industry and highlights ways to counter workers’ lack of voice and representation in their workplaces to better create healthy, equitable, and inclusive workplaces.