Game Workers Uniting for Better Workplaces

Interview

In creative industries labour exploitation can happen because employers can get away with leaning into the passion creative workers bring to their field. The video game industry may be a young industry, but the tricks of getting free labour from workers are old ones. As a result, movements like Game Workers Unite have popped up to help video game workers get the respect they deserve.

Recently workers at Activision created the largest video game union and in Canada a union has been formed at a game service company. This is the beginning of a larger movement in the industry which is great to see. Professor Johanna Weststar has looked into why this is happening now:

We can trace the history of game worker resistance to see some of these fluctuations. Examples include the Easter Egg planted by programmer Warren Robinett in Atari’s Adventure, the brief formation of a virtual union called UbiFree in France in 1998 and the infamous EA Spouse affair in 2004.

The shine is coming off the rhetoric of “passion” that reinforces individualism, valorizes heroic efforts for the sake of the game and promotes worker alignment with employer interests.

Read more.

Thanks to Roger!

Play the Trolley Problem in Dr. Trolley’s Problem

Long time readers of Things Are Good will know that I like philosophy and moral actions. In fact I like that stuff so much I made a game about it called Dr. Trolley’s Problem which is all about the trolley problem which we’ve previously looked at.

The game tests your moral fortitude. Dr. Trolley’s Problem brings the classic philosophical quandaries of the trolley problem to life and asks you to make life or death decisions on the fly. Explore your moral fiber in ways you never imagined (or asked for)! I’ve created 50 situations that are all based on the famous trolley problem, with more coming.

Dr. Trolley’s problem is available for both Mac and PC.Check it out.

Violent Video Games can be Good

Violent video games get attacked a lot. Media and news companies are quick to blame the influence video games have on youth to be the reason that youth commit acts of violence. This is not the case though. Every year there is more evidence that it’s not true that violent entertainment leads to real-world violence. In fact, it can be stingily argued that playing violent video games can be a good thing in your life.

First, an international research team from the USA and Canada found that by playing a game together we can change attitudes of players towards others. They had people kill zombies with someone who the player thought was from the States (and in the USA they thought they were playing with a Canadian).

The research concluded that having people play with someone they thought was from another country increased player’s opinion of people from said country.

Read more.

Games for Women

Some entrepreneurs in Vancouver have discovered that there are not enough games designed specifically for women and they are looking to change that.

As a game designer myself, I think that this is a great thing to see!

Few mainstream video games are made — or marketed — with women in mind, even though nearly 40 per cent of video game players in the United States and Canada are female. The likely reason? Few women are actually designing the games.

Brenda Bailey Gershkovitch and Kirsten Forbes hope to ride to the rescue. Last July, the two Vancouverites launched Silicon Sisters, the first game development studio in the country owned and run by women. It is unique in its mission to design games for young girls from a female perspective.

Their first game, School 26, launches in early spring on computer and portable Mac devices. It’s a role-playing game in which players act as a high school student who helps peers with personal and school-related problems.

Read the rest of the article.

Thanks Stewy!

Device Helps Paralyzed Regain Hand Control

People who have been paralyzed (from a stroke or spinal injury) now have a new tool to help them regain control over their hands and arms thanks to a Canadian researcher. A wand that stimulates muscles using electricity combined with a video game has produced impressive results.

“We can now offer people with spinal cord injury and stroke continued therapy for many weeks in their homes,” said the device’s designer, Arthur Prochazka.

Physiotherapist Su Ling Chong works with patients for an hour each day. Using a videoconferencing link, she sees and talks to them and is able to gauge their progress accurately.

“We get the user to go through the range [of movement], and it actually records how strong their grip is, how much their range is, and then from there we can modify the games to challenge them even more.”

People with serious injuries, like paralysis, should speak with Neinstein and Associates, the best personal injury lawyers in Toronto.

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