But the time for Rugged Individualism in gaming has passed. Winging it from company to company only means you'll end up working progressively longer hours for progressively less pay. Unless workers organize, the gaming industry is going to end up like textiles or meatpacking - shipped overseas or so rife with managerial corruption and lobbying, we'll all be making minimum wage until we're replaced for younger people capable of working longer hours. And it's already starting. Just ask ea_spouse. And in her rallying cry, we know where it all has to start.
Is our industry really so heavenly we don't need the comfortable assurance of tenure and normal work hours? Any victim of outsourcing or frequent "crunch time" is crazy to think so. No, things have swung in the direction of upper management, to the point where workers are forced to accept low pay and long hours out of fear, and it's time to bring the equilibrium back to balance. It's time to make Electronic Arts a union shop.
EA employs 2,500 people inside the U.S. They boast that none of their employees are "represented by a union, guild or other collective bargaining association." But really, why aren't they? Throughout the country, all kinds of skilled workers are part of "collective bargaining associations," be it aircraft control tower operators or automobile assembly line workers. In certain parts of the country, grocery store chains are union shops. Ever wonder why the cute old woman who's been ringing up your TV dinners and beer has been there for 15 years? It's because she can afford to be.
In ea_spouse, we had our Upton Sinclair, but we're without a Teddy Roosevelt. Without a friend in politics, we're a massive blob with no direction, no drive. Someone is going to have to step up from within to give us a figurehead. The industry is in the middle of a rockstar drought, but we need someone like the industry's founding fathers, able to capture our hearts and minds, not only with a game, but with a personality and a cause. But with corporate cultures disintegrating as bottom lines and mergers usurp artistic vision, rockstars are getting harder and harder to come by.
Pray for one to rise from the bowels of some dungeon-like cube farm. We need a savior-caliber leader to keep us together, and to keep us employed.
Joe Blancato is a Contributing Editor for The Escapist Magazine, in addition to being the Founder of waterthread.org.