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11/29/2007

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Andrew Cory

How would a game writer strike work, exactly? TV/Movie producers are feeling the effects _immediately_, a game developer's strike would have to last at least 6 months for me to clear out the backlog of games I want to play but haven't gotten to yet...

gamasutra podcast

That the WGA has any bargaining power at all is rooted in a generally acknowledged contribution of the discipline of screen writing, and in the solidarity among the various crafts and trades that contribute to filmmaking. In human terms, the people who make games would have to muster enough faith in themselves and their craft to risk their livelihoods, and then have to aggregate enough collective leverage to force publishers to compensate them with some kind of residual. Perhaps the more important question is, how much value do game developers themselves assign to the role of a game designer? Given the term, "game design" is so nebulous, it is difficult to even frame the question.

Unions aside, in the face of such a push, publishers would likely ask how much subjective quality game designers bring to the table measured by an objective response based on product sales. The answer to date wouldn't look good. (Please note: I don't think that sales equate quality by any measure. But that's a whole other topic.) :)

Still, in my opinion, the real justification of residual revenue has a lot to do with that value proposition. I don't think we are there yet. In the early days of film, frequently the director was the writer, and the cinematographer, and the editor all rolled into one. Admittedly, in games we are further along in the specialization of disciplines than that. But not far enough along to define the contribution of each specialized discipline in game development. In my opinion, we're still at a point where a lack of technical standards and the technical barriers to produce a game preclude a separation of game production from creative content.

Still, there are some interesting implications for game development. Two years ago, the big domestic game publishers beat back efforts from SAG to establish residuals for signatory talent who do voiceover work for games. However, there's nothing saying they won't try again. Likewise, the WGA has been public about wanting to cover game writing. (See this article in Variety for additional commentary.) Perhaps the impetus for developers to bargain collectively with publishers will come from contributing bodies who also create content for games.

By the way, I think Jordan's a cool dude. :)

Liz

Thank goodness for the actors who stick by these writers. It's pure greed that is keeping this strike going and I wish the writers all the best. Stay strong!

New games come out all the time. Yes, gamers would have to stop creating in time to disrupt Xmas. I suppose the power would have to come with the initial contracting of a new game. The genre of Rap was new once and those pioneers weren't making money. Give it time, everything shifts.

ArC

"If game designers went on strike, would anyone care?"

Yes, people would. Specifically, wannabe scabs would care.

Stray_Neutrino

"How would a game writer strike work, exactly? TV/Movie producers are feeling the effects _immediately_, a game developer's strike would have to last at least 6 months for me to clear out the backlog of games I want to play but haven't gotten to yet..."

Don't forget, as well, that TV is episodic. Depending on the showing, it usually once a week (unless in syndication), so they need to create content EVERY SINGLE WEEK. Tied into that is the money coming from advertisers.

This is why game writer strike would not be the same thing as what we are seeing in Hollywood. We don't have NEAR the money tied up into 22 minutes of airtime.

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