Change We Can Believe In
The International Game Developers Association could be a force for positive change in the industry - but first it needs to change itself. Matthew Sakey highlights a few key areas where the IGDA needs reform.
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The IGDA has also published some great books. My elbow is currently resting on Professional Techniques for Video Game Writing, produced by the IGDA's Game Writing Special Interest Group.
By the way, the link to Culture Clash at the end of the article has a typo in the URL.
Great article, I'd love to see some of these points get some attention within IGDA. The kick to the nuts the organization got with the Langdell case got it pointed in the right direction on the road of change, but it still has a long way to go...
If the IGDA is so vital, then riddle me this: why haven't they done a damn thing about Australia's ridiculous lack of an R18 rating? Oh they don't have enough power do things like that? One more reason why they shouldn't exist: no power to bring changes that are needed.
The International Game Developers Association could be a force for positive change in the industry - but first it needs to change itself.
Exactly how are they gonna do this without interference from the mega publishers? Take Two, Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo, Blizzard/Activision...
I'm sure these big wigs enjoy the freedom in laying off workers once a game has completed development. They wouldn't just sit by and allow a serious union to form...
Actually...scratch that. Not every developer would join IGDA...and given the current technological feats we have...where developers from the east can divvy up certain assignments for others in the west, I don't think there is a real threat of boycott...
Hi everyone, thanks for enjoying the article.
Hansari: understand, the IGDA is a professional society, NOT a union. It isn't a union, can't become a union, and doesn't want to anyway. A lot of people compare the IGDA to the Screen Actors Guild, which is a bad idea; SAG is a union. Huge difference.
As to how it can accomplish things without interference from publishers, you're quite right, it would be a serious issue. Publishers are the big kids on the block, they wield immense power, and they're generally not very nice to developers, whom the IGDA represents. The key is greater individual membership and a recognition from Board members that if they happen to sit on the IGDA Board and work for a publisher, they're serving two masters who'll almost certainly be at odds sooner or later.
It all comes down to money. The more money the IGDA has, the more ability it has to accomplish things and provide services to the developer community. Money comes from membership. IGDA has no executive power, it's not the MPAA. Only through increased membership - i.e., representing the majority - can it leverage its views.
It seems to me that the biggest way the IGDA can make a difference is through direct benefits to its members (such as the subsidized legal services idea mentioned in the article). I really don't see how how any of the other proposed changes would do anything since the IGDA doesn't have the bargaining power a union does. An angry letter from the IGDA condemning Kotick is still going to be an empty gesture, even if every developer in the industry is a member.
I wouldn't call it empty, though I agree that it wouldn't have any enforceability the way a union does. The IGDA does have press contacts and so forth; condemning Kotick openly and in the press might affect his business and then get him to think a little more about what he says. Of course one frustrating thing that - as gamers ourselves - we all understand, is that Kotick could feast on the entrails of kittens and people wouldn't stop buying stuff published by Activision/Blizzard. Still, I think it's important for the IGDA to make a public stand on such things, even if they are merely statements of position.
I'm not against the IGDA making public statements on this sort of thing; I just don't think it will do as much to further their goals as directly supporting their members would. The media will pick up on stories like Kotick's remark anyway, and an official censure by the IGDA won't do much more than add an extra line at the end of the article.
Now, if the IGDA were the one bringing issues like this to the attention of the media it'd be a different story.