Former Blizzard Entertainment dev Jeff Strain joins calls for industry unionisation
Jeff Strain is the co-founder of Undead Labs and ArenaNet, and also a former Blizzard Entertainment employee. Now he is saying that it's high time for workers in the games industry to unionize.
Strain was “disgusted and repulsed – but not at all surprised” by the recent reports about working conditions at Blizzard Entertainment according to an open letter to his employees, also published by IGN.
- Joined Blizzard in 1996 and worked on StarCraft and Diablo
- Jeff Strain was lead programmer for World of Warcraft
- Planned to leave Blizzard in 1998 following “cataclysmic meeting”
- Later founded Undead Labs and created State of Decay
- Larger companies “need to lead” on safer industry standards
Time for unions: "We need unionization," said Strain. "Unions were started in this country to protect workers from abusive, cruel, abhorrent, unacceptable, and illegal treatment from companies. That's their entire purpose.”
Role model: According to Strain, his time at Blizzard left an “indelible mark” on his life and demonstrated “how abusive cultures can propagate and self-amplify over time”. Strain thinks the larger companies set the “tone and tenor of the entire industry”, and that it must change for the industry to change.
President Leaves: The breaking news coming in just as we're publishing today is that Blizzard Entertainment president J Allen Brack is leaving the company to "pursue new opportunities."
Blizzard sent out a press release revealing the news today, highlighting that Jen Oneal and Mike Ybarra have been appointed co-leaders of Blizzard, while a different statement explains Brack's departure.
Later on this evening, Activision Blizzard will be hosting its quarterly earnings report with questions taken live from analysts and investors, of which Brack would normally be taking questions. We'll be following the call tonight to see what happens and will report back to you in tomorrow’s issue.