Gamer Matters
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Opinion: Fuck The Studios Paying To Finish The Walking Dead

I don't care about Clementine, take care of the employees first.

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Recently, the video game community has been rocked by news of Telltale Game’s surprise shuttering. If you’re new to this, I’ll give you the cliff notes- 250 people previously working under insanely exploitative conditions are now unemployed, without any kind of severance pay for their hours of overtime.

Because nobody actually makes video games (everyone knows the invisible game fairies just print them out). The main concern has been “BUT MUH WALKING DEADS AND WOFF A-MUNGUS”.  And while not at all fair to the real lives affected by this, it’s understandable where these people are coming from. For the public, the release of the next weirdly animated Funko Pop game might just have more mental significance than 250 livelihoods. Fine.

As always though, its different once the capitalists are involved. The internet has been abuzz with news that outside parties are looking into making sure The Walking Dead gets finished. To this, there’s only one word:

Bollocks.

This “save the video game!” approach highlights a problem that’s rife with the creative industry. The Verge reports that Telltale games, even before it was forced to close its doors was poorly treating its employees with exploitative hours and unfair pay. If any company gave a damn about Telltale they’d be offering to pay the employees what they’re due, not fund another season of underpaid employees.

Remember, by funding the new season of The Walking Dead, you’re not helping the employees. One more season of The Walking Dead isn’t going to suddenly give 250 people their fair share of income or pay off all the studios debt. All a new season of The Walking Dead does is further exploit the dev team to make those least affected by the closure a few extra bucks.

In other news, the world isn’t all capitalist slimeballs and fanboys so blinded by their brand loyalty they forget that real people are burning themselves out just to not be paid their fair share. Since the closure, many studios and ex-Telltale employees have taken to using the hashtag #TelltaleJobs to help the employees secure a new gig.

Besides that, it’s been reported that Telltale Games are seeking a class-action lawsuit over violations of California labor laws to get back all the money they’re owed (Legally, Telltale should have given the employees 60 days notice before termination, and they should have been paid for that time).

While I certainly hope that the employees land back on their feet soon, this needs to stop. This culture of exploiting passionate people into working for anything less than their worth is dumb, especially when they get no protection for the blunders of their executives.

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To put it differently, its like being told to donate blood on a daily basis, only to find out that it was being carried to the hospital in cupped hands. Now you’re dizzy from blood loss, mad at the incompetent use of your sacrifice and on top of it all, out of a job.

“Potential partners”, let me speak to you in capitalist terms (seemingly, the lingua franca of the dev industry): Offer instead to pay the employees what they’re due. Not just from the 60 day closure, but, at the very least, overtime for their last projects. What you lose in money, you gain in free PR and to be eternally branded as The Good Guys. And the industry?

The industry will remember that.