It is clear that within the video game industry, one of the biggest debates in recent years has been the how to deal with working conditions and the work environment. Cases like the crunch, sexual harassment or draconian conditions that many of the large companies in the sector still maintain, regardless of their origin, are the order of the day.
Moreover, from 2018 and the creation of the first union of workers in the video game industry Game Workers Unite!, their crusades against corporate abuses have been heard around the globe, such as the manifesto calling for the head of Bobby Kotick. But today we are talking about a company that not only does not recognize unionization, but also fires anyone who even mentions the issue among its ranks. We speak in this case of Nintendo.
In an exclusive interview with Axios, Mackenzie Clifton, a former employee of Aston Carter (a subsidiary company in the US by Nintendo), and on whose projects Clifton worked as a tester of the Mario company’s games, assures that he lost his job because he made a asks during a press conference about Nintendo’s position on unions. Clifton’s question was not addressed in the meeting. But later that day, according to Clifton, a company supervisor called them saying it was a “depressing question” and advising them to direct those questions to their own company, not Nintendo. A few weeks later, and under the guise of “publication of secrets” for a vague tweet and a totally red screen, he was fired. Four years of brilliant work thrown away by an inopportune question.
After Clifton’s complaint to the NLRB came to light, dozens of people spoke out on social media and in the press, claiming that Nintendo is relegating hundreds of crucial workers from its game testing, customer service, and gaming teams. and even from writing games to precarious and stressful temporary agreements. Even some of the best workers say full-time conversions are rare.
Amid these comments have surfaced allegations of workplace misconduct, which Nintendo has internally told its workers that it takes seriously, but neither Nintendo nor its contracting companies have spoken publicly about the widespread use of contractors by the company.
According to the Axios articleIn mid-2014 the intention of some Nintendo customer service contractors to unionize fizzled out after their management company found out about it (neither Nintendo nor the company commented on the matter when asked).
Regardless of whether or not there is an ethical reading of the matter, the video game industry is larger, more varied and in the public domain than it has ever been, and the future of the entire business model lies in finding the balance between workers and employers .