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12 Dec 2023

Worker Empowerment and Unionization in Games – A Global Panel and Organizer Workshop

Worker Empowerment and Unionization in Games - A Global Panel and Organizer Workshop


Developers around the world have faced many challenges this year. Massive layoffs, mental health struggles, the list goes on.

At IGDA, we’re constantly  collaborating with organizations and finding ways to best support our diverse community. One topic that has emerged frequently in these conversations is how game developers can work together to support and empower one another in their place of work.

On 12 December from 12 – 2PM CST, IGDA is hosting the Worker Empowerment and Unionization in Games panel to elevate developer awareness of worker empowerment opportunities that support achieving a fulfilling and sustainable career in games.

This global panel and organizer workshop will highlight opportunities for developers to collectively organize and ensure safe and inclusive work environments for themselves and their colleagues. In collaboration with the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and UNI Global Union, the event will bring together representatives from various unionization efforts to share what organizing among game developers looks like around the world.

The panel will include Ilyasah Ellison from ZeniMax, Pierre-Étienne Marx and Antoine B from STJV, and Sarah Elmaleh from SAG-AFTRA. Erin Mahoney from CWA and I will serve as co-moderators. The panel will last one hour, followed by a one hour organizer training facilitated by CWA (focused on organizing in North America) and UNI Global Union (focused on globally applicable organizing principles).

You may register for the event here. We hope to see you there!


Register Today!

About the Panelists:

Sarah Elmaleh
Games Actor/Director, Collabelation, Inc.
Interactive Negotiating Committee Chair, SAG-AFTRA
Bio: Sarah Elmaleh is an actor and voice director specializing in games, and serves as Chair of SAG-AFTRA’s Interactive Negotiating Committee. Best known for roles in AAA games like Hi-Fi Rush, Halo Infinite and Gears 5, and for indies like Afterparty, Pyre and Gone Home, her directing credits likewise span production scope from Goodbye Volcano High to Fortnite. Fueled by the belief that career sustainability and deep collaboration, at scale, are the key to a thriving games industry, she has spent years advising, connecting and educating on performance best practices and labor issues.

Ilyasah Ellison
QA Tester, ZeniMax Media, Inc.
Mobilizing Committee and Advisory Council Member of ZWU (ZeniMax Workers United)
Bio: Ilyasah is a QA Tester located at ZeniMax’s Rockville,MD location. She was a Contract QA for 9 months before becoming a full-time employee now approaching 2 years. Having been an Organizing Committee member for ZWU in its early stages, she is now focused on aiding and participating in the union’s mobilizing efforts.

Antoine B
Game Designer, Spiders
Member, STJV
Bio: Game Designer with a wide background in media. Workers’ representative, and active member of the STJV working on international relations, workers’ representation, strikes organising and public relations.

Pierre-Étienne Marx
Technical Director, Narration, Ubisoft
Bio: Technical Designer with a background in physics and CS. Representative at the Ubisoft Paris studio, and active member of the STJV focusing on international relations, workers’ representation and public relations. No family relations that I know of to that other guy called Marx.

Moderator: Erin Mahoney
Assistant Director of Organizing, Communications Workers of America
Erin Mahoney is the Assistant Director of Organizing for the Communications Workers of America. CWA’s Campaign to Organize Digital Employees is a union movement of over 4000 worker-organizers fighting to build the voice and power necessary to ensure the future of the tech, games, and digital industries in the U.S. and Canada. Mahoney has over 20 years of union organizing experience across many sectors; recently organizing with workers at Activision-Blizzard, Ebay, EveryAction and Mobilize.

Moderator: Dr. Jakin Vela
Executive Director, IGDA
Dr. Jakin Vela (he/him) serves as the Executive Director of the International Game Developers Association (IGDA). He is a sociologist and researcher focused on socio-technical cultures, minority stress, stigma, and diversity inclusion in tech (especially games and the games industry). His work highlights the effects of marginalization, group solidarity, and inclusion in virtual gaming spaces and organizational structures, especially among underrepresented groups.




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