Veteran Blizzard Dev and Undead Labs Founder urges Videogame Industry to “Unionize” in Open Letter

Adiba Chowdhury
By Adiba Chowdhury
3 Min Read
Credit: Undead Labs

In response to the ongoing Activision Blizzard Lawsuit, veteran developer Jeff Strain has urged the employees in the industry to unionize.

Jeff Strain is a former Blizzard developer and also the co-founder of ArenaNet, in addition to being the founder of Undead Labs. He has worked on the original Diablo games and briefly served as the team leader for World of Warcraft. He is the creator of the State of Decay survival horror franchise.

In an open letter, Strain responded to the lawsuit filed against Activision Blizzard for misconduct. Recalling his past experience in the company, Strain made remarks of not finding the accusations too surprising. Moreover, he also expressed that he felt both “disgusted” and “repulsed” after learning the details of the lawsuit. Furthermore, He recalled the incident that served as the last straw for leaving Blizzard. He stated:

“In 1998, after a cataclysmic meeting with one of the founders over our objections to dismembered and impaled female body parts in the beta version of Diablo, my wife and I began planning to leave Blizzard. Ultimately, I joined with a few like-minded colleagues and moved a thousand miles away from the Blizzard sphere of influence to start an independent studio.”

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Need for Unionization

He then went on to explain how the videogame industry fosters a “bro culture” that encourages workplace abuse that self-amplifies over time. Moreover, he also spoke of his own attempts at creating a work environment that is more decent and free from toxicity.

However, he emphasizes how his efforts alone cannot change the bigger issues going on in the industry as a whole. He then leans on towards the importance of Unions and how they are created to protect employees against such cases of abuse. He stated:

“We need unionization.

Unions were started in this country to protect workers from abusive, cruel, abhorrent, unacceptable, and illegal treatment from companies. That’s their entire purpose. If this week does not show us that our industry colleagues — even the most entry-level QA tester — need true support and baseline protection, I can’t imagine how much worse it will have to get.”

In order to encourage the people into joining Unions, he pledged his full support and endorsement to industry-wide adoption of unions. Furthermore, he also asked the industry leaders to join him in his task of advocating for unionization.

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By Adiba Chowdhury Deputy Evergreen Editor
Adiba Chowdhury is the Deputy Editor of the Evergreen section at GameRiv. Adiba is an avid gamer, artist, and anime lover. She expresses her love for RPGs, JRPGs, and Action Adventure games by writing about evergreen titles with lasting impressions for GameRiv.