Unfortunately, the skepticism could be justified. Right now, it’s hard to imagine a guild of video game workers accumulating the power and influence of Hollywood guilds. If Hollywood had emerged as an economic and cultural force at another point in American history, it’s hard to imagine that writers, actors, and techies had the power and solidarity to become actors there. also dominant. As historian Michael Denning argues in The cultural front, the growth of the guilds and the successful collective bargaining deals with the studios occurred against the backdrop of the “work of American culture” – this was a time when a nationwide mass left anti-fascist political movement coincided. with the industrialization of certain “creative” industries and the emergence of a new “plebeian” generation of artists. While IATSE dates back to the theater of the 19th century, Creative Guilds (SAG and WGA) were organized and seized power, during a period of mass unionization, spurred by a new intellectual energy around the organization of professionals. and changes in the law that made such organization possible. “It was the union organizing prairie fire sparked by Roosevelt’s National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933, with his declaration of labor rights to representatives of his choosing,” writes Denning, “that rekindled unionism. of the cultural industry. SAG was formed in 1933 and the Screen Writers Guild won an election to the National Labor Relations Board in 1938.
The nostalgia for this time is understandable but probably unnecessary. The power of the Hollywood guilds shows us a past to remember, but difficult to reproduce. Even in heavily unionized Hollywood, there are worrying trends: While IATSE is an international union, major studio productions now routinely escape high Hollywood labor costs (and the strong US dollar) by filming. abroad. And the movie industry hasn’t completely avoided the problems of the video game industry. Because the period in which computer graphics became an essential component of filmmaking took place long after the era of worker radicalism described by Denning, Hollywood special effects studios never developed a strong union. (Instead, they formed a professional trade association.)
And now special effects houses are remarkably treated like video game studios, supposed to do their highly technical and complex work under difficult deadlines. The results aren’t quite as dire as in video games, but the lack of the kind of labor regulation that, for example, make-up and costume artist-workers enjoy, through their union, is evident. the same way in big budget movies. it’s in the games. The film adaptation of the musical by Tom Hooper Cats was released in 2019. It was a critical and financial bombshell, in large part because of the grotesque design of the partially computer-animated cat-actor hybrids, and the fact that the film was released with glitchy and incomplete computer effects. In this regard, Cats looks like an early vision of a world in which Hollywood’s business practices come to resemble those of video games, instead of the other way around: incomplete versions of films, released with glaring technical flaws resulting from poor management of non-unionized workplaces. This was possibly the first tentpole movie that would have been patched on day one.
As measured in the polls, Americans feel more supportive of unions now than they have in years. Given the few Americans who belong to it, the problem remains to translate this generic support into public pressure. Stories in Tap Reset suggest an argument: Labor advocates could harness the incredible online energy of angry gamers by arguing that a new era of mass organizing wouldn’t just be good for video game makers, it would be good for them. games themselves.