Rotten Behind The Scenes
I love video games. Growing up, I’ve seen first-hand the rise this industry has experienced from relative obscurity on the Amiga consoles through to its global dominance today as a multi-billion dollar enterprise. Back for another slice of Patriot Act, Hasan Minhaj sheds light on the shady side of video games, an industry with some serious blood on its hands.
We begin with a look at the e-sport culture and the recent announcement that a Fortnite player took home 3 million dollars. This progresses through to the explosion of live streaming and how Twitch has changed the way people interact with (and play) video games. I’ve seen this with my own eyes, as my 9 year old son is engrossed watching his favourite Youtubers playing Fifa and The Sims.
One of the biggest problems video gaming faces right now though comes from what’s referred to as “Crunch Culture”. This gruelling, despicable period of time sees workers forced to clock in hundreds of hours every week, sometimes months at a time, to meet deadlines decided by CEOs. While the attitude of gamers is slowly shifting, with one recent article from Rockstar about crunch meeting hostility, the industry has a long, long way to go before this stops completely.
While the episode does brush over the microtransaction model a little, it’s a crucial aspect of understanding these lay-offs, as it feeds into the capitalistic model of companies hungry for larger profit margins to ride that wave of good faith across the stock market. Instead of looking further into gambling mechanics (which various Youtubers and articles have already covered) Hasan looks instead at the idea of unionisation and protecting its workers.
Combining the usual comedy and quick wit you’d expect from Patriot Act, Hasan adds some smartly written humour to affairs, including a hilarious skit involving the graphics team and a well written segment involving Fortnite and talking to streamers about worker’s rights.
Jokes aside, when you get down to the heart of this issue, the video game industry is rotten to its core. The vaccine to this may well lie in unionisation and strict legislation to gambling mechanics in games. Until that happens however, the industry will forever have that black cloud of deceit hanging over it and its something a lot more people should be aware of.