Excessive and unpaid overtime, zero-hour contracts and a pervasive culture of homophobia and sexism - these are the three top issues to be tackled by a new video games industry branch of the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB).

The new union branch, Games Workers Unite, will be the first of its kind in the UK - despite the fact the video games industry is one of the country's fastest-growing sectors, with approximately 47,000 people now involved.

Now is a great time for this in particular after the spotlight was recently shone on the working practices at Red Dead Redemption 2 developer Rockstar Games, which employs hundreds of people in the UK.

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As part of Eurogamer's investigation into Rockstar's crunch culture, I spoke with numerous people at Rockstar Lincoln, a studio with more than two hundred people focused entirely on Quality Assurance (QA) - and who seemed to be some of the worst off.

Indeed, the IWGB's statement says it will look to tackle "the use of excessive, often unpaid overtime, commonly referred to as 'crunch', where some workers have been reported to work as much as 100 hours a week" and "the use of zero-hour contracts, especially among QA testers". It sounds directly targeted at Rockstar's 100-hour week controversy.

The IWGB also wants to tackle "the industry's lack of diversity and inclusion, as well as its failure to tackle the pervasive culture of homophobia and sexism".

Games Workers Unite will meet for the first time this Sunday, 16th December, amid preparations for hundreds of expected sign-ups over the next few months.

"The game workers' decision to unionise with the IWGB should be a wake up call for the UK's gaming industry," IWGB general secretary Dr Jason Moyer-Lee said. "The IWGB is proud to support these workers and looks forward to shining a massive spotlight on the industry." Sounds good to me.

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Tom Phillips

Tom Phillips

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