Independent Games Festival starts with sober message on game industry layoffs

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Independent Games Festival starts with sober message on game industry layoffs
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The Independent Games Festival opened on a sober note in recognition of layoffs in the game industry.

Shawn Pierre, chairperson of the Independent Games Festival, opened the show with his own views about the lack of respect for talented game developers.

“I really, really admire all of you. And I know many of you feel the same admiration for each other. And that’s why it’s been so difficult. It’s really difficult to see our peers not treated with the respect they deserve. We’ve already seen thousands of people losing work this year because they’re not being valued the way they should be.”

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After he said that, Pierre got applause from the thousands of people in the audience at the awards event for the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco.

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“People are working overtime and on weekends, only to be left behind after a game is completed. It’s unhealthy. It’s certainly not sustainable. And the end result of this is a weaker gaming industry for all of us. And to be clear, this lack of respect exists all throughout the game industry in many different forms, from the billion-dollar companies to the smaller independent studios from inside and outside the games industry,” Pierre said. “Between the countless announcements of layoffs, we’re also reading too many stories of how people are being systematically pushed out of the games industry, rather than being empowered or recognized for their contribution. They’re being made to feel like they don’t belong, that the work that they’re doing is not significant. This is beyond unacceptable, and change is well overdue.”

Pierre’s words were in contrast to other awards events — The Game Awards in particular — that made no mention of record layoffs in the industry. (Recently, Geoff Keighley, organizer of The Game Awards, tweeted about Amir Satvat and his solutions for finding people jobs in gaming.

Pierre said he said these things because he wanted everyone to be better in every way possible.

“We should be an industry that pushes each other forward while rejecting everything that holds us back. This is supposed to be one of the most successful industries in the world,” he said. “And it’s time that we act. Your coworkers or colleagues, the people here in this room, they are people who deserve to be thought of first not last. So regardless if a nominee wins tonight, celebrate. Even if you’re not nominated for an award tonight, you deserve to be celebrated. And when the night is over, let’s carry on the celebration. This celebration of our perseverance as an engine of an industry, of our creativity as artists, storytellers and developers and let’s continue to treat each other well and to demand to be treated the way we know it should be.”



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