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Former Nintendo Boss Weighs In On Union Debate

Pretty much since the medium's inception, the video game industry has been a sort of Wild West as far regulations are concerned. Up until recently, the idea of unionization and collective bargaining on behalf of employees at smaller studios under larger corporate umbrellas was a completely foreign one and had never been executed in any kind of significant way. That all changed on May 23 when Activision Blizzard subsidiary Raven Software made history by becoming the first major game studio with an official union recognized by the US National Labor Relations Board.

This monumental moment sent shockwaves through the community and could create a new standard for how video game development is viewed from a labor point of view. While most major video game corporations have remained tight lipped on the situation, many prominent figures both inside and outside of the industry have weighed in on Game Workers Alliance huge victory and what it means for other companies moving forward. One such person who has offered their input is former Nintendo of America boss Reggie Fils-Aimé.

Reggie Fils-Aimé says game companies should 'embrace' unions

In a recent interview conducted by Washington Post Live, Reggie Fils-Aimé — who served as the Nintendo of America boss from 2006 to 2019 — said that if unionization is the direction that the industry is moving in, it would be best for big companies to not resist it and just go with the flow. "As a leader, you need to look hard," Fils-Aime told The Washington Post. "And if this is what your employees want, you need to address that and embrace it, and move forward."

Despite his words, Fils-Aimé would not go as far as to state that unionization is inherently right, instead implying that the concept is morally ambiguous in and of itself. "I've worked in industries that have had high levels of unionization," he said. "This is not a good or bad thing, it is a situation that as a leader, as an executive, you need to manage just like any other challenge, or issue, or opportunity that you face."

Raven Software isn't the only major video game studio with staff who attempted to form a union. In April, contractors from BioWare also begun pursuing unionization due to claims of low pay. It's surely only a matter of time before workers at another prominent video game company decide to follow a similar track.