Monday, 22 March 2010

Running for the board of the IGDA

I have already stated on the IGDA forums that I intend to run for the board of the IGDA at the next possible opportunity (not sure if that means next year or the year after due to there being a 2 year membership requirement). But I am going to start making it better known, and set up another blog somewhere to detail my campaign.

Of course as such a vocal critic of the IGDA my candidacy is going to be controversial and should I be lucky enough to win a place I will by necessity be there to make major changes to the organisation and help those on the board already fighting for change who are currently hampered by an old guard of ineffective members and closeted procedures.

But I’m not just going to run on a, bring them all down, mandate…nor am I running to give myself a nice title to add to my sig line and promote some romanticised ideal of what I can do for the IGDA, I want to establish a set of policy points that I intend to pursue, designed to make the IGDA more relevant to game developers.

So I have outlined an initial draft of things I want to bring to the board.

1) Total transparency and reporting of board activities
2) Simplification of vote of no confidence in the board or individual members
3) Promotion of training for management and project management
4) Definite commitment to speak out about crunch
5) Establishment of a IGDA Good working practices award
6) Pressure console makers to form educational programmes
7) Support for indies and freelancers to work in mainstream development
8) Explanation of workers rights and contract
9) Split executive control to geographic sites

1) The board as it stands is somewhat secretive and often self serving, we’ve seen instances of board members seeking the role simply to promote their own status, agenda’s or in one case to scupper established programs. The board must be totally transparent and accountable for its actions. I would like to see recordings of all meetings made available* and notes of who holds what opinions kept. If someone clearly is not fulfilling their role to the benefit of the organisation it has to be possible to see that.

2) This follows on from point 1, if the board is open and accountable there therefore has to be a straightforward procedure to rebuke or in some cases remove that member, or the board for failing to uphold its obligations to the members.

3) There are many management and project management and quality control organisations out there, which the IGDA could hook up with to provide information or training on proper business and project management methods. Our industry often shows staggering levels of ineptitude on even the most basic working methods for running a company or project. The IGDA could and should reach out to organisations who represent professionals in these fields and bring that experience into the industry.

4) Crunch is evil. Lets not get bogged down with endless debate about what exactly is QoL, lets instead focus on a simple fact, Crunch, being the enforced working of unpaid overtime, is evil…and it must be spoken out and fought at every turn.

5) The IGDA must set up a Good Working Practices award, and establish a means of investigating companies to determine if their working practices are fair and do not use crunch to drive their profitability. This could be a voluntary application for this award, or it could be a long term investment by the IGDA to seek out the best companies and to highlight those who do not meet a standard that should be expected.

6) Sony currently have a fine, though still limited educational program, Nintendo and Microsoft sadly do not, which means that many future game developers do not get exposed to the development skills they will need when the enter the commercial market. IGDA should seek to work with Nintendo and Microsoft to establish such programs to ensure future graduates are fully able to contribute to the industry when they graduate.

7) In an industry when competition often results in regular unemployment, many developers see smaller business models as a way forward, but all the main console makers effectively prohibit their systems being used by home based or casual office workers, this needs to be addressed.

8) Many developers are often unaware of their rights as employees and employers., The IGDA should be a reference point for developers to explain what is and is not allowed in dealing with the day to day workings of a game development company.

9) The IGDA is supposed to be an international organisation, but it clearly is very US centric, and it needs to be able to deal with other geographic issues equally I would propose a division of its membership administration into Americas/Europe/Asia subsections which are better able to deal with geographically specific issues. This admin can be answerable to a main board.

There are many other issues I have with the IGDA, some of which I hope to explain in detail and formulate additions to this draft set of ideas. But mainly I feel that the IGDA needs to be what it says it is. An association for Game Developers.
Many people argue that the IGDA is not and never can be a union. That’s perfectly fair and true, but it can be a voice FOR developers against exploitation of developers, it can be a vehicle for change, it can set things in motion that benefit developers and their employers (who are also developers by definition). It can help to make development a fun, fair and rewarding career or it can continue to be a pointless social club where rank and status and freebees at conferences are more important than actual on the ground improvements in the conditions developers work in.

I welcome any and all comments on these proposals

*Of course, some things need to be debated in private before opinions can be formed, but executive board meetings should always be public and open, and what is said there should be available for discussion and if needed censure.

No comments: