Election emergency against the far right

We need to defend our rights and freedoms

Successive governments have destroyed public services, attacked justice and individual freedoms, and shattered labour laws. By legitimising far-right ideas and setting up fascism as a possible alternative, they have created the current situation.

Last Sunday, the far right came out well ahead in the French European elections. In the immediate aftermath, the President decided to add fuel to the fire by disbanding the National Assembly.

Legislative elections will be held in less than 3 weeks: the first round will take place on 30 June, and the second on 7 July. These elections may well bring the far right to power in France.

The far right in power means being caught between a rock and a hard place. Wherever it is in power, whether abroad or in our city halls, it follows the same programme:

  • deadly austerity, destruction of public services
  • undermining freedom of expression, of the press, of association and of trade unions
  • reducing access to culture, information and justice
  • attacking the rights of women, LGBT people, foreigners…

Everywhere the actions and votes of the far right prove that it is the enemy of workers. In France, for example, it has voted against: pay rises, housing benefits, increases in hospital budgets, and all ecological measures. Nor is it opposed to raising the retirement age…

We call on workers to mobilise against the far right and to join the demonstrations and rallies taking place on the weekend of 15 June.

We encourage workers to vote in the next elections to prevent the far right from coming to power, to get involved in the election campaign, which promises to be intense, and of course to get involved in the trade union and anti-fascist struggle which will be the only way for workers to win in the long term.

Do you have any questions about the electoral process, proxy voting, voter registration, etc.? We encourage you to get in touch with union activists near you or to contact us.

Let’s defeat the far right today through unity at the ballot box. Let’s defeat it tomorrow by fighting for social policies. Let’s make it disappear forever through solidarity and internationalism.

Stop the massacres in Palestine – day of action on 8 June

Since October, the violence perpetrated by the Israeli far-right and Israeli army against Palestinians has only increased, reaching genocidal proportions by imposing an unbearable siege on the population in which famine affects everyone and the Israeli army’s bombings and murders by drones are constant.

In the north of the Gaza Strip, which has been split in two for several months now, what little news is getting out is more catastrophic than ever, as this part of the world is effectively cut off from all supplies of water, food and healthcare.

In the south, Israel has forced Gazans to move to Rafah and along the Egyptian border, then near the sea in an ever smaller area where the density of displaced population is only increasing. The Israeli army is currently attacking and bombing this area full of civilians, breaking ever more despicable horror records.

In the West Bank, the settlers and the Israeli army are exploiting the situation, in line with Israel’s colonial policy, to multiply murders, violence, destruction, land seizures and humiliation of the Palestinian population.

Israel, with the support or complicit indifference of the majority of Western countries, including France, allows itself to ignore the condemnations and arrest warrants issued by international legal bodies, and is actively campaigning to weaken international law.

Mobilisations for a ceasefire, an end to the genocide in Palestine and the release of all hostages have continued non-stop since October, despite repression by the French government. They have resumed in earnest in recent days.

In this context, we communicated in October about the links between video games and the politics of violence around the world. Today, the STJV is joining the unitary call initiated by the CGT, and is calling on video game workers and the population as a whole to come together and demonstrate en masse on Saturday 8 June.

We demand:

  • an end to war crimes and crimes against humanity as named by the International Criminal Court
  • compliance with international humanitarian law
  • an immediate ceasefire and the lifting of the blockade on Gaza
  • an end to the bombing and forced displacement of the population
  • the protection of the Palestinian people in Gaza and the West Bank
  • the release of Israeli hostages held by Hamas
  • the release of the thousands of Palestinian prisoners held without trial in Israel;
  • an trade embargo on settlements in occupied Palestine
  • sanctions, including the suspension of the association agreement between the European Union and Israel
  • an immediate cessation of all military cooperation with Israel and all arms deliveries
  • a just and lasting peace between Palestinians and Israelis
Flag Of Palestine

Unacceptable pressure on negotiations at Spiders

While negotiations are taking place at Spiders on remote work and annual pay rises for 2024, company COO and SNJV (french employer’s organisation) president Anne Devouassoux took the liberty of demanding that the STJV change the company’s trade union delegate.

Negotiations at Spiders have been going on for several months now, and have been slowed down by the management’s attitude. The climate surrounding these negotiations is very tense. As our union delegate was on sick leave for 4 weeks, negotiations were necessarily put on hold during this period, but all we had to do was wait for his return to resume them.

Anne Devouassoux, who wants to roll back the freedom to work from home acquired within the studio and is offering workers “between 0 and 3%” pay increase, sent an unbelievable mail to our union and our delegate. In her letter, she tries to exert pressure on our representatives to put an end to negotiations altough they have no deadline. These actions constitute union discrimination against our delegate.

Before trying to intimidate a democratic and independent trade union, she could have turned to the STJV’s duly mandated negotiating delegation in her company.

Anne Devouassoux claims to represent employees and to be acting in their best interests, while at the same time threatening in a follow-up email to unilaterally terminate negotiations, which would lead to the imposition of rules that have been overwhelmingly rejected by Spiders’ workers, whatever the management is pretending internally. Whilst workers want negotiations to succeed, they do not want this to happen at any cost.

As an employer, and the president of an employers’ union to boot, Anne Devouassoux cannot claim to represent and defend the interests of workers, especially when she has explicitly refused to consult Spiders employees on the negotiations underway. Workers are represented by the elected staff representatives and the representative trade unions in the company.

We demand that she put an end to these gross manoeuvres, and that she respect employee representation, our trade union freedom and the principles of fair negotiation. The injunctions and allusions made in her letter and email are intolerable. Trade union discrimination is an offence under the French Labour Code and Criminal Code.

To ensure that negotiations run smoothly and reach a successful conclusion, we advise Spiders’ management to provide the delegation with the necessary information, listen to employees and accede to the demands of the STJV trade union section.

This advice applies to all companies. We will never give in to intimidation, and we will help all workers who are victims of it.

Call for donations to the STJV strike fund – 2024

The current situation

For several months now we have been lamenting a particularly lack of commitment on the part of video game industry employers. They believe that social dialogue means imposing their conditions unilaterally and ignoring workers’ demands and rights. It goes without saying that this kind of position also has consequences for the quality of games.

In many French studios, elected workers and union representatives have voiced their disagreement and told their employers that this situation is completely unacceptable.

In addition, and despite the spectacular mobilisations that have taken place in many studios throughout France, without necessarily having been made public, we are not seeing any appropriate reaction from our employers.

Since it is absolutely out of the question to cease fighting for workers’ rights in the industry, and as we anticipate an escalation in conflicts, we believe it is necessary to do everything we can to strengthen our means of action. And among these actions we believe it is necessary to economically re-arm the social movement in our branch.

The STJV’s strike fund is fed by a share of its members’ dues, but remains largely dependent on donations. This is why we are launching a call for donations to the STJV’s strike fund.

This call is addressed to all those who have the means to do so, and who wish to support social action in our industry.

What will it be used for?

These donations will be dedicated to the strike fund, and exclusively dedicated to this purpose. They will be used to provide an income for striking workers, by going directly into the local strike funds run by workers.

Traditionally, strikers meet to decide collectively and democratically how to distribute the available funds, taking into account the information available to them, everyone’s needs and the future of the movement.

Why donate to our strike fund?

If you work in the video games industry

Then you probably already understand why we need to be prepared. We invite you to donate if, for example, you are not in a position to go on strike because your working conditions do not allow you to, but you have sufficient financial means. Or if you work alongside people who are involved in games production but you are not directly involved yourself, and you would like to give them strength.

If you don’t work in the industry, but play games

In that case, it is also in your interest that good working conditions are ensured in game studios. Companies in which workers’ voices are no longer taken into account are also companies in which the final result of the work done is likely to be mediocre.

Video game development is a collective effort that requires intelligent organisation, both to ensure that the people working on it don’t burn out and to ensure that the end result is correct. If you’re interested, we recommend a video (in French) on the Bolchegeek channel on this subject.

Whether we’re criticising dysfunctional working conditions or the mediocre state in which games are released, we’re talking about the same thing: absurd decisions taken against all logic, ignoring the warnings of those who actually work. Our response to these problems must be collective.

How can I donate?

To donate to the STJV’s strike fund, all you have to do is make a transfer to the STJV’s strike fund account, which can be found below:

IBAN: FR76 1027 8060 3100 0207 2930 259


To simplify accounting and the identification of donations to the strike fund, please remember to mention “strike fund” in the description of your transfer.

March 8, 2024 feminist strike: putting an end to the obstacles to the recognition of sexual and gender-based violence in the video game industry

March 8 is the international day of action for the rights of women and gender minorities, which celebrates the historical and current battles of feminism. Women and marginalised genders are and always have been present in social conflicts: March 8 is itself the anniversary of the 1917 strike by women workers in St Petersburg, which sparked off the Russian revolutions.

Last year, by force of circumstance, March 8 was included in the more global movement against the pension reform. The authoritarianism of the French government and the forced passage of this reform were a severe defeat for the rights of women and marginalised genders: the government’s own studies show that the negative impacts of this reform are doubled for women.

This year, March 8 is taking place in a very dramatic context. In our industry, we are seriously concerned about the consequences on women of the massive waves of layoffs that are currently taking place. Most of the jobs being eliminated are precarious, disproportionately occupied by people of marginalised genders, who will also have to endure discrimination when looking for work.

Women and queer people have also been instrumentalised for months to justify Israel’s genocidal policy against Palestinians. Our Palestinian brothers and sisters are being slaughtered before the eyes of the whole world, and they would have us believe that Israeli crimes are positive. What benefits do Palestinian women and queer people derive from starvation, disease, the eradication of their own people, their own deaths?

The very existence of genocidal colonial systems is incompatible with the freedom of people of marginalised gender. There can be no liberation of women and queer people without the liberation of Palestine. This March 8 will also be an opportunity to support them.

However, there have also been some improvements, for example:

  • Spain was the first country in Europe to introduce menstrual leave. This long-awaited right has been the subject of a draft law in France and is one of the STJV’s demands, which has been systematically refused by companies.
  • Thanks to the mobilisation of feminist movements across the country, Mexico has finally legalised abortion at federal level. Fighting wins.

Generally speaking, we can see that in France, despite all the obstacles, more and more people are speaking out. We’re obviously thinking of the film industry, but this is also the case all across society. The subject of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) is finally emerging as a public social issue, for the benefit of all those who are subjected to it. We welcome and support these initiatives.

Companies and schools: inclusive in words, sexist in deeds

Since last year, the friendly facade of video game schools and companies has collided head-on with worker representatives. Everywhere, all it takes is a few questions to confuse management and confirm what we already knew: behind the words, there is nothing. No monitoring of sexist and sexual violence, no warning systems, no measures to combat discrimination…

By refusing to respond, but also by reformulating all the proposals and demands of workers and unions to remove any concrete and useful vocabulary in favour of completely meaningless managerial phrases, bosses are actively fighting to deny the existence of problems. They do this consciously, to prevent workers from rationalising these problems and being able to act upon them.

In response to our calls for clear and unambiguous processes to combat SGBV and discrimination at work, we are told that “the doors of HR or management are always open”. By brushing aside the role of management itself and denying staff representatives the ability to take action, they isolate victims and single out cases of violence, in order to undermine them and prevent a more global approach.

Far from being innocent or thoughtless, these practices of referring to an oppressive system (the company hierarchy) which has a clear interest in keeping violence hidden, are silencing victims and witnesses. The “open door” is at best a naive dead end, at worst discriminatory violence itself.

Unions, workers and workers’ representatives engaged in an ongoing struggle

Workers have tools at their disposal to combat SGBV and discrimination: it is the role of the CSE (~workers’ council) to monitor the integrity of management, to offer a practical, on-the-ground response via its anti-harassment advisers, to sound the alarm and not to lose sight of risk indicators. This workers’ representatives body has the power to report problems to health and safety inspectors and to initiate investigations through its reporting rights.

In companies where the STJV is representative after a victory in the CSE elections, the union sections address these subjects within compulsory annual negotiations on professional equality (and therefore gender equality). By law, this is a time to discuss the fight against discrimination, and to negotiate or even impose more by building a balance of power in favour of workers.

Problem: these negotiations are systematically blocked by company managers. Recently, comrades denounced the blocking of negotiations and workers’ representatives at Don’t Nod, and workers at Ubisoft went on strike in reaction to the absence of any real wage negotiations on the part of the group’s management. These elements made public are accompanied across the industry by a multitude of other struggles, including strikes, which have remained private for the time being. The discontent is widespread.

By blocking negotiations on gender equality, by postponing them on the pretext that it is a “less urgent” subject, by ignoring workers’ representatives, the bosses refuse to let workers express themselves or to listen to their demands. They prefer to ” observe the absence” of harassment, violence or discrimination and pretend that everything is fine.

Willful ignorance is not an anti-discrimination policy, but an extreme form of additional violence. It sends a message to victims of SGBV that the violence and discrimination they suffer does not count and will not be resolved in their workplace.

Tearing down existing barriers

Workers’ demands in the video game industry are simple, and it’s almost mind-boggling that we have to make them in the first place:

  • company management must actually listen to workers, and therefore take the feedback from their representatives‧es seriously and respect negotiations ;
  • concrete processes for gathering data and information must be put in place, so that they can then be provided to staff representatives ;
  • this second point must be accompanied by the public availability of non-personal statistics and data, and in particular the introduction of pay scales ;
  • to prevent the silencing of workers, real internal feedback, alert and investigation processes must be created that include worker representation bodies.

In short and to be perfectly clear: we demand that company executives stop caring about marginalised genders only to use them as a stepping stone for their company’s image, their personal careers or to maximise profits.

As we argued last year in a review of our industry and our role, the fight against gender oppression will be fought through unions. This assertion stems from the realisation that our rights will never be won without a fight.

The Syndicat des Travailleurs et Travailleuses du Jeu Vidéo is therefore calling for strikes in the video game industry on Friday 8 March 2024. We call on workers, unemployed people, pensioners and students from the video game industry to mobilise in companies, and to join the demonstrations that will take place everywhere in France on that day.

This call covers the STJV’s field of action in the private sector, and therefore applies to any person employed by a video game publishing, distribution, services and/or creation company, whatever their position or status and whatever their company’s area of activity (games, consoles, mobile, serious games, VR/AR, game engines, marketing services, streaming, derivative products, esports, online content creation, etc.), as well as to all teachers working in private schools in video game-related courses. As this is a national strike call, no action is necessary to go on strike: just don’t come to work.

DON’T NOD: Ascension or free fall?

Don’t Nod is known for its narrative games tackling issues of inclusion and diversity. Its official website goes even further, claiming that “caring about one another is at the heart of everything we do and is the central theme of our values”. Unfortunately, as often in the video game industry, these values are not put into practice despite being frequently highlighted in corporate communications and in the press.

On May 31, 2022, while revealing its new visual identity, Don’t Nod announced 6 new games were in development, of which 4 in-house production lines and 2 produced externally. Just over a year later, on October 19, 2023, Don’t Nod went further, announcing « a 10.3% increase in sales, a record balance sheet (€60M cash net of debt), and a pipeline of 8 games in production » (« une activité en hausse de 10,3%, un bilan record (60M€ cash net de dettes), et un pipeline de 8 jeux en production ») while unveiling its half-year results (“H1 2023”).

We’re sounding the alarm on the situation of Don’t Nod employees.

The STJV is concerned that the company will not be able to manage these multiple parallel productions:

  • deadlines change very frequently
  • information and directions given to teams are contradictory
  • employees are moved from one team to another with no long-term vision of projects
  • a grueling reorganization, which took over a year to be fully implemented, is leaving entire teams out in the cold.

In a studio where each project erratically follows another, time and long-term vision required for the employees’ welfare is disappearing, leading to more stress among workers and creating boreout/burnout situations by leaving us all waiting for decisions to be taken by management.

The STJV is concerned about the psychosocial hazards Don’t Nod’s workers are facing, in view of the significant number of reports of ill-being and sick leaves.

Tumultuous releases

Jusant was released on October 31, 2023.

A success with critics, the game apparently failed to meet the commercial expectations of the company’s management, who simply shut down its production line and dispersed its team members to other projects. No justification was given for this sudden decision, despite the Social and Economic Committee’s (CSE) insistence.

Jusant’s developers were left in the dark about their future, many without any work to do, for over 2 months.

Banishers, originally scheduled for November 7, 2023, was belatedly postponed to February 13, 2024, prompting strong questions internally, as workers learned of the change of schedule mere 30 minutes before the public announcement.

This postponement comes in a context of crisis for the international job market in the video game sector, with massive layoffs, especially at studios that have been looking for investment in recent years, such as Don’t Nod.

All our teams are understaffed, yet we let go people that were on temportary contracts, internships or work-study apprenticeships. Some are occasionally called back to deal with production emergencies, but always on precarious contracts.

This situation is a danger to the health of the workers, and imposes enormous pressure on teams who are increasingly struggling to meet deadlines.

A silenced union section

Management refuses any means of direct communication between our STJV section and employees. It has even gone back on the meager rights granted in the past when the section was not yet representative (an electoral milestone for unions in France). We have since won the 2023 CSE election by a landslide, making the STJV broadly representative, which should have led to more communication. Specifically, Don’t Nod management considers that a notice board hung at the studio’s office (the minimum effort to fulfill their legal obligations) is enough to inform 300 employees… despite 75% of employees being fully remote.

Since last autumn, we have been trying to obtain the organization of mandatory annual negotiations (“Négociations Annuelles Obligatoires”, or NAO) that are due. Dialogue is impossible, with management going as far as pretending not to understand emails to scupper the NAO, or force our hand.

A scoping meeting was held on January 16, 2024 but did not follow the procedure set out in the French Labor Code, and we couldn’t even bring up the topics to be addressed at the NAO or discuss the timetable of the negotiations. On top of this, we have been denied any means in terms of time, documents or information channels to prepare properly for the negotiations. This is the opposite of « fair and serious » (« loyales et sérieuses », French Labor Code) negotiations.

An obstructed CSE (Social and Economic Committee, or workers’ council)

These concerns have been observed and reported internally to the new CSE, elected in June 2023 under the STJV banner.

However, the CSE itself is in great difficulty due to the management of Don’t Nod, and notes :

  • the gradual disappearance of opportunities for discussion between workers and top management
  • numerous obstacles and obstructions to the exercise of their CSE mandate
  • workers in distress, leading to sick leaves and departures
  • a lack of legal means to inform employees of their rights, and of the situation of their colleagues in other divisions or projects.

Management’s response to this is to bury its head in the sand and mistreat the CSE’s elected officials, refusing to inform them of matters that do concern the CSE, and refusing to be held accountable. As it stands, « social dialogue » is non-existent.

In addition to these difficulties for the CSE, worrying testimonies from many employees have been piling up for months, echoing the survey on quality of life at work carried out in 2023.

Dissonance and stubbornness

In September 2023, Don’t Nod management presented the results of its Quality of Life at Work survey, to which two-thirds of employees responded. It should be noted, though, that the survey contained almost no explicit points on quality of life and working conditions.

It does, however, present overview of various topics, and employees can learn that :

  • 28% say they receive no recognition for their work
  • 30% would discourage acquaintances from applying to Don’t Nod
  • 39% feel the workload is too heavy (or that teams are too small)
  • 50% disapprove of corporate’s strategy

When presenting the survey results, some 6 months later, Don’t Nod management was full of praise for the studio (and therefore for itself) when the figures looked good.

However: the scores were averaged, making it impossible to study results by division or team, thus concealing potential disparities in perception, or even warnings. Faced with the figures, management shaped the results to only talk about what would be interpreted as positive.

Following the results, the CSE questioned management on its intended measures to address the apparent issues: rather than proposing real solutions, the company prefers to explain to its employees that they simply haven’t fully understood its ambitions, and that the company needs to explain itself better in its internal communications. When can we expect a toll-free number to explain Don’t Nod’s complex thinking?

We also note that 90% of survey respondents say they like their colleagues and enjoy working with them. The source of the problems is therefore systemic and structural.

Don’t Nod, but Do Better

The STJV is concerned about the future of the studio, of its productions and working conditions, and notes the absence of social dialogue.

Because Don’t Nod is one of the rare companies to offer full-time remote working and has been able to offer permanent contracts and defend a more progressive editorial line than its competitors, we urge management to take concrete measures to resolve all the problems identified in this press release, to listen to the legitimate concerns of its employees and its union section, so that the company’s values reach the height of its ambitions.

The Don’t Nod STJV union section

On February 14th, Ubisoft France on strike for decent wages

Over the last few weeks the STJV took part in the Mandatory Annual Negotiations on salaries in several Ubisoft entities in France. Despite the unions’ efforts to find an acceptable compromise, negotiations hit a wall. In order to hit arbtirary cost reductions targets, management offered a budget dedicated to raises that would be lower than inflation for the second year in a row.

A badly balanced rewards system

How can we square such disdain with our CEO urging us to « gain in agility and efficiency »? How could we accept such low raises when the company boasts of “an excellent second quarter, well above [our] expectations”, all while paying « tribute to the exceptional level of commitment from the teams »? We’d say that’s a pretty badly balanced rewards system.

Lowering our living standards: not a bug, but a feature

The conclusion is thus: to Ubisoft’s management, our living standards going down isn’t a bug, it’s a feature. A company that still makes a profit, even when its execs have failed repeatedly, choosing to have its employees pay to increase its profits is plainly unacceptable. This is why we call, in association with the other combative unions at Ubisoft, to a strike all day long on wednesday, February 14th, in all the French entities belonging to the Ubisoft group.

If you have any questions on how to join the strike, you may refer to our guide on the topic [in French only for now, sorry!], or contact one of our sections in the various Ubisoft entities.

Anti-immigration law: the far right is already in power

On December 20, the National Assembly passed a law known as the “immigration law”. The result of a compromise between Renaissance, les Républicains and the Rassemblement National, its adoption marks a turning point in the attitude of the government and the “centre”: where previously they pretended to stand up against the far right, they are now openly adopting its racist ideas and allying themselves with it without shame.

The French far right applauded the passing of this law, which other fascist parties in Europe are praising and hoping to replicate. And it’s easy to see why: it incorporates directly some of the racist ideological pillars of the far right, such as national preference.

The target of this racist law is no secret: by attacking welfare benefits, birthright citizenship and family reunification, it targets specifically poor foreign workers, the majority of whom are non-white. This is reinforced by the government’s promise to clamp down in 2024 on the Aide Médicale d’Etat (State Medical Aid), of which the disgusting plan to abolish had been strongly denounced. The law’s repressive measures, including the introduction of an offence of illegal residence, will enable the police to unleash their violence even more on these populations, by arresting them arbitrarily on the slightest “suspicion”.

This law’s agenda is that of the far right: violence. Violence from the state, whether exercised through social services (or in this case their inaccessibility), the justice system or the police. It heralds the future, with a government that will continue to exercise ever more violence against foreigners, but also against people with French nationality. Because its attacks on social benefits, freedom, education and research will extend to everyone.

The STJV is firmly opposed to this law and to any restrictions on people’s rights and social benefits, no matter who they apply to. We defend the right for everyone, without restriction, to be able to reside wherever they wish and to live there with dignity, in peace. We call on all workers to join the actions opposing this law, and in particular the mobilisations on Sunday 14 and 21 January.

STJV 2022 workers’ survey: what do the figures tell us?

Last month, we published our 2022 survey on video game workers. The raw figures already say a lot about our industry, but we also need to analyse them and take a closer look at what they reveal politically. And it is not pretty.

The challenge of studying and entering the industry

With an average cost of €25,000 per student going through private schools, video game studies are undeniably expensive.

More than a third of these students rely on a bank loan to finance their studies, which means they are already in debt before starting their working lives. It takes them several years to pay back these loans, during which time a large portion of their income is spent on them.

Statistics from the STJV 2022 survey: access to the 1st job in the industry. 48.2% of workers find a job straight after graduating, 17.3% take more than a year to find their first job.

However, after graduating a significant proportion of workers do not find a job straight away. One in 6 waits more than a year to find a job, during which time they live in fear of their first loan repayment deadline.

Statistics from the STJV 2022 survey: situation after graduating. 40% of workers are on fixed-term contracts, 24% on permanent contracts, 12% are self-employed, 19% are unemployed, 5% are interns.

But having a job is not a liberation, because the majority of workers end up in precarious employment after graduating. Only a quarter of them have a stable job, with the rest having to live time and again in fear of ending up jobless in the near future.

Everything seems designed to prevent workers from entering the industry. As a result, this system encourages social reproduction, i․e. only people from privileged backgrounds can get in. The industry remains socially homogeneous. Employers’ efforts to pretend to fight against this will change nothing, since on the contrary this situation benefits them, by economically subjugating new workers entering the industry.

The impossibility of building a career

After a very uncertain start in the industry, the workers’ troubles are not over: long careers in video games are rare.

Statistics from the STJV 2022 survey: experience in the video game sector. 11.3% of workers have less than one year's experience, 49.5% between 1 and 5 years' experience, 23.7% between 5 and 10 years, 10.3% between 10 and 15 years, 3.9% between 15 and 20 years, 1.3% more than 20 years.

Our survey shows that 61% of workers have less than 5 years of experience, and that 85% of them, the overwhelming majority, have less than 10 years of experience. Yet the French video game industry has been around since the 1980s, and is therefore more than 30 years old.

Statistics from the STJV 2022 survey: seniority in the current company. 27.9% of workers have been with the company for less than a year, 55.8% between 1 and 5 years, 11.1% between 5 and 10 years, 3.6% between 10 and 15 years, 0.8% between 15 and 20 years, 0.8% more than 20 years.

In addition, almost 84% of workers have been with their current company for less than 5 years, so it seems impossible to make a career in one company. And when you look at the pay data from our survey, it’s hard not to notice, apart from a few special cases, that pay progression is relatively normal up to 5 years’ experience in the industry, but stagnates after that.

Pressure, poor working conditions, low pay, discrimination, working hours making family life impossible, and many other systemic reasons push workers to change jobs or industries after a few years.

Workers are leaving the industry because they have no future in it.

And employers see no point in changing the situation: companies are deliberately trying to keep their production costs as low as possible by intentionally exploiting young people just out of school.

The reality of crunch

Employers almost always deny the existence of crunch, periods of intense work during which managers ask or encourage workers to work beyond what their health can cope with. Anne Devouassoux, president of the SNJV, the French industry’s main employers’ lobby, told Têtu magazine last May that “Crunch does not exist in today’s professional world.”.

Statistics from the STJV 2022 survey: crunch over the past year. 22.5% of employees report having experienced at least one period of crunch in the past year.

Our survey shows, however, that it is a widespread practice, with almost a quarter of workers declaring having experienced one in the last year. The annual approach we have chosen highlights the recurrence of crunch, but masks the fact that a production may last several years. We therefore believe that the proportion of games released using crunch is even higher.

We also see that older workers report experiencing crunch more often, which suggests that, thanks to their experience, they are better able to identify it. Consequently, this figure is surely highly underestimated.

In defence of her social class, the president of the SNJV went on to explain in the same article that “there exists overtime, on a voluntary basis. These are paid and regulated by law“.

Statistics from the STJV 2022 survey: compensation for crunch periods. 29.8% of employees have no compensation, 22.9% have only "recognition", 14.8% have time off, 11.5% a bonus and 21% paid overtime.

Facts prove her wrong once again, since more than half of workers are not paid for their crunch periods. Incidentally, the payment of bonuses to pay for overtime is illegal and constitutes concealed work if they are not recorded on pay slips.

By concentrating a large amount of work in a short space of time, crunch aims to compensate for the lack of investment in the management of video game production, and the problems caused by dictatorial corporate structures. It is a management method in its own right. The damage caused by crunch to workers’ health is the result of deliberate political choices.

The non-recognition of education and skills

Our survey confirmed a well-known fact in the industry: the gap between academic qualifications and employment status.

We can see that around 90% of video game workers have a level of education corresponding to at least Bac+3 (bachelor), and more than 60% of them even have a Bac+5 degree (master’s and above).

Statistics from the STJV 2022 survey: educational level of workers. 4.6% have a Bac level, 5.9% a Bac+2 level, 28.1% a Bac+3 or Bac+4 level, 61.4% a Bac+5 or higher.

Specialised short courses (Bac+2 or less) are extremely rare, and companies systematically ask for a high level of education when recruiting.

At the same time, more than 40% of video game workers have an ETAM (employee) status.

Statistics from the STJV 2022 survey: socio-professional category. 41.6% ETAM, 46% cadre, 11.9% self-employed, 0.3% intermittent, 0.2% teacher and researcher

However, this status is normally reserved for positions requiring levels of education ranging from BEP to BTS. In the Syntec collective agreement, which covers most of the French industry, it’s even clearer: all positions requiring a level of education higher than Bac+2 are deemed to fall under the cadre status. In this respect, we consider that all video game professions fall under the cadre status, since they require long-term training, autonomy and extensive theoretical knowledge.

Yet companies refuse to switch employees to this status, and for easily identified reasons:

  1. Minimum salaries are higher for cadres than for employees, and they increase more favourably for workers. Very often, minimum salaries for cadres under Syntec are higher than the minimum salaries offered by video game companies. This is particularly true in the design (game & level design, etc.) and art (animation, concept art, etc.) departments.
  2. Social contributions are lower for employees than for cadres. Coupled with lower salaries, this allows companies to save on their employer contributions, to the detriment of public services and national solidarity.

As well as denying us better pay and access to better public services and pensions, companies are also refusing to acknowledge our skills and work by forcing workers to work at the lowest possible ranks.

General conclusions

From these points, but also from the other data in the survey, we reach a distressing conclusion: from their studies onwards and throughout their careers, everything seems to be done to push workers to leave the video games industry. For the majority of them, it offers them no future, no horizons to look forward to.

Based on legal support, surveys, union and workers’ council mandates, one truth is becoming increasingly clear: company and group directors have no long-term strategy or thinking. The industry is organised to ensure that bosses line their pockets, with total contempt for workers, their careers, their jobs, the games they produce and their ability to express themselves.

An industry where workers have no future has no future either. Since our bosses don’t care, and since the majority of us still want to make video games, the only solution is for workers to take the future of the video game industry into their own hands.

Workers’ demands

In our survey, we asked workers their demands:


Unsurprisingly, these focus first and foremost on working time and conditions, in particular pay, remote work, and the 4-day week. But many are also calling for better career-long training, better project management, greater transparency, and for their opinions to be taken into account…

Workers are very good at identifying the problems caused by their companies and how to solve them, and it’s time to let them handle things instead of their managers.

Legal actions against the studio Umeshu Lovers

A few weeks ago, Toulouse-based studio Umeshu Lovers published its game Danghost. Over the past few months, we have been helping former employees of this studio, who have turned to the STJV for help in dealing with situations that our union considers unacceptable.

To date, three complaints have been lodged with the Procureur de la République (french public prosecutor) against the company and one of its directors, including charges of moral and sexual harassment.

Two cases relating to the execution and termination of employment contracts were also filed with the conseil des prud’hommes (french industrial tribunal), including the same grievances as the criminal complaints. The STJV will intervene voluntarily in these proceedings to defend the collective interests of the profession.

We hope that these legal actions will bring justice to the victims and put an end to the acts being prosecuted.

In all video game companies, the STJV defends and will defend all workers, whether unionised or not. We can carry out this kind of action thanks to our comrades’ dues and the volunteer work of our Legal Support and Assistance Committee.

Update 11/4/23 : A ce jour, aucune poursuite pénale n’a encore été engagée par le procureur de la république.