“The Walking Dead Game”
In light of the report that Telltale Games has been a toxic work environment for their employees, I worked with people who make games to recreate scenes from their game “The Walking Dead” that deal specifically with one or more of the characters being overworked, exhausted or afraid. The finished work was a combination of a zine like script that gave people information about the company’s policies on labor and an accompanying video piece where I mask and pitch shift voices of the developers to protect their identities from corporation who would be less than happy to hear them criticizing crunch.
I considered the implications of labor in this project, as I was crowdsourcing lines from developers that I got as I either waited outside the ETC, or asked friends to read their lines. My views are that by overworking developers to fit in with an IP acquire or a season, developers are getting burned out and likely to reject or drop out of the industry. “Telltale” just so happens to be the perfect name for such a behavior – a telltale sign of broader problems with capitalism and the way it treats workers. The P-word “passion” was a major driving force behind the work. I have a history with the games industry as someone who wanted to make video games but became disillusioned with the ways companies treat games at the higher levels, or exploit people who have an interest in making them. As someone who appreciated the Walking Dead video game when it first came out, I never really considered who worked on it, and how they were being treated. Now I believe this must be a consideration.
Reasonably, I don’t know how this piece will give back to the community I sourced. I doubt any of them would ever be caught watching this video, or share it with their bosses or friends. It’s difficult to say exactly where it lives- I suppose it’s more of a reaction than anything else- a provocation that I want game developers to see and discuss.
Here is the PDF I made of the zine: