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(en) France, UCL AL #312 - Antipatriarchy, Video game: "Finish Him ! »A union against sexism in Ubisoft (ca, de, it, fr, pt)[machine translation]

Date Mon, 25 Jan 2021 09:23:24 +0200

French video game company Ubisoft recently found itself in the limelight over a harassment case. A sexist and virilist working atmosphere denounced for a long time already by unionists and workers in the gaming world. ---- The video game industry was built by and for men. This was already what Mar_Lard denounced in 2013 in an article, widely relayed at the time[1]. She criticized the over-sexualized image of the body of women, the schoolboy, sexist and frequent jokes on the part of men or the waves of online harassment towards those who dared to raise their voices. This masculinist atmosphere has been the breeding ground for the great alt-rightmovement [2]in recent years. This summer, it's Ubisoft, one of the world leaders in video games, creator of Assassin's Creed , Rayman or Just Dance, who got caught up in a sexual assault case.

It is therefore in this context that the Ubisoft case was declared this summer. Finally, several accusations of harassment and sexual assault have been pronounced against directors of studios, creatives or editorials of this developer. Sexist remarks, misogynistic behavior or abuse of power on the part of managers are evoked.

A historically sexist industry
Inequalities between women and men can be found at Ubisoft. In a press release of November 25, 2020[3], the union section of Solidaires Informatique Video Games (SI-JV) at Ubisoft Paris pointed out the pay inequalities between women and men, which can go up to 10% of difference. The women in the studio would also access positions of responsibility less frequently, with constant seniority and would have more precarious contracts. These are structural problems that translate, in part, into very real domination that directly affects women in the video game industry.

The first charges brought by Liberation[4]concerned high-ranking men, protected mainly by a " wall of HRs ". Indeed, several problematic cases seem to have been traced to certain HR teams who were hushing up the case; often because the problematic man was in high place and defended by these HRs with: " it's his character ", " he is like that " or " it should not be taken badly ".

Throw your pig at Ubisoft ! (image from the game Beyond Good and Evil 2)
The management of the studios seem to turn a deaf ear: the actions taken by the studios to try to reverse the situation are, for many, seen as " publicity stunts ". These actions do little, or slowly, to improve diversity within teams and departments. A few appearances in events labeled " diversity ", but little more. In fact, nothing seems to have really changed.

A union response to the oppressions suffered
It is therefore in this deleterious atmosphere, sometimes described as a boy's club, that the union sections at the Ubisoft Studio in Paris have played a leading role in acting on the ground. The collective agreement within the video game industry is the agreement of technical design offices, consulting engineering firms and consulting companies, known as Syntec. The unionization rate within this collective agreement is less than two percent.

While there was notoriously no union section in the studio, a situation which obviously delighted the management, two sections were created during the year 2020. The first is the union section Solidaires Informatique video games, at the beginning of the year. The section produced on July 3, two days after the first article of Liberation , a call for testimonies to try to free the words of the victims. The second section comes from the Union of Video Game Workers (STJV). The STJV invited the victims of the Ubisoft studio in Montpellier to get closer to them and them for psychological support or support.

The management of Ubisoft carries out, it, some minor actions: only part of the defendants are laid off, the majority is simply transferred to less " visible " positions, but indeed still in office. Also, an anonymous, but completely opaque system is put in place to report concerns to an independent entity. Quickly, the union section considers all this insufficient in view of the testimonies collected. Thus, at the end of July, it publishes on its site: " The Solidaires Informatique union announces that it is working on a collective legal action against the Ubisoft group " .

What games for tomorrow ?
Despite these actions, the group continues to turn a deaf ear. For example, the Numerama site published in September 2020, serious similar accusations in an Ubisoft studio based in Paris: Nadéo[5]. This article followed another call for evidence from the union. Despite these appalling testimonies of abuse of power, Ubisoft's management has not reacted publicly and does not appear to have undertaken any internal investigation.

Obviously, the problems of sexism don't stop at Ubisoft's doors. The same year, the Californian video game studio Insomniac Games was faced with the same kind of charges. Several employees have decided to resign to protest against a culture of harassment towards the women of the studio.

The pattern seems to repeat itself. Even if union actions are initiated and allow the support of the victims of a historically and structurally sexist industry, enormous fundamental fights must still be waged. The fight for equality, for the rights of women and minorities, must continue to be a priority. With a very low unionization rate in this sector, we must also endeavor to bring together workers so that they can decide, together, how to organize themselves to produce games in a healthy and democratic context. for all.

H. (UCL Paris North-East)


[1] Mar_Lard, "Sexism among geeks: why our community is sick and how to fix it," cafaitgenre.org , March 16, 2013.

[2] The alt-right refers to a part of the American extreme right which rejects classical conservatism, militates for white supremacism and against feminism.

[3] "Acareer at Ubisoft Paris for women ? », Solidaires Informatiques Ubisoft Paris, November 25, 2020.

[4] "Ubisoft, harassment at the helm," Liberation , 1 stJuly 2020.

[5] "'You'll cry the first few times': what's going on in the Ubisoft studio behind Trackmania ? », Numerama , September 10, 2020.

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