The Last Of Us director Bruce Straley has stated “maybe” the video game industry needs unionizing, after receiving no credit in HBO’s TV adaption of the video game.
The LA Times reports that while Straley developed a “strained” relationship with developer Naughty Dog (citing how he left the studio soon after the launch of Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End in 2016), he was not credited in the HBO show’s end credits. Instead, it notes the series is “based on the PlayStation Studios videogame written by Neil Druckman.”
Both Straley and Druckman were directors on the original 2013 game, but Druckman was the writer. Straley would continue to direct DLC and remakes; however, he departed Naughty Dog in September 2017 and was not involved with The Last of Us Part II. Druckman serves as the TV series writer, executive producer on two episodes, and director of one episode.
Though Straley was not involved in the show’s production, the lack of acknowledgement had an effect. Speaking to the LA Times, Straley said, “It’s an argument for unionization that someone who was part of the co-creation of that world and those characters isn’t getting a credit or a nickel for the work they put into it.”
“Maybe we need unions in the video game industry to be able to protect creators,” Straley mused.
Video game unions have become a topic of hot debate, especially after the sexual harassment cases within major developers Ubisoft and Blizzard Entertainment, including a call-to-action from former Blizzard developer and ArenaNet co-founder Jeff Strain.
Aside from staff groups that act as unions in all but name such as A Better Ubisoft and the ABK Workers Alliance, Activision Blizzard have yet to acknowledge Proletariat Games’ union, but Raven Software won their union vote in May last year.
Former Naughty Dog writer and director Amy Hennig previously discussed the advantages of smaller development teams, and using more external contractors akin to TV and film production in an interview 2019. At the time she admitted “Obviously that would require a big sea change in the industry — probably towards unionization, too.”
GamesIndustry.biz report that The Game Developers Conference yearly State of the Industry Survey uncovered that 53% of participating developers felt the video game industry should unionize- down 2% from last year. 24% stated “maybe” this year, 13% were outright against the idea, while 10% didn’t know if the industry should.
Even though over half of the surveyed developers showed interest in unionization, 60% of them stated neither they nor their colleagues had discussed it. Only 22% had discussed unionization, and 19% didn’t know of any such discussions taking place.
What do you make of Straley’s claim that he’s not getting any credit or proceeds from the show and that unionization might be able to fix that problem?