Happy Wednesday, gaming lovelies! Hope you’re recovering with cool games after last week’s northeastern heatwave. Oh, oh! It’s my favorite time of year for gorgeous LARP photos. Why, you ask? It’s the week after the post-apocalyptic LARP, OldTown, that takes place on an abandoned airfield in Poland. Attendees go all out and to create this Mad Max vibe world. Be sure to check out this set from Facebook user wCzarnymObiektywie.

Netflix’s The Witcher Teaser Trailer is Here

The Witcher fans, unite! The official teaser trailer has dropped! During last week’s San Diego Comic-Con buzz, the Hall H panel gave us a peek at the anticipated series, centered on the monster hunter Geralt of Rivia, played by Henry Cavill of Superman fame. Although the series will be based on the Polish books, the video game titles are what popularized the series in the US. Speculation abounds that the series might be the new Games of Thrones.

LuckyHammers Lays Off Staff and Closes Down

The latest in game studio closings is Montreal-based developer LuckyHammers. On July 18, they closed their doors with 70 people losing their jobs. Perhaps best known for their partnership with Asmodee Digital, they created digital gaming experiences of board games like Terraforming Mars, Catan and the upcoming Mansions of Madness. The owners sited financial woes between VR project returns and publishing partner issues. 

This Week In Crunch

As games and the gaming industry get larger and more ambitious, developers and studios have taken to forcing mandatory overtime on their workers to meet deadlines and demand. This controversial and exploitative workplace culture—where employees are overworked, underpaid, and burnt out, followed frequently by mass layoffs and ever-increasing wage inequality between workers and high-paid executives—is known as “crunch.” TWIC is a column within a column where Emily Durham brings you news about this week’s world of crunch.

Y’all, I’m not gonna lie. I’m exhausted. But I’m still here, I’m still very, very queer, and I’m still bringing you news about crunch.

But here’s the thing: Kotaku did a great roundup of stories about the unsustainability of crunch this week, so I’m gonna just direct you over there this time. (Seriously, check it out, there’s a lot in there.) Here, I’m going to take a momentary step back from bearing witness to the negatives of the industry and instead, I’m going to focus on some hope. For me, and for you.

The thing I want to focus on this week is that Take This, a nonprofit dedicated to addressing mental health problems in the game industry, recently announced that five games companies—Big Huge Games, Bungie, Certain Affinity, Wooga, and Zenimax—have formed a working group to address issues in the video games industry. Representatives from each company will meet with Take This once a month to share data and resolve crunch and stress issues in the games industry, including job security, diversity, and harassment.

I just—

It’s just so nice to see a few companies even ostensibly trying to make a change in crunch culture. Yes, the need for this at all is predicated on a highly exploitative culture of executives profiting on the labor of their workers, but people are starting to actually see the issues and address them, rather than pretending they don’t exist. The more we publicly talk about crunch, the more it’s addressed. And the more the workers organize, the more likely it is that these workplace abuses will be eliminated.

My point, friends, is that gamers and game developers alike are starting to talk more openly about crunch in the industry, and the unionization efforts we’re beginning to see are a very good thing.

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