On July 28, 16-year-old Kyle “Bugha” Giersdorf won the World Cup tournament of the Fortnite video game, raking up $3 million. In light of this, the latest episode of the Netflix show Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj traces the explosion of the gaming industry – and the horrors associated with it.
“Gaming culture is the new social currency, you can’t be a kid and not play Minecraft,” Minhaj said. According to data quoted in the episode, the gaming industry did business worth $139 billion in 2018, which was more than worldwide box office, music streaming and album sales, and America’s professional ice hockey league, baseball league, basketball league and football league – all combined.
But Minhaj also highlighted the labour exploitation and gender discrimination prevalent in the sector.
A common practice observed in video game manufacturing companies is called “crunch”, which means that the staff overworks right before the release of a game. Overtime “crunch” hours guarantee no extra pay to the workers, and are often associated with physical and mental health deterioration.
The workforce of the gaming industry is predominantly male. In such a situation, women have to endure through repeated incidents of gender-based discrimination and sexual harassment, with little or no punishment for the perpetrators.