Pro-union activists with the Game Workers Alliance were reportedly “intimidated” by police while picketing outside the Game Awards 2022, with a claim of a ‘Labor Creates Games’ pin being taken away by security and a reported attempt to stick activists in the so-called “Free Speech Zone.”
The Game Awards broke viewership records with over 3.4 million viewers at its peak, getting more eyes on video games and the people who make them than ever before.
Jessica Gonzalez, an organizer of the Game Workers Alliance and the founder of the ABetterABK movement, was picketing alongside other activists outside of the Game Awards with signs that read ‘The Game Worker Awards’ and buttons that read ‘Labor Makes Games’ to spread their message.
Dexerto interviewed Jessica to ask about her experience at the event and some details about her interaction with the police and security at the Game Awards.
Pro-union protesters put in the “free speech zone”
According to Gonzalez’s account of the evening, those picketing in front of the event had the police called on them by event security. This resulted in an interaction with the LAPD, one that Gonzalez detailed in Dexerto’s interview with her.
“Going into the event, we consulted with LAPD’s labor division and a lawyer. We knew that we were legally protected to hold our informational picket outside of the venue where we were. It was public property, but security didn’t want us there (we looked bad for business, I guess), so they tried to intimidate us away by grabbing the LAPD and saying that this was a private event. We asserted our rights, and they said they’d be back to construct the Free Speech Zone in 20 minutes.”
The third picture in this tweet shows the group having a run-in with the LAPD, and the fourth picture shows the aforementioned “Free Speech Zone” set up for those picketing at the event. Gonzalez claimed she and the other attending activists ignored it and remained outside the entrance.
“We were allowed to be outside of the entrance. They had to concede and deal with the fact that we had rights and not what they wanted us to have for rights.”
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Additionally, there was a report from an attendee by the name of Ellie having their pin confiscated by security upon trying to enter the Game Awards. We asked Gonzalez if she could shed any light on this event.
“I was made aware of one incident where a developer was given a pin and then walked inside, the security told her that he couldn’t let her inside with that (pointing to the pin she just put on), and she had to toss it in the bin. That was the only incident I am aware of, and I think it’s because the security guard saw us give it to her.”
That said, Gonzalez hadn’t heard about any other incidents involving the removal of ‘Labor Makes Games’ buttons and claimed that other developers entered without issue.
“I heard more devs made it into the venue wearing the pins proudly. As long as devs were showing solidarity with the pins ‘Labor Creates Games,’ I had no complaints, even if security was being childish.”
When asked why security at the Game Awards would want to remove pro-union messaging from the event, she had this to say:
“This event usually only highlights the executives and not the rank-and-file workers. Unions are scary to companies because they’ve gotten their millions in bonuses from wage theft. Of course, they don’t want labor unions telling developers they have rights.”