GameDev Industry is Suffering From Stockholm Syndrome – But Trade Unions Can Help!

GameDev Industry is Suffering From Stockholm Syndrome - But Trade Unions Can Help!

GameDev Industry is Suffering From Stockholm Syndrome – But Trade Unions Can Help!

Hi from Gamechuck. This article was written as a result of our internal discussions and includes thoughts from Lucija (who is drafting the collective agreement in our company), Alex (the managing director), and Jan (our elected union representative).

As this dev blog is set on the backdrop of Labour day (1st of May), we’re taking the topical opportunity to write about a thing that interests us personally, and that’s trade unions.

As you probably heard, this is becoming a thing in the game development industry, with large op-eds like this one popping up here and there every now and then.

GameDev Industry is Suffering From Stockholm Syndrome - A blog about a trade union in game dev industry.
Game developers need to unionize –

Things suck

Last year we visited many industry events and were happy to see working conditions becoming more and more of a topic there as well as in media. Just last year Reboot Develop in Dubrovnik hosted a wonderful lecture “Game Creators and the Quest for Worker Rights” from Kate Edwards, the CEO of Geogrify and the former Executive Director of the International Game Developers Association (IGDA).

GameDev Industry is Suffering From Stockholm Syndrome - A blog about a trade union in game dev industry.
Ex-IGDA head Kate Edwards now convinced game devs need unions –

Even if a conference has no worker-themed talks, you never fail to hear at least a few “personal horror stories” from keynote speakers from their experiences working with the big leagues. It’s always a similar story – how the CEO or board of this or that company made a series of bad decisions that the workforce couldn’t do anything about or had no say in.

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Do our animals eat each other? No. And here’s an essay.

What do animals of the Kingdom eat? In the real world, carnivores and omnivores all eat other animals. It’s a bit of a “tough sell” when writing sentient animals. Not to imply that it can’t be pulled off – it’s been done a lot in fiction, but it’s just not what we wanted.

For example, Watership Down was filled with creepy scenes such as this one:

Can you pay rent? I think not. I. Think. Not.

However, in Watership Down it’s obvious that the cat and the rabbits are antagonistic, sworn enemies. This can easily be extrapolated to whole civilisations fighting against each other in a war for dominance, similar to the cat and mouse game Root:

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Even more favourite books from Ark Fantastic staff

Ark Fantastic staff recommends more books

If you’re still stuck at home, the Ark Fantastic staff brings more stuff for you to read!

We know, we know… A gargantuan amount of those unplayed games you have in your library won’t play themselves, and we won’t even mention all those movies and TV shows you might have in your watchlist.

But, come on! It’s a perfect time to read more books! Following our first part of our favourite books, we have asked the rest of our staff to give their say. And all of a sudden, you have more awesome books to read! So without further ado, read on!

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Everything you wanted to know about Charles (but were afraid to ask)

Today we’re talking about Charles the hedgehog. As our main protagonist, we decided it’s important to flesh out his life and history as early as possible. So here it is: the portrait of a scholar!

So cute!!! But don’t cuddle him – he is a prickly scholar!

Born in 1849, he was a child of Herbert, a distinguished scholar himself and a member of the new King’s council. As he grew up, he saw Pride shift from a quiet summer palace to the capital of the entire Animal Kingdom – things were never quite as peaceful in Pride as in those early years.

He enrolled in the Royal Academy in Pride in 1862, under the tutelage of Quorni, a turtle botanist in charge of the royal arboretum.
A turtle sketch. Is it Quorni? Doesn’t matter, all turtles look the same!

He graduated “summa cum laude” and continued his work in the royal arboretum where he wrote his first few “scholarly reports”.

His academic life from that point onward can be summed up into three distinct periods:

  1. The Quorni period
The roof of the Royal arboretum – Charles’ workplace for many years in Pride

From 1865 to 1874, Charles worked in the arboretum as an apprentice for Quorni, coauthoring many seminal works in botany, including forming the famous Quill-Quorni hypothesis.

For his outstanding work, Charles was awarded the Master Scholar’s Seal in Botany, becoming one of the rare botanists with the privilege of having their works published directly in the Royal Newspaper.

One of the royal arboretum’s roof on the inside – holding a rare tree called Ijustmadeupa Namea
  1. The Burrows period

When Quorni died in 1874, the emptied post of Head Botanist was thought to be taken over by Charles, but being such a young age, he believed he was not yet fit for such a high prestige position and it went to Gregury Cherni instead, a great botanist from a noble leopard family.

Charles himself settled in the Burrows, a quiet mining town not far away from Pride, where he set up his lab and started expanded his work to include geology (researching the Burrows cliffs), microscopy, and other things needed to build and maintain his own botanical lab.

This is Charles’ lab in the Burrows, and where you start the whole game.

Due to the unexpected use of his work on reflective surfaces (for a new series of microscopes), he was awarded the Master Scholar’s Seal in 1878. He was now privy of publishing any scholarly report, regardless of subject, straight to the Royal Newspapers, a rare accomplishment for such a young scholar, especially from someone in the commoner caste.

His seminal work was, however, came in 1883 – an encyclopedic endeavor to list all the Kingdoms fruit, vegetables and plant-life. A feat that required skill, perseverance, knowledge and no small amount of nerves to compile.

  1. The Ark period

After five years as a Master Scholar and with many botanical masterpieces written so far, he was now called back to Pride by King Lav.

After botany, geology and engineering, he is about to be pushed in yet another field – history and arkology.

This time, the research will not be done in the safety of his home, but across the far reaches of the Kingdom, and beyond.

Will he live up to his reputation? Wait for the game and see. Until then – like, subscribe, follow, and join our Discord!

Ark Fantastic staff recommends their favourite books

It’s still quarantine, and you somehow have to kill this boring period

So, you’re stuck at home, watching boring TV shows over and over, playing those boring games while waiting for the best RPG adventure out there (ha, see what we did there), and you’ve tried every possible recipe that contains flour. What to do… what to do? Read books, of course!

We are also in the quarantine, and while we are not working on Trip the Ark Fantastic, we are also trying our best to kill time, so, therefore, we are bringing a series of “Our favourite” which contains our favourite books, games, films and TV shows. In today’s repertoire?

Our favourite books

For this “Our favourite” blog, we have gathered six of our staff to tell us what are their favourite books in their life, and why. So if you’re looking for something great to read, look no further!

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This week in ark lore, we discuss estateology. What is estateology? It’s a branch of “science” in the Animal Kingdom that tries to explain why certain Animals belong to certain castes.

It is a form of pseudo-science, even though it is not considered that by the Animals in the Kingdom. We take a cue from real-life existing pseudo-scientific ideas such as Biblical literalist chronology or the descriptive parts of eugenic theories, as well as phrenology, etc.

As our game deals with science and its relation to mythology, this pseudo-science which tries to bridge the two is an important motif that the player will encounter and investigate several times through the course of the game, and will have to form an opinion towards it.

French revolution
From the French “estates”, or classes, which are one of the inspirations for the Kingdom’s caste system.

It was invented when the first new animals were found in the Southern Continent, and an approach on how to fit them into the castes was needed. As the Ark mythos states: “All Animals were of the Ark, and all are now of the Kingdom”. The statement was previously descriptive – it told of how the world is, and afterwards, when it was shown that there are Animals who didn’t even know there was a Kingdom to be a part of, it had to be prescriptive.

Rejecting the doctrine would have been fatal for the Kingdom, as it discouraged dissenters from leaving or forming new communities by framing the Kingdom as civilisation itself, or even civility itself. ‘Where would you even go?’ they ask, ‘There is nobody and nothing outside the Kingdom.’ The important aspect of the doctrine was that there was no alternative to the Kingdom, even in theory, there simply didn’t exist any successful societies outside of the Kingdom, only dens of bandits and lunatics doomed to failure within a generation.

Obligatory picutre of the ark caste system mural in the Pride library…

To make sure that the idea of no alternative to the Kingdom alive and well, the Kingdom had to take a certain stance towards the natives: The Kingdom had to pretend that these natives never had a society, that they are simply backward savages who never figured out a form of social organisation beyond small villages. The Kingdom cannot abide by the idea that they have another ‘country’ as an enemy. Or any outside enemies at all. There is no one outside, so who could be an ‘outside enemy’?

Specifically, this means that the Kingdom denies that there is a Monkey society, let alone a Monkey Country or Kingdom. There is a Monkey culture, that’s not problematic, after all there is such a thing as a Squirrel Culture.

However, if these natives were once part of the Ark, which caste did they belong to? And in answering that, the scholars wish to answer – which caste should they belong to now? This is the field of “estateology”.

Within estateology, there are many possible approaches or schools of thought. However, all sides agree on the basic premise: the Castes reflect a certain inherrent moral aptitude, ie. the Cats are somehow better than the lower caste. Where this quality comes from is a matter of debate, and that’s how the schools are distinguished. The main two schools of thought are these:

  1. Historical Realism – The historical realists believe belonging to a caste is question of historical merit: the animals belong to a caste based on the merit of their behavior on the Ark (and by extension, Civilisation). The placement in the castes is like a criminal sentence/meritocracy and reflects a presendent for the behaviour of a certain species.

Thus, the historical realists consider the newfound animals in the colony (the natives) as part of the vermin caste (unless perhaps there is extensive mythological evidence to the contrary–an ancient mural for instance). The logic is simple: only Vermin would abandon the great cause of the Lion Kingdom, and since the native animals are not part of the kingdom, they must have abandoned it long ago, therefore they are Vermin.

This approach puts the newfound natives neatly in a caste, but doesn’t solve the more minute problems of the Kingdom – such as the “Mongrel Lord”: a Lion/Tiger hybrid who ruled an important noble family a few hundred years ago.

Liger Facts | Big Cat Rescue
You’ve never heard of a liger before?
  1. Biological Descriptivism: Animals in each Caste have certain biological features in common, if you could only determine which features are salient for each Caste you could sort any conceivable animal into its appropriate caste. For instance: Commoners are small, Vermin have scales, Stewards are large and have imposing teeth or horns, etc.
Neuroscientists put the dubious theory of 'phrenology' through ...
Kind of like phrenology.

By using biological descriptivism, the Natives species would have to be allocated to the appropriate castes based on their physical attributes, not merit. So, for example, monkeys, as small animals, would be put in the commoner caste. A bigger issue arises with animals such as crocodiles – who have features both of vermin (scales) and of burghers (large bodies).

One of the prime estateologists of the Kingdom – Germaine, Keeper of the Ark Hall, is a biological descriptivist, but both of the schools have equal footing in the Kingdom currently.

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Worldbuilding with Nuclino

Worldbuilding with Nuclino


Ok, so if you remember December, we used it to give shout-outs to the tools we use (Ink, Godot Engine and Krita). Well, there is another tool we found in the meantime which we feel is really great not only for game-developers but also world-builders, dungeon-masters, anybody who needs to keep track of things in a wiki-fashion and quickly edit/change things, and (as in our case) collaborate on this.

So, without further ado, today we talk about Nuclino. It’s a “lightweight and collaborative wiki for all your team’s knowledge, docs, and notes.”

Beware: unlike other software we use in Gamechuck, this one is neither free nor open-source, but it is freemium, so you can try it out first with a full feature-set for a few weeks!

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The tale of Coriolanus

The tale of Coriolanus the eagle

Despite being an eagle lord from the Aviary, Coriolanus has lived an ascetic life. When he came of age, he was sent to Blackbark for schooling in the academy, where he focused on a field called bureauology. It is the study of the efficient organization of the Kingdom. It was a dull field concerned with trying to reorganize offices and procedures to add more efficiency. This appealed to Coriolanus as he has a very militaristic and machinistic mind.

Before finishing his years in Blackbark, he received news of the attack on the Aviary . As Lav’s Rebellion just started, the eagle lord was rumored to side with Lav, and was attacked to prevent this. Leopold didn’t think that Coriolanus, being a very conservative and militaristic hierarchic mind, would side with Lav. But, being proud and driven by revenge for his father’s death, he did.

He took the remaining birds from the ashen remains of the Aviary and flew to wage furious war on Leopold. His war victories were already folklore during the war and his machismo charisma sometimes won battles without fighting them – the population just switching over due to his legendary status.

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What other games are we cooking?

What other games are we cooking?

As you probably know, Trip the Ark Fantastic is being developed by Gamechuck. Since it’s going to be a long time till we release this juggernaut of an RPG, we invite you to try out our other games:

Our first video game (All You Can Eat) is on sale till next Thursday! So be sure to grab it for a measly 50 cents and enjoy the half an hour of lighthearted comedy / point-and-click adventure!

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