The tech and gaming industry has always been filthy with bad practices in pay, workplace behavior, leadership, and more. It was brushed under the carpet for far too long and perhaps most loudly in 2021 than ever before, workers under some of the largest corporate banners in the scene said enough is enough. Workers' rights has been a constant fixture of the entire year and it can’t be said enough how much that goes to all of the employees and groups that have put their careers on the line for it.
It’s easy to look at #ABetterABK as one of the standard bearers of this movement in 2021. Blizzard Activision’s rotting guts have been laid bare before the world and whether Bobby Kotick or the Board of Directors will have jobs by this time next year remains in question for their wretched leadership, sweeping aside of issues, and efforts to bust unionization. However, all of their mistakes have become highly publicized thanks to #ABetterABK’s constant and vocal pressure. The workers and former employees under this banner have tirelessly demanded betterment of the company, including removal of toxic and dangerous leadership, equal treatment and compensation among employees of equal standing, and more.
That said, #ABetterABK is not alone. Having had issues publicized even before Activision Blizzard faced lawsuits, Ubisoft also had a group spring up with similar efforts in the form of #ABetterUbisoft. With Yves Guillemot and further Ubisoft leadership promising to better the publisher and then doing little to follow up, #ABetterUbisoft has strived to keep Ubisoft from burying the issues or pretending that there are no problems. #AppleToo has also worked to bring issues at Apple Inc. to light despite heavy resistance.
Whether you look at Activision Blizzard, Ubisoft, #AppleToo, unionization at Amazon, or even whistleblower Frances Haugen at Facebook, there has been a lot of employees inside and outside of games and tech that have put their livelihoods on the line to force corporate leads to be better. There’s no telling how far this story will go or how it will turn out, but every one of these people deserves praise for the risks they’ve taken. That’s why workers' rights groups are the Shacknews Best Trendsetter of 2021.