Resources for Fighting Harassment in Games Work
by Members of Game Workers Unite Toronto
What is This?
If you’re in the games industry, tech, media arts, or adjacent fields and are experiencing or witnessing workplace harassment or abuse, this page will provide you with the right resources to figure out next steps whenever you feel ready.
Workplace violence can take form in many different ways that aren’t limited to physical abuse — it may also look like rumour spreading, pranks, or any other behaviour that causes you psychological trauma. With the help of the resources below, we hope you can start to work through your own experiences of workplace violence and find the support you need.
Workplace harassment and abuse can, among so many other things, leave you feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, and isolated. If you’re experiencing sexual harassment and abuse in the workplace, here are a few resources to offer you some immediate guidance.
It’s also OK to take time for yourself, process everything that’s happening in a safe space, and move forward when you feel up to it. There’s no timeline for your healing — you get to decide the right time to find support.
The Ontario Women’s Justice Network has an extensive list of resources in Ontario and specifically within the GTA. It includes 24-hour emergency contacts and hotlines, counselling and family services, accessible criminal law supports, and much more.
The Hope for Wellness hotline can be used by Indigenous people looking for mental health support. You can chat through their website or call toll-free 1-855-242-3310, 24 hours, 7 days a week.
RAINN has a 24-hour sexual assault hotline. They're based in the US, but you can reach out through their online chat service.
Fellow workers in the US can reach out to the Games and Online Harassment Hotline.
If you’re facing personal or professional harassment online, Online SOS has accessible guides and resources to help you protect your virtual presence.
Know Your Rights
You have a right to feel safe in your workplace. If you, or someone you know, are facing harassment or abuse in your work environment, you can search through these resources to help understand your rights, as protected by the province.
Some of these documents are pretty dense, and it's easy to get overwhelmed in Legalese. If you need it, reach out, and GWU Toronto can help you get in touch with union organizers and lawyers to work through these resources together.
Please keep in mind that these resources do not constitute formal legal advice.
As a worker in Ontario, you have a right to not be discriminated against or harassed at work, as part of the Ontario Human Rights Code and the Occupational Health and Safety Act. For a full breakdown, read through Workplace Violence and Harassment in the Workplace: Understanding the Law.
GWU Toronto previously ran a Know-Your-Rights workshop for games workers with a labour lawyer. You can check out the slides here and can always reach out to us if you have more questions.
Also in Ontario, your rights in regards to workplace safety are guaranteed by law. Here, you can find more information about the Employment Standards Act, Pay Equity Act, and Labour Relations Act.
You have the option to file a harassment complaint in Ontario and remain anonymous. An inspector would look into whether your employer is complying with their workplace harassment policy or program requirements. They may issue a written order to your employer to comply with the law. You can call 1-877-202-0008 or follow this link.
Lending a Hand
If you're in a position to help a colleague, friend, or loved one navigate through their experiences of harassment or abuse, you can read through the links below to learn how to best support them.
Helping someone through a traumatic experience is a learned skill and can be difficult or upsetting for you too. It’s best to go in prepared, ready to listen, with strategies to figure out your next steps together.
The Different Games Collective ran a workshop about Supporting Survivors of sexual assault with Dr. Emily Dworkin. You can read the slide deck here.
Clinical Psychologist Dr. Emily Dworkin's website also has a list of resources which includes “First Aid” tips and scripts for helping a friend, peer, or co-worker work through trauma, sexual abuse, and harassment.
We know that harassment is a pervasive problem in the games industry and beyond, and abuses of power against our peers and fellow workers are rarely isolated incidents.
We believe that a structural change in the industry is needed to fight back against the prevalence of workplace harassment. If you, a peer, or a group of coworkers are dealing with pervasive workplace harassment, the resources below can help you start taking on the problem at its root.
You can follow or get in touch with the organizers at the CODE-CWA campaign, to learn about games and tech organizing, get organizer training, and talk to union reps about how to make changes at your studio.
GWU Toronto also runs organizer training sessions to teach you how to get a union drive happening in your workplace, based on demand. You can reach out through our sign-up form and we can find a time to chat with you.
A group of unions representing arts workers, including the Canadian Media Guild, and employer groups came together to write a Code of Conduct to address and prevent harassment in arts and culture workplaces.
Want to Talk?
This list of resources has been compiled by members of the Game Workers Unite Toronto Chapter. Got questions, comments or something you'd like us to add? Reach out!
In addition, below are some other game arts and labour organizations you can reach out to.
Dames Making Games (DMG) is a not-for-profit videogame arts organization that creates space for marginalized creators to make, play and critique videogames within a cultural context. They work to ensure that creators are empowered to express their identities and stories in a broad set of playful technologies, and that every person working in games in Canada is financially secure, treated fairly, and creatively free.
DMG offers anonymized and collective advocacy, active listeners, skills workshops on contract negotiations and HR issues; and healthcare, legal aid, financial aid counseling. There's an outline of other supports and benefits for members here.
Pixelles is a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering more women to make and change games. While based in Montreal, Pixelles organizes free monthly workshops, a mentorship program for aspiring women-in-games, game jams, socials, and other events that are open to all members of the game dev community.
Compiled by members of Games Workers Unite Toronto in 2020