The use of artificial intelligence in the development of games has been a hot topic in the industry with several publishers looking for ways to employ the technology, ensuring the safety of employees. The videogame union ZeniMax Workers United (ZWU) has now reached an agreement with ZeniMax Media’s parent company Microsoft to govern how the company will use generative AI for game development.
This is the first such agreement in a US technology company and the video game industry as well. The deal will allow 376 members of ZWU to tentatively choose how the company adopts artificial intelligence in the workplace.
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There are six “guiding principles” that were announced by Communications Workers of America earlier this month and Microsoft’s studios that use artificial intelligence in its future games will have to follow these principles. In simple terms, all games from Arkane, Bethesda, and id Software that are owned by ZeniMax will follow the principles if they implement artificial intelligence at the workplace for game development.
The guiding principles as announced by Communication Workers of America (CWA) include fair, reliable and safe, private and secure, inclusive, transparent, and accountable. This agreement between Microsoft and ZWU aims to protect workers in the video game industry against technologies like artificial intelligence.
Moreover, this deal will ensure that the use of artificial intelligence enhances workers’ “productivity, growth, and satisfaction.” ZeniMax has also complied to inform the workers’ union in case the use of artificial intelligence impacts the workers. Dylan Burton, Senior QA Tester and member of ZWU spoke about the agreement and said:
Coming to this agreement was a high priority for us. It’s hard to say how developments with A.I. may impact our work, but now we can be more confident that the agreement will help to protect us as we navigate the potential adoption of A.I. into our workflow.
It is crucial that all workers have a voice in what role A.I. plays in their work and can hold their employers accountable for the impacts of its use. This agreement empowers us to shape the ways we may choose to use A.I. in our work and also gives us the means to address those impacts before their potential implementation.
Claude Cummings Jr., President of Communications Workers of America (CWA) stated that this agreement will help protect workers against the threats that artificial intelligence poses to them. Cummings Jr. stated:
This tentative agreement underscores how collective bargaining can give workers a voice in the ways emerging technologies like A.I. are implemented in the workplace. Worker input is critical for ensuring that A.I. is human-centered, and this legally binding agreement will help protect both workers and consumers from potential harms.
ZWU was founded earlier this year when 300 quality assurance workers at ZeniMax formed a union under the umbrella of Communications Workers of America and Microsoft recognized the union rather than opposing it like other major publishers. This was in accordance with the labor neutrality agreement between CWA and Xbox when the company was trying to acquire Activision Blizzard.
The company has also recently allowed 77 contract workers to join the union and out of these workers, 23 became full-time employees, and the rest of the employees will receive increased pay. All of these employees will also be getting a free copy of Starfield as they had worked as testers on the game.
The company will also remain neutral if workers from the recently acquired Activision Blizzard express interest in forming a union. The company has also partnered with artificial intelligence company Inworld AI and will work together to develop artificial intelligence tools for Xbox studios to help in game development.
The tools are “design copilot” and “character runtime engine” which helps designers with more creative ideas such as detailed scripts and dialogues and character runtime enables game developers to generate “new narratives with dynamically-generated stories, quests, and dialogue.”
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