A Worker-Owned Game Studio Rises From the Wreckage of 'Skullgirls' Developer

Just a few weeks ago, the acclaimed developer of Skullgirls and Indivisible, Lab Zero Games, imploded in the wake of multiple waves of accusations against owner Mike "Mike Z" Zaimont, including allegations of inappropriate sexual comments and a toxic workplace. After a number of high-profile employees at Lab Zero quit in protest at a perceived lack of accountability and change, everyone else but Zaimont was unceremoniously laid off.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/7kpymg/a-worker-owned-game-studio-rises-from-the-wreckage-of-skullgirls-developer

Unsure exactly why but this has me feeling so hype today. Everyone quitting bc of their shitty owner then making a co-op is so powerful. Truly excited to see what they create!


“Future Club” is a great name and that logo is just chef kiss

I’ve never really been into their games but I’m so happy to see another worker-owned co-op in this industry. Solidarity!


It’s just nice to see a story of a group of people working to build a better structure for work and creating art than hoping that our flawed structures manifest something good.


First off the new logo is :fire:


the overall impression we came away with was that an actual co-op corporation—as in the legal entity—is still relatively unknown and misunderstood outside of certain industries in the US.

I don’t think this can be stated enough. Forming a company is already a lot of work, forming a co-op is even more.

Some co-ops pay every employee the same salary, but Future Club is likely to do something different, based on seniority and experience. This confronts an issue co-ops run into, as people’s situations are often different. Someone with two kids, for example, will need more money than someone who does not. The studio’s rules haven’t been completely laid out yet, but Esquenazi said they “will try to be as fair as possible” and all salaries will be transparent.

I think pay is the hardest part of running a co-op. How exactly do you determine what is fair.
Basing it on seniority is in my opinion a poor decision. Something I learned out of college pretty fast is just because someone might be 10-20 years your senior does not make them a better employee. I worked with a guy who was in his 40-50s and refused to use standard libraries and instead rolled his own input scrubbers which of course had resulted in a nightmare of security issues.
If you give everyone the same pay you run into problems like are mentioned such as individuals being in completely different parts of life. Someone with two kids needs more money to support their family then someone with none but that’s not going to stop that individual from feeling undervalued because they’re getting paid less. It also introduces a situation in which other companies and head hunters know for certain that certain roles at this company are paid below market value making them easier to steal.
This might be a controversial opinion but I think I would rather work at a co-op where people are paid out like in a normal company where certain positions are considered more valuable then others but everyones salary was 100% transparent so that you knew that the company isn’t screwing you or your co-worker over by paying 40% less then a similar skilled individual and you can use it when it comes time for you to ask for a raise. This solution is of course not perfect because it depends on people deciding on whose job is considered more valuable then another and that is it’s own debate.

This is of course not taking in other non-monetary benefits like PTO which I know people who will take a lower paying job if they can get more PTO, have a higher pay into their 401k by the company, ability to work from home, etc. I think people forget that benefits are 100% on the table when you get to the point in a job interview when you’re ironing out the details that get you to sign the paper.

If you do a flat pay structure do you do the same for benefits? Does this put the co-op at a disadvantage for hiring for certain positions? Does this mean there are certain levels of skill that you are likely not going to get because the company is not capable of compensating them what they feel they are worth?

Anyway these are just some random off the cuff thoughts, would love to hear some feedback!


Aevee Bee (of We Know The Devil and Heaven Will Be Mine) now works at this studio also!