Game

All Game Industry Associations, Explained


The game industry is changing. After years of building a foundation over the past decade, placed on social media and in the halls of gatherings like the Game Developers Conference, workers are organizing into unions in the fight against a history of overwork, underpayment and harassment. Unions are on the rise in the gaming industry as workers seek to create meaningful and sustainable change.

Industry change is following a national trend in workers’ organizations: Over the past few years, there have been an increase in union elections and unfair labor complaints when workers vow to make a difference in their workplace. You can also see this reflected in the headlines—besides union efforts at Activision Blizzard and Microsoft, campaigns are underway at major corporations like Apple, Google, and Starbucks.

These are game companies where workers are uniting. We will update this list as more unions emerge across the industry.

Activating blizzard

US-IT-GAMES-SEXISM-ACTIVISION

Photo: David McNew/AFP via Getty Images

Activision Blizzard made headlines in 2021 after the California Department of Civil Rights (formerly known as the Department of Fair Employment and Housing) sued World of Warcraft and publisher Call of Duty on allegations of widespread sexual harassment and discrimination. (Action Blizzard itself lawsuit CRD about litigation in 2022.) This sparked a series of allegations and lawsuits, including an $18 million lawsuit. with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Workers also took action: More than 1,000 workers come out in July 2021 and since then, organizing efforts have continued. Its three unions — two officially recognized through National Labor Relations Board elections — are made up entirely of quality workers. QA staff often feel belittled, low salary, unstable contract and overwork.

Activision Blizzard has repeatedly moved to block union efforts, maintaining the view that all workers at their respective studios should vote in union elections, not just QA staff. Numerous unfair labor complaints have been filed against the company, alleging anti-union sentiment and union bankruptcy.

As union efforts were underway at the company, Activision Blizzard converted all of its contract employees into full-time employees — an attribute of winning employees to the organizational effort.

Activision Blizzard is expected to be acquired by Microsoft as part of a $68.7 billion deal. US Federal Trade Commission is suing Microsoft in an attempt to challenge the agreement. After announcing the agreement, Microsoft has signed a neutrality agreement with Communications Workers of America, promising not to interfere with union efforts at the company. Some see Microsoft’s deal as an attempt to ease acquisitions through the FTC, but despite that, it benefits workers at Microsoft and potentially Activision Blizzard if the deal goes through. via.

Snowstorm Albany

Snowstorm Albany, formerly known as Vicarious Visionsworking on Blizzard Entertainment’s Diablo franchise, including the upcoming one Diablo 4. This is the second studio in Activision Blizzard to successfully merge; the QA staff there won their vote 14-0 in December 2022, after several alleged attempts to sabotage the union, according to the CWA.

The team’s next step is to enter contract negotiations with Activision Blizzard.

crow software

Raven Software is the first studio in Activision Blizzard to merge, an effort that began in December 2021 as Call of Duty: War Zone quality assurance employee go away from work to protest what they see as unfair dismissal of contract workers. The QA staffs announced their union push in January 2022 and met with resistance from Activision Blizzard: Management tried to restructure the company and stipulates that the QA bargaining unit is not eligible to vote. A judge ruled in favor of the QA union after the hearings, and the workers of Raven Software, known as the Game Workers Union, won the union vote in May 2022 and is represented by the CWA.

proletariat

Boston-based Proletariat Studios announced the filing of a union petition in late December 2022. spell break the developer was acquired by Activision Blizzard in June 2022; spell break has been discontinued and the team is currently working on World of Warcraft. An election has yet to be scheduled by the NLRB. Like the other consolidated studios at Activision Blizzard, Proletariat is represented by the CWA.

The proposed unit of the proletariat includes all positions outside of management – currently about 60 workers.

sea ​​anemone hug

A look inside the structure of a derelict spaceship in Hardspace: Shipbreaker

Image: Blackbird Interactive/Focus Home Interactive

The Union’s foothold in the gaming industry is not limited to the United States. Film studios in Canada are also working to streamline their workplaces. Anemone Hug Interactive developer, support Hard Space: Shipbreaker and currently working on an original game, vote in favor of unions in 2022. Anemone Hug’s Union is part of the Animated Association of Canada, the International Union of Local Theatrical Staff 938. IATSE primarily serves entertainment professionals worldwide. world, while British Columbia’s animation unit focuses on local animators — and now game developers.

Cards Against Humanity

card against humanity card sitting on the table.  The black card reads, “In a world ravaged by (gap), our only solace is (gap.)

Photo: Charlie Hall/Polygon

Cards Against Humanity workers, creators of the card game of the same name, consolidation in 2020 with the Chicago and Midwest Regional Union of Workers Council after a report alleges racist and sexist culture at the company; Cards Against Humanity management has recognized the unit and the team has successfully completed contract negotiations to secure better interests, including a successor clause. can be issued if the owner sells the company.

Workers at Cards Against Humanity may be the first in their industry to unite.

Studios keyword

Dragon Age: Inquisition - blue storm in the sky

Image: BioWare Edmonton/Electronic Arts

BioWare’s Support Contract QA Officer Dragon Age: Dreadwolf Keywords Studios’ Edmonton site voted to merge in June 2022. Like Anemone Hug, Keywords Studios is a Canadian studio; Their election passed the Alberta Labor Relations Board, where the group was organized under the Canadian Food and Commercial Workers Union, Local 401.

KWS Edmonton United, the union, started organizing after management executed a return-to-office order that workers disagreed with – travel costs were too high due to their low wages and studios didn’t have the time sick leave, they said.

Microsoft

Skyrim - a dragon perched on a spiral castle roared menacingly.  In the distance are mountains and sky.

Image: Bethesda Game Studio/Bethesda Softworks

Microsoft’s labor neutrality agreement with CWA goes into effect in June 2022, when it promises not to interfere with unionization at the company — including at Activision Blizzard, if the acquisition is successful. perform. This is not a common approach, according to labor experts, and may have been influenced by the acquisition itself, which is being closely monitored by the FTC. Regardless, the agreement benefits workers who want to organize with the CWA.

We witnessed it firsthand when the QA staff at some ZeniMax studios declare their wish to merge.

ZeniMax

About 300 QA workers at ZeniMax Media merged under CWA. The group, called ZeniMax Workers Solidarity, skipped an NLRB election due to Microsoft’s neutrality agreement. Instead, workers voted through a union authorization card or an online portal to demonstrate interest in the company. The majority of those 300 workers voted “yes” and Microsoft recognized the union.

It’s a much faster process than the traditional route, as evidenced by the efforts at Activision Blizzard. ZeniMax workers United includes workers at Bethesda Game Studios, id Software, and ZeniMax Online in offices in Maryland and Texas.

The next step is for ZeniMax to appoint a bargaining committee and move on to contract negotiations.

Paizo

The cover art for Pathfinder 2e's new Advanced Player Guide features a sea snake.

Photo: Paizo

United Paizo Workers was founded in 2021, making it one of the earlier unions in the industry. Paizo is one of the largest publishers of tablet role-playing games; it is responsible for both Pathfinder and Starfinder. Workers at the studio have accused the Washington state-based company of unfair pay, harassment and “inappropriate management.” Paizo voluntarily recognized the unionand collective bargaining began shortly thereafter.

UPW has reached tentative agreement with Paizo management on certain topics in early December 2022, including benefits, teleworking, time off and working hours. Negotiations will continue until both parties agree to all terms.

gentle claws

flamingos and other items combined in Virtual Reality

Image: Tender claws

Indie studio Tender Claws, based in Los Angeles, announced the coalition petition in July 2022 — the entire proposed unit supported the effort. The group is called Tender Claws Human Union, a nod to its game virtual reality virtual, which include an in-game alliance for humans working for AI. Tender Claws Management has recognized the alliance with representatives from the CWA; Contract negotiations began in November and are ongoing.

Vodeo game (now defunct)

A dialogue screen from Beast Breaker, featuring a bird and a mouse

Image: Game Vodeo

Vodeo’s debut game – and only – title is Animal Destroyera turn-based game mixed with a bit latch. The video game studio is now defunct, decommissioned in 2022 due to lack of funds. But the impact its workers make on the video game industry remains significant: Vodeo Worker United, represented by the CWA, is the first video game industry association in North America.

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