Workers at Vancouver game developer Anemone Hug Interactive voted to merge, marking the first full-service game development studio to form a union in Canada.
Using the British Columbia certification process regulated by the province’s Labor Relations Board, the workers are now members of the Canadian Animation Association IATSE Local 938. Anemone Hug Interactive, launched in 2015, did work on games like Playstation’s The Art of Secret Ponchosand Steam’s Crossfire Legion and Hardspace Shipbreaker.
The merger of a full-service game studio also ushered in a new era of industrial relations in Canada’s rapidly growing video game industry. According to the Canadian Entertainment Software Association, video game companies in Canada generated about $4.3 billion in revenue in 2021, up 20 percent from pre-pandemic levels in 2019 and accounting for the most. more than the Hollywood-dominated Canadian film and television industries combined.
“For many years, game workers in Canada have worked without the benefits and protections of union collective agreement and without the power of union representation. Today, a clear message has been sent to game workers in every province – forming unions is not only possible; it was done,” John Lewis, IATSE International vp and director of Canadian affairs, said in a statement.
IATSE is looking for benefits on the negotiating table for video game workers to receive fair and consistent overtime pay during stressful working hours, protections against harassment, money low wages and other labor problems.
“IATSE is the largest entertainment association and our expertise in the field will ensure that workers from Anemone Hug Interactive get the representation they need and deserve,” said IATSE International president, Matthew D. Loeb said in his own statement.
“These workers have found a home in IATSE and game makers across Canada should use their success as inspiration to form their own workplace unions. By working together, game staff can have more control over their working conditions and can solve problems that have plagued the industry for years,” added Loeb.