Members of the Raven Software QA team, who have been striking over unfounded layoffs, have formed a union. According to Bloomberg’s Jason Schreier, the Game Workers Alliance Union is the first-ever union for the North American AAA video-game industry and consists of 34 people.
A full report from Bloomberg contains a statement from Brent Reel, quality assurance lead at Raven Software. “It’s extremely important that workers have a real seat at the table to positively shape the company going forward,” he said.
Activision Blizzard has refused to acknowledge the strike, which has been ongoing for over a month.
When Microsoft purchased Activision Blizzard earlier this week, one of the studios included was Raven Software. During an interview with the Washington Post, unions were brought up. “I’m going to be honest, I don’t have a lot of personal experience with unions,” Spencer said. “I’ve been at Microsoft for 33 years. So I’m not going to try to come across as an expert on this, but I’ll say we’ll be having conversations about what empowers them to do their best work, which as you can imagine in a creative industry, is the most important thing for us.”
Microsoft’s employees are not unionized.
The Game Workers Alliance Union has posted its principles via Twitter. They ask that Raven Software and Activision leadership voluntarily recognize their union without retaliation or interference.
- Solidarity: The voices of workers should be heard by leadership. By uniting in solidarity, we can ensure our message is further reaching, and more effective.
- Sustainability: Shortened development timelines sacrifice project quality and damage the mental and physical health of our team. “Crunch” is not healthy for any product, worker, or company.
- Transparency: Leadership must communicate openly and frequently about any decisions that will affect the working life of their employees. Work and quality of life suffer when changes are unpredictable and explanations are withheld.
- Equity: Quality Assurance Testers deserve respect, appropriate compensation, and career development opportunities. Quality Assurance is currently an undervalued discipline in the games and software industries. We strive to foster work environments where Quality Assurance Testers are respected and compensated for our essential role in the development process.
- Diversity: All voices deserve to be heard. Empowering underrepresented voices is key to fostering a truly creative and successful work environment.
These principles all address significant issues concerning game development. Working environments are not ideal; crunch, a lack of transparency, substandard diversity and inclusion, and cultures of harassment and misogyny are all unfortunate parts of the industry, but they don’t have to be.
The Game Workers Alliance Union now joins Vodeo, who unionized last month, as organized unions in game development.