Game developer

Vodeo is North America’s First Certified Game Developer Syndicate

Workers at indie studio Vodeo Games unionized, giving North America its first-ever recognized game developer union. The union claims that Vodeo Games management voluntarily recognized the union and that 100% of eligible employees and contractors voted to unionize.

This first studio union could be the first of many to come, at a time when fair and safe working conditions are at the forefront of the collective consciousness of the industry.

The union is called Vodeo Workers United and was formed with the Communications Workers of America (CWA), an organization that helps employees organize into unions. The union says the process was unconventional because staff are completely remote and more than half of the union’s bargaining unit is made up of independent contractors. Vodeo is a very small studio, with only 13 employees listed on the the workshop website.

Vodeo Games is also a fairly new studio founded by Threes creator Asher Vollmer, who just released his first game earlier this year. The game, Beast Breaker, is a turn-based RPG with pinball physics that launched last September on Switch, Mac, and PC.

Although it is the first game studio union in North America, Vodeo Games claims to have been inspired by other groups working to create better working conditions for video game developers, including ABetterABK, which is made up of Activision Blizzard and King employees fighting for change.

Activision Blizzard Lawsuit Timeline: The Story So Far

However, unlike reports of sexual harassment, unequal pay and other significant issues coming out of Activision Blizzard, Vodeo employees say they are unionizing for other reasons. Talk to Polygon, CWA campaign manager Emma Kinema said it’s because workers are invested in the success of the company.

“They don’t organize because there’s a scary big boss, like Bobby Kotick or somebody else,” Kinema said. “They organize because they care so much about the work they do, and they want to have more of a say in how it’s done, the conditions in which they work to make these games that matter to them. to heart.”

United Workers Vodeo tweeted similar sentiments, saying, “By ensuring that more workers like us have a protected voice at work, we can set the precedent for new industry-wide standards that will improve our common working conditions.

Across the industry, studio workers are fighting for a better culture and working conditions. Last week, IGN shared the story of Bungie’s struggle for a better work culture. Bungie and Activision Blizzard are just two of many studios discussing working conditions and culture; a list that also includes Last of Us Part II dev Naughty Dog, Red Dead Redemption 2 creator Rockstar and Cyberpunk 2077 developer CD Projekt Red. The severity of the news also differs significantly from studio to studio, from Activision Blizzard’s huge troubles to Insomniac making headlines for successfully shipping Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart “completely crunch-free”.

Logan Plant is a freelance writer for IGN. You can find him on Twitter @LoganJPplant.