"The Rise of the Video Game Union" explains the what, why, and how of industry unions.

Games, News

Games and entertainment website Polygon has published an in-depth, free pamphlet on unionization in the games industry, including an explanation of what unions are, historical information about video game industry unions thus far, and information about how developers and studios can form unions themselves.

Titled “The Rise of the Video Game Union,” the 54-page pamphlet opens with a brief history of unions in the video game industry, beginning with an unsuccessful attempt by Atari workers in 1984 and culminating in recent efforts at multiple game studios.

It then goes on to explain why Polygon, which is part of the Vox Media Union under the Writers Guild of America East, is publishing such a pamphlet in the first place:

As journalists, our responsibility is to bring awareness to systemic injustice, hold the powerful accountable, foster transparency, and provide the public with the information and tools necessary to improve their lives, their workplace, and the world. That is why we feel it’s our obligation to share the story of game creators in the thick of this process — to provide service journalism in the same way we seek out collectibles and achievements in the industry’s biggest games. This is simply a recognition that, for workers across the industry, the status quo has failed.

The information in the pamphlet comes from converations with “dozens of workers” across the industry, and includes a resource section pointing to the American Federation of labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), the Campaign to Organize Digital Employees – Communications Workers of America (CODE-CWA), Game Workers Unite, Game Workers of Southern California, and others. It includes sections with titles such as “The Four Steps to Unionization,” “'Why I Want a Union'”, “How Companies Respond to Unionization,” and “How Dozens of Games Unions Could Form a Unified Force.”

As the pamphlet notes, unionization has been a growing topic around the games industry especially in recent years. Conversations picked up steam in 2018 at a GDC roundtable and continued in the years that followed. We've since seen unions form within Activision Blizzard and Vodeo Games in North America (though Vodeo sadly shut down earlier this year), and outside the US unions union efforts have resulted in a unionized Anemone Hug in Canada, Game Workers Australia, French union Le Syndicat des Travailleurs et Travailleuses du Jeu Vidéo, and others.

Rebekah Valentine is a news reporter for IGN. You can find her on Twitter @duckvalentine.

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