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North America gets its first video game studio union

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Workers at Vodeo Games have unionised, creating North America’s first ever official video game studio union.

Vodeo Workers United consists of roughly 13 full-time employees and contractors working remotely across the US and Canada, and has been voluntarily recognised by Vodeo’s management.

In an interview with Polygon, Vodeo designer Carolyn Jong explained the motivations behind the step: “We were really inspired by what a lot of our colleagues were doing in the game industry and the tech industry and beyond – Voltage Organized Workers, United Paizo Workers … there was a lot going on”.

“It felt like a natural next step for us to be talking about, ‘Hey, maybe we should be unionising,’ and help set a positive precedent for the digital games industry as well.”

Vodeo, founded by Threes creator Asher Vollmer, released its first game, Beast Breaker, back in February.

Vodeo game director Chris Floyd said the studio’s workers wanted to set an example to workers in other studios: “We’re looking at the wider industry, and all of us were aware of how necessary these kinds of steps are for our industry.”

Unionisation has become a salient issue in the industry, particularly as growing reports of a toxic workplace culture and mass layoffs at Activision Blizzard’s studios have led to a push for unionisation there.

The significance of the region’s first video game studio union then cannot be understated, especially since triple-A publishers like Activision have made moves which workers say actively discouraged unionisation.

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