All game industry associations, explained

The gaming industry is changing. Over the past decade, after years of grassroots work built on social media and in boardrooms like the Game Developers Conference, workers are unionizing to fight a history of overwork, low pay and harassment. Unions are on the rise in the gaming industry as workers strive to make meaningful, lasting change.

The industry shift follows a nationwide trend in labor organizing: The past few years have seen an increase in union elections and unfair labor complaints as workers vow to make workplace changes. You can see this reflected in the headlines too – with campaigns underway at major corporations like Apple, Google and Starbucks, along with solidarity efforts at Activision Blizzard and Microsoft.

These are gaming companies where employees are unionized. We will update this list as more unions form in the industry.

Activision Blizzard

Photo: David McNew/AFP via Getty Images

Activision Blizzard made headlines in 2021 after suing the California Department of Civil Rights (formerly known as the Department of Fair Employment and Housing). World of Warcraft and Call of Duty publisher for rampant sexism and harassment. (Activision Blizzard itself sued CRD over the lawsuit in 2022.) This led to numerous accusations and lawsuits, including an $18 million settlement with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Workers also took action: more than 1,000 workers walked out in July 2021, and organizing has continued ever since. Its three unions — two officially recognized by National Labor Relations Board elections — are made up entirely of quality assurance workers. QA workers often feel they are neglected, underpaid, have unstable contracts, and are subjected to brutal work.

Activision Blizzard has repeatedly moved to block unionization efforts, arguing that all employees at the respective studios should vote in union elections, not just QA employees. Many unfair labor complaints were filed against the company due to anti-union sentiment and union busting.

As unionization efforts continued at the company, Activision Blizzard converted all contract workers to full-time employees—an attribute to organize the workers’ efforts.

Activision Blizzard expects to be acquired by Microsoft as part of a $68.7 billion deal. The US Federal Trade Commission is suing Microsoft to challenge the deal. After announcing the deal, Microsoft signed a neutrality agreement with the Communications Workers of America, promising not to interfere with unionization efforts at the company. Some see the deal as an attempt by Microsoft to make it easier to get through the FTC, but regardless, it benefits Microsoft and potentially Activision Blizzard employees.

Blizzard Albany

Blizzard Albany, formerly known as Vicarious Visions, is working on Blizzard Entertainment’s upcoming Diablo franchise. Diablo 4. It was the second studio to successfully merge within Activision Blizzard; QA workers there won the vote 14-0 in December 2022 after a series of union-busting attempts, according to the CWA.

The next step for the group is to begin contract negotiations with Activision Blizzard.

Raven Software

Raven Software is the first studio to merge within Activision Blizzard, an effort that began in December 2021. Call of Duty: Warzone QA employees have gone on strike to protest the unfair dismissal of contract workers. QA workers announced a unionization in January 2022 and faced resistance from Activision Blizzard: Management attempted to restructure the company and rule that the QA bargaining unit had no voting rights. After a hearing, the judge ruled in favor of the QA union, and Raven Software workers, called the Game Workers Alliance, won the union vote in May 2022 and were represented by the CWA.


Boston-based studio Proletariat announced a union petition at the end of December 2022. Spellbreak the developer was acquired by Activision Blizzard in June 2022; Spellbreak closed and the team is now working on it World of Warcraft. An election has not yet been scheduled by the NLRB. Like the other combined studios in Activision Blizzard, Proletariat is represented by CWA.

Proletariat’s proposed division includes all non-management positions – currently about 60 employees.

Anemone Embrace

A look at the structure of the derelict spaceship in Hardspace: Shipbreaker

Photo: Blackbird Interactive/Focus Home Interactive

The Union’s stake in the gaming industry is not limited to the United States. Studios in Canada are also taking steps to organize their workplaces. Developer Anemone Hug Interactive, supporting Difficult location: shipwreck and is currently working on an original game, voted in favor of the union in 2022. The Anemone Hug union is part of the Animation Guild of Canada, Local 938 of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Workers. IATSE primarily serves entertainment workers internationally, while the British Columbian animation division focuses on local animation workers and now game developers.

Cards Against Humanity

Cards Against Humanity are cards sitting on the table.  the black card reads: “(blank space) is our only solace in a world destroyed by (blank space).

Photo: Charlie Hall/Polygon

Employees of Cards Against Humanity, the maker of the card game of the same name, joined the Chicago and Midwest Regional Labor Joint Council in 2020 following a report alleging a racist and sexist culture at the company; Cards Against Humanity management recognized the division and the group successfully completed contract negotiations to secure better benefits, including a succession clause. This can take effect if the owners sell the company.

The workers at Cards Against Humanity were probably the first workers in their industry to form a union.

Keywords Studios

Dragon Age: Inquisition - green storm in the sky

Photo: BioWare Edmonton/Electronic Arts

Contract QA staff supporting BioWare Dragon Age: Dreadwolf Voted to merge in June 2022 at Keywords Studios’ Edmonton location. Like Anemone Hug, Keywords Studios is a Canadian studio; their selection went through the Alberta Labor Relations Board, where the group was organized under the United Food and Commercial Workers of Canada Union, Local 401.

KWS Edmonton United began organizing after management implemented a back-to-the-office order workers disagreed with — low wages and high commuting costs, given the studio’s lack of paid sick leave, they said. .


Skyrim - a dragon perched on a castle spiral roared menacingly.  There are mountains and sky in the distance.

Photo: Bethesda Game Studios/Bethesda Softworks

Microsoft’s labor neutrality agreement with the CWA took effect in June 2022, when it promised not to interfere with union organizing at the company, including Activision Blizzard. This is not a common approach, according to labor experts, and may have been influenced by the FTC’s oversight of the purchase itself. Regardless, the deal benefits workers who want to unionize with the CWA.

We saw this firsthand in practice when QA staff at several ZeniMax studios announced they wanted to form a union.


About 300 QA workers at ZeniMax Media have formed a union under the CWA. A group called ZeniMax Workers United avoided the NLRB election because of Microsoft’s neutrality agreement. Instead, workers voted through union authorization cards or an online portal to prove their interest in the company. The vast majority of those 300 employees voted yes, and Microsoft recognized the union.

It was a faster process than the traditional way, as evidenced by the efforts at Activision Blizzard. ZeniMax Workers United includes employees at Bethesda Game Studios, id Software and ZeniMax Online in their Maryland and Texas offices.

The next step is for ZeniMax to appoint a bargaining committee and proceed with contract negotiations.


The cover for the new Advanced Players Guide to Pathfinder 2e features a sea serpent.

Photo: Paizo

United Paizo Workers was founded in 2021, making it one of the earlier unions in the industry. Paizo is one of the largest tabletop role-playing game publishers; responsible for both Pathfinder and Starfinder. Employees at the studio accused the Washington state-based company of pay inequality, harassment and “management inadequacy.” Paizo voluntarily recognized the union and collective bargaining began shortly thereafter.

UPW has reached a tentative agreement In early December 2022, with guidance from Paizo on certain topics, including benefits, telecommuting, time off and work hours. The deal will continue until both parties agree to all the terms.

Delicate paws

flamingos and other objects gathered together in Virtual Virtual Reality

Photo: Tender Claws

Los Angeles-based indie studio Tender Claws announced a union petition in July 2022 – with the entire proposed division supporting the effort. The band is called Tender Claws Human Union, a nod to their game Virtual Virtual Reality, Contains in-game unity for humans working for AI. Tender Claws management recognized the association with CWA representation; contract negotiations began in November and are ongoing.

Vodeo Games (now defunct)

A dialogue screen with a bird and a mouse from Beast Breaker

Image: Vodeo Games

Vodeo Games’ debut – and only – title Beast Breakera slightly confusing turn-based game Peggle. The video game studio is now defunct, closing in 2022 due to lack of funds. But its workers’ impact on the video game industry is still significant: Vodeo Workers United, represented by the CWA, was the first video game industry union in North America.

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