He may not be a household name yet, but the folks at Vodeo Games are trying to set a positive example for their industry. The studio that was established this year by threes Designer, Asher Vollmer, has successfully joined CODE-CWA – Communications Workers of America campaign to organize digital employees.
Working from various locations in the US and Canada, the 13-team remote team is an unusual case for several reasons. Above all, nearly half of the bargaining unit are independent contractors – usually the exact type of workers who have been disqualified or deemed ineligible for a union.
And while much of the pressure to standardize digital workspaces in recent years has focused on reducing abuses by management and wage imbalances, Vodeo doesn’t seem to stem from the need to correct course away from impending disaster. Instead, their desire to unite appears rooted in a desire to maintain an equitable workplace. “They don’t organize because there’s a big scary boss out there, like Bobby Kotick or someone else,” CODE-CWA campaign leader Emma Kinema told Polygon. “They organize because they care so much about the work they do, and they want to have more say in how they get it done — the conditions they work in to make those games that they actually care about.”
As Kinema hints, the game industry has been going through a period of great internal turmoil. Whistleblowers within Rocksteady, Riot, Wildlife and Quantic Dream have detailed harassment and discrimination. There has also been growing opposition to industry practices such as “Crisis,” where studios require massive overtime from staff in order to reach their target release dates. Some Activision-Blizzard employees have left their jobs, demanding, among other things, the resignation of their CEO, Bobby Kotik. They have created a strike fund and are in the midst of their own union campaign.
“All workers deserve a union and a say in how their workplace is run, regardless of where they work, their job status, or what kind of conditions they work under,” Myriam LaChapelle, a producer at Vodeo Games, wrote in a statement to the press. “We have been inspired by the growing labor regulation of the gaming industry and hope we can set a new precedent for industry-wide standards that will improve our common working conditions and inspire others to do the same.”
Vodeo released its first game, beagle-like an RPG monster breakers In September to largely positive reviews. It’s available for PC, Mac, and Switch.
All products recommended by Engadget are handpicked by our editorial team, independently of the parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.