Survey says 79 per cent of video game industry workers support unionisation

Issues of low pay, inadequate benefits and excessive work demands are also cited

A new survey of video game industry employees has found that almost 80 per cent would support unionisation efforts, with key industry issues including low pay, excessive work demands and inadequate benefits. 

The report was published today (June 16) by Uni Global Union, an organisation that helps workers with unionisation efforts across the globe, and it was conducted in partnership with the Strategic Organising Centre.

512 workers in the video game industry were questioned in the survey (not including those identifying as managers or executives) with 79 per cent of them saying they would either “definitely” or “somewhat” support a union, with 6 per cent saying the opposite.

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Of the video game workers surveyed, 66 per cent said low pay was an issue at their workplace, followed by excessive working hours at 43 per cent and workplace discrimination and/or sexual harassment at 35 per cent. Inadequate benefits and lack of job security were also sizeable issues for workers as well.

It’s worth nothing that Uni Global Union’s survey has a relatively small sample size – as of 2021 (according to Statista), Activision Blizzard alone had around 9,800 employees, with that number likely to exceed 10,000 as of publication. That said, Activision Blizzard developer Raven Software recently became the first major US studio to vote in favour of unionisation, with Microsoft set to honour the outcome when it acquires the company next year.

Modern Warfare 2 Warzone 2.0
Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. Credit: Infinity Ward

“This ground-breaking report reveals global trends of recurrent employee dissatisfaction that make working in the games industry, unfair, unequal and unsustainable for many workers,” said Christy Hoffman, general secretary of Uni Global Union. “Video games workers are coming to Berlin to deliver a strong message to the titans of the sector: it’s time to fight for our rights – we are going union.”

The Uni Global survey looks at video game workers from 29 different countries, with 39 per cent of respondents from AAA developers, 37 per cent from indie companies, and 23 per cent were freelancers (with localisation firms, middleware and mobile games making up the rest).

The report also dives into some key legal issues within the industry that need resolving, with increased access to employment rights for contractors being on of them. This means most “workers are usually bereft of fundamental labour rights, often including the freedom to associate.”

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Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. Credit: Nintendo

In April a number of Nintendo contractors spoke up about precisely this, highlighting how part-time video game workers at the company feel that their position has been abused.

Organisations like the Game Workers Alliance can be supported by those wishing to help unionisation efforts across the industry, with more cropping up every day.

In other news, only the session host in the upcoming Redfall will have their campaign progress tracked, meaning co-op players would need to repeat missions again with the same character used online

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