2022 was a peak year for labor organization in the games industry, with a wave of successful industrial action at major studios. As labor issues in gaming became more public and widely discussed, industry workers have advocated for collective bargaining and union protection as a key component in the fight against endemic burnout and exploitation, as well as acute managerial abuses such as those documented on Activision Blizzard (opens in new tab)Riot and Ubisoft.

Organizations such as Game Workers Unite emerged in the late 2010s to advocate for labor in the games industry, as criticism of studio crunch culture attracted more attention. Employees of Stockholm-based studio Paradox Interactive successfully joined a union and signed a collective bargaining agreement with the company in 2020, but it was late 2021, leading up to 2022, that things really boiled over, resulting in the first successful union campaigns among major North American developers.

Raven QA

Game Workers Alliance logo

(Image credit: Game Workers Alliance)

In December 2021, Activision Blizzard laid off 12 quality assurance (game testing) employees at Raven Software, a long-lived FPS studio and co-developer of Call of Duty’s Warzone Battle Royale mode. Raven’s remaining QA personnel walked off the track in protest (opens in new tab)with other Activision Blizzard developers participating. With support from the broader worker advocacy group A Better ABK, the striking workers decided to unite and form the Game Workers Alliance through the Communications Workers of America.

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