Vodeo Games staff form North America's first game studio union


Team hopes to set precedent for the industry

Independent outfit Vodeo Games is now officially recognized as the first unionized video game studio in North America. The certified motion, achieved in association with the Communication Workers of America, recognizes each and every U.S. and Canadian employee who partakes in full-time, part-time, remote, or contracted work with the company.

“All workers deserve a union and a say in how their workplace is run, no matter where they work, what their employment status is, or what kind of conditions they work under,” said Vodeo Games producer Myriame Lachapelle. “We have been inspired by the growing worker organizing within the gaming industry and hope we can set a new precedent for industry-wide standards that will better our shared working conditions and inspire others to do the same.”

Vodeo Games, which was founded earlier this year, operates an entirely remote working environment and has the modest aim of releasing one title per financial year. The studio’s first release, Beast Breaker, launched on PC and Nintendo Switch back in December. Speaking with Polygon, studio employees spoke of their pleasure at becoming the industry’s first recognized video game development union, along with the team’s hopes that it will set a growing precedent among the gargantuan developers and publishers frequently under fire for toxic and unhealthy working conditions.

vodeo games union beast breaker

“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 Worker… there was a lot going on,” said Vodeo employee and union member Carolyn Jong speaking with Polygon. “It felt like a natural next step for us to be talking about, ‘Hey, maybe we should be unionizing,’ and help set a positive precedent for the digital games industry as well.”

“We’re here to say, ‘Hey, it can be done,’” continues Lachapelle. “It’s often said that the digital game industry is special — that unions are good for other industries, like film, that it wouldn’t work for games, especially smaller indie teams. […] But everyone deserves a union, like three, or 10, or 200, or thousands of people.”

Lachapelle is right, of course. And while Vodeo Games might have found it a little easier than most to form the union — due to its small team and open and accepting management — it’s vitally important that all studios and publishers within the industry take steps to both protect and respect the healthcare, rights, and integrity of their respective employees, implementing real, documented, and legally-binding change to ensure that we no longer have to hear horrifying testimony of crunch, workplace abuse, discrimination, and unfair pay grades.

More certified unions and fewer ‘Workplace Responsibility Committees, if you please.

North America has its first video game union at Vodeo Games [Polygon]