The support studio that worked on Hardspace: Shipbreaker, Crossfire Legion, and Secret Ponchos has voted to form a union with The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE).
Anemone Hug provides creative, technical, and business services for both AAA and indie studios. They were founded in Vancouver in 2015 and are now the second Canadian game studio to form a labor union.
Here’s what John Lewis, the vice president of IATSE had to say about it:
For years, game workers in Canada have been working without the benefits and protections of a union collective agreement and without the strength of union representation. Today, a clear message has been sent to game workers in every province—forming a union is not only possible; it has been done.
It’s a lofty speech for a tremendous accomplishment, although it implies that they were first, which isn’t quite correct. Anemone Hug unionized after Keywords Studios, which is currently working on the newest Dragon Age game. I’m guessing that he’s splitting hairs on the fact that only some of Keywords had unionized, rather than the entire multinational company.
Kotaku reached out to IATSE to ask if they knew when the bargaining proceedings would begin, and how many members were included in the unit. A representative was not able to provide a comment by the time of publication.
In December 2021, the first game dev union in North America was formed at Vodeo Games, the development studio behind Beast Breaker. Six months later, game testers at Raven Software (who worked on Call of Duty games) voted to unionize. When Keywords formed a union in June this year, they cited inspiration from other union efforts in North America.
“These workers [at Anemone Hug] have found a home in the IATSE and game workers across Canada should use their success as inspiration to form unions at their own workplaces,” said IATSE president Matthew Loeb. “By working together, game workers can have more control of their working conditions and can address the issues that have been plaguing this industry for years.”
Let’s hope this is a trend we continue to see spreading throughout the industry.