For their June 2022 release, UNI Global Union released a 31 paged “Resource for Organizers” for the video game industry. Within the document, UNI Global Union highlighted several aspects of the industry, such as: an overview of the video game industry; company profiles and profits; tools for reform; but most notably, a global survey of North American, European, Asian, and Australian video game industry workers on working conditions and environments.
In the survey of workers from 29 countries around the world, 79% of video game workers “definitely or somewhat” support unionization, and of those 79%, 76% support forming a union for their personal workplace. Globally, only 6% of video game workers “definitely or somewhat” oppose unionization efforts. This percentage of support for unions jumps even higher when focusing on Europe. For European video game workers, 85% support forming unions, with only 1% opposing. Lastly, for respondents who work at localization firms, 94% support unions, “and among respondents who are translators (93%), writers (92%), developers (86%), and testers (84%).”
As for why support for union efforts run so high amongst video game workers most likely stems from the fact that, when asked, 85% of respondents listed one major workplace issue, and within those respondents, 75% cited at least 3 workplace issues. Among the cited workplace issues, low pay was the highest reported (66%), with the following rounding out to: excessive workload and hours (43%), inadequate benefits (43% ), lack of access to training and/or software (39%), lack of job security (37%), and workplace discrimination and/or sexual harassment (35%). However, these issues reported largely depended on the type of firm, with the highs of 79% for mobile game studios, and an astonishing 100% for localization firms. Nonetheless, a couple constants among all types of firms was low pay, nearly half of women and non-binary people listing workplace discrimination, and about a quarter of women and non-binary people reporting sexual harassment as an issue.
This report released at an important juncture for the video game industry, just weeks after a few key wins for unionization efforts. In Australia, Game Workers Unite formed in April over alleged poor work environments. A month ago, Raven Studios’ QA workers became the first union for a AAA video game studio in North America, mainly alleging exploitative workplace environments and illegal employer retaliation by Activision Blizzard. 10 days ago in Canada, Keywords Studios workers, a localization firm, won their unionization effort, reporting poor workplace environment, management, and excessive work loads. With this revealing report, video game workers could potentially continue this momentum for spawning unions after seeing just how many support unions.