A support studio that helped work on Hardspace: Shipbreaker, a space sim about labor organizing, has officially voted to join a labor union. In a press release, The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) announced that Anemone Hug will be joining The Canadian Animation Guild IATSE Local 938.
Anemone Hug is a game studio based in Vancouver that has contributed to various AAA and indie projects such as Hardspace: Shipbreaker, Crossfire Legion, The Art of Secret Ponchos, and Form. According to their website, they are currently working on their own original IP planned for a 2024 release.
John Lewis, the IATSE International Vice President and Director of Canadian Affairs, said this about the news: “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.”
This announcement follows recent unionization efforts at other game studios. Earlier this year, QA testers at Raven Software, who work on the mega-franchise Call of Duty, voted to form one of the first major unions in the videogame industry. Workers at Blizzard Albany, another Activision Blizzard subsidiary, have also taken steps to join a labor union.
In late 2021, Vodeo Games became the first North American game dev to unionize. This year, QA testers at Bioware became the first Canadian game developers to unionize, and Game Workers Unite became the first Australian games industry union.
These unionization efforts follow years of widespread abuse and overwork allegations at games studios. While employees at Activision-Blizzard have won some concessions, many at Ubisoft say their company has still not addressed the root causes of its toxic work culture.