Activision Blizzard’s Raven software is America’s first syndicated game studio


Raven Software, a studio under Activision Blizzard and known for Call of Duty, is voting to unionize in a major first for the gaming industry.

Workers at Activision Blizzard’s Raven Software branch voted to unionize this week, making history as the games industry’s first union.

The critical vote for the gaming industry passed with 19 employees in favor and three against unionizing with Communications Workers of America, Huffington Post journalist Dave Jamieson announced on Twitter. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) counted the ballots on Monday, although the results have yet to be officially certified. Due to the significant lead in the yes votes, two satisfied ballots won’t impact the results anyway.

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Raven Software was founded in Wisconsin in 1990 and acquired by Activision in 1997. It is best known for its work on the hugely popular Call of Duty franchise, which has sold over 400 million copies. Before the union vote was called at Activision Blizzard, workers urged the company to voluntarily establish the union, but management refused. The workers then went to the NLRB to organize a union election. There has been a back-and-forth between Activision Blizzard and the NLRB over the potential size of the syndicate. Activision Blizzard wanted a bigger union (a way companies try to eliminate union support) but the NLRB said no and the vote went for all 30 workers.

The proposed union will represent approximately 30 employees. Union advocates at the company called themselves the Game Workers Alliance and cited brutal working hours as a problem they faced. This vote is a critical step for union presence in the gaming industry, a community without much formal union representation. Similarly, Image Comics recently became the first syndicated comic book company.

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Over the past year, Activision Blizzard has come under fire for various errors and allegations. In May, Activision Blizzard released a “diversity space tool” that allowed character creators to adjust race, gender, sexual orientation, and other facets when creating new creations by mechanically calculating the diversity. People lambasted the service, pointing out the biases inherent in the tool’s baselines, including defaulting to a white male cishet. Critics also expressed disbelief that the “Diversity Space Tool” assigned a numerical value to race, gender, and orientation.

A harassment lawsuit was filed against Activision Blizzard last year over allegations of workplace sexism and harassment, and several more filings follow. Activision Blizzard settled one of the cases against them despite protests from the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, which feared the settlement would undermine other lawsuits pending against the company. An attorney for the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing later resigned and accused the California governor of intervening in the case.

Source: Twitter

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