Anemone Hug Interactive, a Canadian shipbreaker support company, has announced that its developers would strike on Wednesday.
The Canadian Animation Guild and the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 938 have joined Anemone Hug. The Canadian Animation Guild serves entertainment workers internationally, while the British Columbian animation division focuses on local animation workers and now game developers.
John Lewis, the vice president and Canadian affairs director of IATSE International, said in a statement that game workers in Canada had been working for years without the union's benefits and protections, and without the strength of union representation. Today, a clear message has been sent to game workers in every province that forming a union is not only possible, but also done.
Polygon has reached out to IATSE and Anemone Hug for more information, including a staff count and information on how many of those workers are union eligible.
Anemone Hug was founded in 2015 in Vancouver and is responsible for game development for both small and large companies, including work on Hardspace Shipbreaker, Crossfire Legion, and Secret Ponchos. The studio is also working on its own original game, which is scheduled to be released in 2024, according to the Anemone Hug website.
The critically acclaimed game, developed by Blackbird Interactive and published by Focus Entertainment, is centered on labor issues and union organizing in space. It was released this week as part of Xbox Game Pass.
Keywords Studios has joined the ranks of United Food and Commercial Workers Canada, a subsidiary of the BioWare contractor, in pushing forward unionization efforts in the country. Earlier this year, 16 QA workers at the studio voted yes to unionization after the studio reportedly implemented a return-to-work order that workers did not approve.
Over the past few years, union elections in North America have increased, even when union membership has dropped overall, at least in the United States. While retail and warehouse workers for companies like Amazon and Starbucks are leading the way, the momentum has extended to the video game industry as well. Before 2020, no studio in North America had unionized; now there are several, forming at studios both big and small.