Anemone Hug Interactive, a Canadian Shipbreaker support company, has announced that its developers have decided to unionize.
Anemone Hug members have joined The Canadian Animation Guild and The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 938. IATSE mostly serves entertainment workers internationally, while the British Columbian animation unit focuses on local animation workers and now game developers.
In a statement, IATSE International vice president and Canadian affairs director John Lewis said 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 that forming a union is not only possible; it is also done.
Polygon has reached out to IATSE and Anemone Hug for further information, including a staff count and information on how many workers are union eligible.
Anemone Hug was founded in 2015 in Vancouver and works on games for both small and big companies, including Hardspace Shipbreaker, Crossfire Legion, and Secret Ponchos. The studio is also working on its own original game, which is expected to be released in 2024, according to the Anemone Hug website.
The critically acclaimed game, which was released in early access in 2022, is focused on labor issues and union organizing in space. It was released this week as part of Xbox Game Pass.
Anemone Hug's QA staff has joined Keywords Studios in Edmonton, Canada, in promoting unionization efforts in the country. Earlier this year, 16 QA employees at the BioWare contractor voted yes to unionization after the studio reportedly implemented a return-to-work order that workers did not agree with. Keywords Studios QA workers are unionized under United Food and Commercial Workers Canada Union, Local No. 401.
In the last few years, union elections have risen in North America, although union membership has dropped in the United States as a whole. However, the momentum has spread to the video game industry as well. Before 2020, no studio in North America was unionized; now there are several, forming at studios both large and small.