Australia gets its first video game industry union

Thunder down under.

Australia from space at night with city lights of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, view of Oceania, A...

No matter what continent you hail from — Atlantis among them — it's pretty clear at this point that labor practices in the video game industry could use some serious improvement. Our friends in the outback apparently agree, because Australia's Game Workers Unite announced this week that it will be forming a union called Game Workers Australia in 2022.

Game Workers Unite Australia bills itself as an advisory organization that's a part of the worldwide Game Workers Unite movement, which has called for industry unionization for years now. Starting in 2022, GWU Australia will become a full-fledged union called Game Workers Australia, which will exist under the umbrella union Professionals Australia. It will be the first union specifically for video game workers in that country.

Link arms and hope for the best — A press release announcing the shift clarifies that the newly-christened GWA will still operate in an advisory capacity, in addition to its union duties. The union will help workers avoid underpayment, fight back against discrimination and bullying, and organize collective agreements at workplaces.

Just a few years ago, the idea of a video game workers union was completely alien to the industry. However, an acceleration of negative labor conditions — as well as high-profile controversies such as the Rockstar "100-hour weeks" dust-up and the sexual misconduct allegations at Activision Blizzard — has led to a flurry of action in recent years.

Just a few days ago, workers at the Activision-owned studio Raven Software staged a walkout to protest unexpected QA layoffs. The first major labor action at a major gaming studio occurred in mid-2019, when hundreds of workers walked out of League of Legends developer Riot Games in order to protest the company's culture of sexism.