Video game makers may create and sell fun-filled entertainment products, but Activision Blizzard has been bogged down in suits and bad press for unfair working conditions. The makers of games like Overwatch and Call of Duty are accused particularly of fostering a “frat boy” culture where sexual harassment runs rampant.
These allegations caused the Santa Monica-based company to change its culture after a suit from the California Department of Fair Employment. With this sea change, a part of Activision Blizzard has voted in the first union for a major US video game firm.
A group of quality-assurance testers in Activision Blizzard’s Raven Software division, which developed the popular Call of Duty Game, voted 19-3 in favor of unionizing.
21 workers make a small difference in a company of over 10,000. This move, though, marks a symbolic victory in an industry that has become known for the unfair treatment of workers. Working for a multi-billion-dollar company with an unhealthy culture can leave workers with few options to help themselves. Going forward, collective bargaining will be a good resource to have. After several instances of sexual harassment and lawsuits, Microsoft purchased Activision Blizzard for $69 billion. Microsoft said that it would not impede any unionization efforts.
Activision Blizzard said in a statement that it respected its workers’ right to unionize. Although, they feel that the actions of this part of Raven Software do not represent the treatment and opinions of the whole company.