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Dragon Age contractors vote to form union

A group of quality assurance (QA) contractors working on BioWare’s next Dragon Age game have voted to unionise.

The decision – unanimously agreed by all 16 voters at Keywords Studios – means collective bargaining on worker rights will now begin.

This drive for unionisation comes amid a wider push for video game worker unions in the US, and after a previous squabble between staff and Keywords bosses over returning to work in-office.

Dragon Age: Dreadwolf’s 2020 teaser trailer.

Keywords has previously worked as a support studio for various games and developers, with BioWare’s next Dragon Age game its current project.

Back in April, workers were told they would need to resume in-office work within BioWare’s Edmonton HQ, as part of the “embedded” service Keywords provides.

But Keywords staff pushed back, criticising the necessity for such a move and pointing out that full-time BioWare employees were treated differently – and had paid time off if sick or after a positive Covid test.

Keywords staff were later told they could continue to work remotely “until further notice” – though the push to unionise continued.

“Keywords Studios accept the vote of the 16 Edmonton staff who have chosen to unionise,” the studio said in a statement. “We value our people and will continue to constantly strive to be a good employer.

“As an organisation we want to ensure an engaging experience for all of our employees, and we take any concerns that our staff have seriously. We will continue to have an ongoing dialogue with all individuals in the Edmonton team, as we move forward together, always learning and improving.”

Last month, QA testers at Call of Duty developer Raven Software also won a vote to unionise, despite being dissuaded by publisher Activision.

BioWare has now officially announced the title of Dragon Age: Dreadwolf, though the game still lacks a firm release date.

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