BioWare vendors that support games like Mass Effect are looking to stay connected

Dragon Age characters are preparing for a future with less crunch.

Picture: BioWare / EA

Keywords Studio developers work to support Dragon Age 4 maker BioWare seeks to organize itself. It appears from an April 20 application filed with the Alberta Labor Relations Board. The staff is preparing a union vote following the latest work organization efforts at other game studios.

“United Food and Commercial Workers Canada Union, Room No. 401 applied under the Labor Relations Code to become the Certified Negotiating Agent for a unit of employees at Keywords Studios BC, Inc. that compromises All employees employed in development assistance at the BioWare office in Edmonton ” reader the announcement published by Alberta’s Labor Relations Board shared on Reddit. A representative of the board confirmed that this was correct.

Keywords Studios is a global video game industry service company that contracts with other companies for things like art, localization and QA. BioWare’s Edmonton headquarters, the acclaimed studio behind Mass effect, Dragon Age, and other RPG classics, is one of their customers. Developers who have entered into a contract through the company are listed in the credits for both Mass Effect Andromeda and Anthem. Trade union would give the workers concerned the opportunity to negotiate a contract, improved working conditions such as better pay, benefits and overtime.

After the board certifies that the application meets the requirements, including that there is at least 40% support among the group of employees who would become a member of the union, employees have until May 3 to object.

It is not immediately clear how many employees are seeking to organize or what their roles are. EA, Keywords Studios, and UFCW Local 401 did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The announcement comes as work organization seems to be gaining momentum in the video game industry. The indie studio Vodeo became the first in North America to organize in December, and QA employees at Call of Duty studio Raven Software just overcome their first obstacle with the U.S. National Labor Relations Board to hold a union vote.

Last week, an NLRB lawsuit was filed against Nintendo of America alleging retaliation when a contact was fired after asking questions about unions at a February meeting, told sources Kotaku. Nintendo said the termination was due to an NDA violation and denies there is any union activity at its North American headquarters.