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Virtual Virtual Reality 2 developer Tender Claws has unionized

In just a handful of days, employees at Tender Claws successfully formed a union that they hope will "have a positive impact both within and beyond our walls."

Justin Carter, Contributing Editor

July 22, 2022

2 Min Read
Gameplay from Virtual Virtual Reality 2 by developer Tender Claws.

VR game developer Tender Claws has unionized. On Friday afternoon, the Los Angeles studio announced its employees had established the Tender Claws Human Union. With the help of the Communications Workers of America’s Campaign to Organize Digital Employees, the union currently consists of 13 workers across different studio departments, including full and part-time artists, producers, and programmers. 

"Tender Claws is a small studio that has made an outsized impact on the industry--something that would not be possible without the creativity, talent, and commitment of our employees," wrote co-founders Danny Cannizzarro and Samantha Gorman. "We've worked hard over the years to make Tender Claws a supportive place to work...The Tender Claws Human Union will no doubt have a positive impact both within and beyond our walls." 

The Tender Claws Human Union proudly announced their formation on Twitter, and "look forward to working with management to positively shape Tender Claws and the industry for years to come."

First founded in 2014 by Cannizzarro and Gorman, Tender Claws has released multiple award winning virtual and augmented reality titles. Its most recent title, Virtual Virtual Reality 2, released on the Meta Quest and Rift earlier this year. 

Employees of Tender Claws came to management earlier in the week with a petition and request for voluntary recognition. Once management recognized the Union, the petition was filed on Friday with the National Labor Relations Board. 

Let there be more unions

Within the last year, more game studios are making active efforts to unionize. A June report from the global labor organization Uni Global Union revealed that 66 percent of game developers say they're underpaid. When asked, 79 percent of developers said they would "definitely" or "somewhat" support a developers union.  

That same month, contractors at Keywords Studios, who provide support for developer BioWare Edmonton, became unionized after a unanimous vote. Keywords contractors were spurred into action by low wages and the sudden news that their remote work would end. A union spokesperson at the time expressed excitement at "bargaining with the employer and start towards a more equitable working situation."

Yesterday, QA workers at Blizzard Albany announced their own plans to unionize, an event preceded by fellow Activision developer Raven Software successfully unionizing in May. 

Blizzard employees are also currently staging a walkout in response to the company's stance on Roe v. Wade's overturn, and demand "protection of several communities of marginalized workers," in particular workers who live in states targeting women and LGBTQ employees. The walkout is also in response to allegations of Activision's active engagement in union busting, including instances of employees being harassed and intimidated for organizing. 

About the Author(s)

Justin Carter

Contributing Editor, GameDeveloper.com

A Kansas City, MO native, Justin Carter has written for numerous sites including IGN, Polygon, and SyFy Wire. In addition to Game Developer, his writing can be found at io9 over on Gizmodo. Don't ask him about how much gum he's had, because the answer will be more than he's willing to admit.

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