Hello! Welcome to the latest Geeky Brummie Gaming Roundup!
This week, Raven Software’s unionisation efforts are successful.
Raven Software Union Is Official
QA staff at Call of Duty support studio Raven Software have voted to form a union, allowing the first union at a major American studio to be officially recognised by the US National Labor Relations Board. (link)
This comes after months of dispute between staff at Raven and their bosses at Activision Blizzard, which started with a strike that lasted several weeks after twelve testers were fired from the studio despite the publisher announcing record profits. And this was in the midst of numerous sexual abuse allegations and lawsuits that have been persistently plaguing Activision for the past year or so (although the allegations relate to incidents over several years).
Of course, based on their behaviour elsewhere, it’s not surprising that Activision Blizzard have not been supportive of the workers’ decision to unionise. Numerous disparaging remarks have been made against their efforts by management (link) and the union has yet to be recognised by the company.
It’s the latest in a labour movement in the US where increasing numbers of workers at large companies are unionising in a way to force change. From Starbucks to Amazon, companies have seen union activity increasing, and the games industry is following suit, with rumblings at Bioware on the horizon (link) and indie studio Vodeo Games voluntarily forming a union (link).
With the union now official, the next step is the long negotiation process for improved working conditions at the studio, which is likely to be drawn out as long as possible, particularly with the Microsoft acquisition happening behind the scenes. Good luck to them!
The first of this week’s new releases is a classic compilation. Pac-Man Museum+ (PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One) is a collection of Pac-Man titles all in one package. This, of course, includes the original arcade classic title, along with famous titles such as Pac-Land, Pac-Mania and Pac-Man Championship Edition, plus a few more obscure titles. Ms Pac-Man is notably absent, however, due to ongoing rights issues.
Then we have some smaller releases. Apico (PC) is a beekeeping simulator with a cosy aesthetic. Out There: Oceans of Time (PC) is a deep, complex space exploration game with narrative penned by one of the writers on Netflix’s Daredevil show. Moo Lander (PC, PS4, Xbox) is a Hollow Knight inspired Metroidvania starring an alien cow. And finally, Unexplored 2: The Wayfarer’s Legacy (PC) is a roguelite RPG with some twists on the formula involving a fixed world where your past actions leave lasting effects.
Kao the Kangaroo (PC, PlayStation, Switch, Xbox) is a reboot of an old Dreamcast platformer from 2000. It’s what you’d expect from a 3D platformer revival title, bringing back the old collectathon style, this time with a boxing kangaroo as the protagonist.
Sniper Elite 5 (PC, PlayStation, Xbox) is the latest in Rebellion’s World War II tactical sniper-based third person shooter series. It’s more of what you’ve come to expect from the series, up to and including the ability to shoot Nazis in their highly detailed testicles. Of course.
Game of the Week
Game of the Week this week is Floppy Knights (PC, Xbox), a turn-based card battler.
Combining turn-based strategy RPGs with deck builders, Floppy Knights sees you playing as Phoebe, a young inventor trying to earn some money, assisted by her robot arm and best friend, Carlton. Most of the game takes place in a series of battles where you use your creatures to battle a series of opponents.
I played the demo of this way back and loved both its adorable, quirky art style and endearing sense of humour. Plus, from what I played, the gameplay is solid, offering a variety of options for strategy in a fun, addictive way, and if all that has been retained for the full game, then this promises to be a lot of fun.
And that’s it for this week! Join me again soon for more gaming news and releases!