Entertainment

Activision Blizzard realigns Raven QA staff amid union efforts

Many days later Raven Software QA staff have announced their intention to merge with Communications Workers of America (CWA), on Monday, Activision notified the workers that it was reorganizing the division. Company announces news to employees on Raven QA worker day back to work after a week long strike.

“In November, we began the transition of our temporary staff to [full-time employment] status,” said Brian Raffel, head of studio Raven Software in an email to employees. “Now, I’m excited to share that our QA colleagues will be dipping directly into the various teams in the studio, including Animation, Art, Design, Sound, Production, and Engineering.” In the email, Raffel said “the move to embed our QA team” has been in the works for “several months”.

A spokesperson for Activision Publishing confirmed to Polygon that the studio is moving its QA staff to “embed” with different departments. The full statement reads:

Today, Raven Software shared an organizational update that continues the work the studio started in November, which will move the Quality Assurance teams to work directly alongside the Animation, Art, Design teams Design, Sound, Production and Engineering in Raven. This change will enhance the collaborative work our team does to support our game and our players, and make our talented QAs even stronger. .

This is the next step in a well-thought-out process that has been in the works for some time, and the structure puts Raven in line with the best practices of other renowned Activision studios. It is also an important milestone in our broader plan to integrate QA more into the development process as our teams strive for the best in class coordination across activities. Live, real-time service.

While the embedded QA model is said to be consistent across Activision Blizzard’s other studios, CWA organization director Tom Smith called the move “nothing more than a tactic to thwart the Raven QA staff in action. exercise their right to organize”. Smith is also urging the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission review the Microsoft merger announced last weekwill move Activision Blizzard under Microsoft Gaming.

“When the Board of Directors uses meaningless buzzwords like ‘alignment,’ ‘synergy’ and ‘reorganize’, they are sending a message to workers: ‘we give it all up’ decision, we have all the power,’ he said. “Workers organize to have a voice in the workplace to correct this power imbalance. Large technology imports that can increase and further centralize corporate power, like the Microsoft-proposed Activision Blizzard acquisition, deserve real scrutiny.This scrutiny is all the more important when a company Companies like Activision Blizzard impede their workers from exercising rights protected under US law”.

Activision Blizzard did not respond to Polygon’s question about how this might affect the union, but a spokesperson provided more details about the work structure.

“It is accurate to say that Raven QA analysts will work directly in different departments, essentially side by side with those department employees, on the same platform,” the spokesperson said. platform and under departmental supervision”. “They will also receive daily quests from these divisions. There will still be a QA manager who will still be responsible for broader job duties and overall career development, along with departmental oversight. ”

Embedded QA Teams is a relatively new standard in the video game industry and Activision. In practice, it means that QA staff is not cut off from day-to-day game development activities on their own. Activision Blizzard QA Officer told Polygon in August that they often feel put off from the rest of the development process and in extreme cases they are asked not to talk to the developers. Embedded QA removes those barriers and makes the department part of a larger team.

“For lack of a better term, it really humanizes the QA process because they are really part of the team,” one QA tester told Polygon. “They’re meeting, they’re providing feedback, they’re constantly talking to the developers they work directly with every day, they’re not just waiting in silence for the next thing to be checked.”

They continued: “In my personal opinion embedded QA is one of the most important things in development and can really make or break a game, so the fact that they have working on a big franchise like this without being honest. . ”

Other industry experts from both triple A and indie studios expressed similar sentiments on social media in response to the news of Raven Software’s reshuffle.

The issue for Raven Software QA staff is related to how that would affect their status and classification as workers. Raven Software’s union, the Game worker Alliance, is currently awaiting a response from Activision Blizzard on whether the company plans to voluntarily recognize the union. If the company chooses not to do so, QA officers will go to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to vote. Part of that process – beyond voluntary recognition – means that the NLRB will decide Can a group of workers be classified? as a union.

A Raven Software QA employee told Polygon that the team is still trying to figure out how this affects consolidation at the company.

https://www.polygon.com/22901414/activision-blizzard-raven-software-qa-union-reorg Activision Blizzard realigns Raven QA staff amid union efforts

Aila Slisco

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