Videogames may become the next casualty in the Hollywood strike

  • With Hollywood actors, actresses, writers and others on strike, those involved in the videogame sector may soon join them.
  • SAG-AFTRA is expected to begin negotiations with developers/publishers at the end of September and it’s asked members if they’d strike should those talks go poorly.
  • The union is asking for better wages as well as protections from using AI to replace or mimic performers.

With actors, actresses, writers, and others currently engaged in strike action, it’s good to know that videogame developers are treating their talent right, right?

Well, they may not be and the Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) is calling on its members in the videogame sector to vote about whether or not to strike.

This call comes after negotiations with a number of developers and publishers stalled. The union is calling for wage increases for performers, the same increase it has asked for for its film and television members. The union also wants performers to be protected from the misuse of AI whether through their voice or performance captures along with other protections such as mandatory breaks during recording sessions.

“Here we go again,” SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher said. “Now our Interactive (Video Game) Agreement is at a stalemate too. Once again we are facing employer greed and disrespect. Once again artificial intelligence is putting our members in jeopardy of reducing their opportunity to work. And once again, SAG-AFTRA is standing up to tyranny on behalf of its members,” the president added.

While a call to vote to strike doesn’t initiate a strike, it does give SAG-AFTRA the ability to issue a strike call should negotiations not go the union’s way.

The videogame companies that the union is engaged with include:

  • Activision Blizzard
  • Blindlight
  • Disney Character Voices
  • Electronic Arts Productions
  • Epic Games
  • Formosa Interactive
  • Insomniac Games
  • Take 2 Productions
  • VoiceWorks Productions
  • WB Games Inc

The Interactive Media Agreement was extended last year beyond its original expiration date and so far negotiations haven’t met the needs of the union. Members have until 25th September to vote on whether or not to strike should negotiations not be fruitful. Those negotiations will begin the next day on 26th September.

While it’s unlikely that the strike action would impact games slated for release later this year all that much, it could hamper promo tours much like the Hollywood strike has. Union performers aren’t allowed to cross the strike line to do work whether that be acting or promotion for a film. We have seen some folks crossing the strike line to work for studios during the strike but this action is incredibly damaging for anybody who wants to make a career out of performing.

We’ll have to wait to see whether videogame publishers and developers are more open to negotiations with unions but given that SAG-AFTRA is preparing for the worst, our hope is minimal.


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