As many know, Hollywood has been striking for some months now due to unfair pay. Several meetings have taken place but no deal has been made yet for them.
Now as we get closer to the end of the year, it seems like the Video Game industry might be the next to strike.
What Is SAG-AFTRA? What They Do
If you’re not familiar with who SAG-AFTRA are then here’s a quick summary of what they do. SAG-AFTRA is the combination of two American labor unions, the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.
This was formed in the 1930s and they have a very rich history of fighting for and securing the strongest protections for media artists just like they’re doing so right now.
SAG-AFTRA is made up of actors, announcers, broadcast journalists, dancers, DJs, news writers, news directors, program hosts, puppeteers, recording artists, singers, stunt performers, voiceover artists and other media professionals.
These are the faces and voices that entertain everyone across the world and if it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t have many of the things that we love to watch and listen to.
It is their job to make sure that all work is under their jurisdiction, that the best wages are being provided, that they’re working under the best conditions and that they’re receiving health and pension benefits.
They also fight for diversity amongst things, so you can imagine when actors start to not get treated well by the industry in any sort of manner, SAG-AFTRA will step in and take things into their own hands.
Will Video Game Actors Be Striking?
Just yesterday, SAG-AFTRA’s National Board voted unanimously to send a strike authorization vote to SAG-AFTRA members to prepare for the union’s forthcoming bargaining dates with video game companies.
The companies which are included are:
- Activision Productions Inc.,
- Blindlight LLC,
- Disney Character Voices Inc.,
- Electronic Arts Productions Inc.,
- Epic Games, Inc.,
- Formosa Interactive LLC,
- Insomniac Games Inc.,
- Take 2 Productions Inc.,
- VoiceWorks Productions Inc., and
- WB Games Inc.
It has almost been a year since SAG AFTRA’s video game contract was extended beyond the original expiration date but unfortunately, companies have failed to address the needs that were initially made.
There are key issues like wages keeping up inflation, and protections against unrestrained use of artificial intelligence which are common points being mentioned in the negotiations, it is also wise to note that the Interactive Media (Video Game) Agreements a separate contract from the TV, theatrical and streaming contacts which SAG-AFTRA members are currently striking.
There’s a lot of unregulated use of AI taking place which jeopardises these actors’ jobs, especially the ones who deal with performance capture to bring these video game characters to life.
Amongst AI protection, SAG-AFTRA is asking for the same wage increases for their video game performers as for those who are working under film and television contracts.
11% retroactive to expiration and 4% increases in the second and third years of the agreement which is a must for their wages to keep up with the inflation.
The union is also requesting for on-camera performers to have the same five minutes per hour rest period that toff-camera performers are entitled to.
They would also need a set medic present when stunts or hazardous work is performed, just like you would on a film or television set.
Though all this is taking place, a successful strike authorization will not initiate a strike, the strike authorization allows the National Board to declare a strike if the video game companies fail to negotiate fairly with SAG-AFTRA.
Like always, we are hoping that it doesn’t lead to any of this and that they get their fair pay and AI protection otherwise we could also be seeing delays just like the film industry.
The last video game actor strike was in 2016-2017 and we saw delays happen with Life is Strange: Before the Storm and also witnessed voice lines being reused in NetherRealm’s Injustice 2 for their DLC.
If you want to be updated on the possible strike on Video Game actors then follow CoveredGeekly Socials and keep an eye on the website where we’ll keep you updated on the situation.
Update Sept. 17 21:09 BST – You can find SAG-AFTRA’s Interactive Media (Video Game) Strike Authorization 2023 here.