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SAG-AFTRA Votes to Expand Strike to Video Game Industry

SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher says, ‘Once again artificial intelligence is putting our members in jeopardy of reducing their opportunity to work’

After joining the Writers Guild of America (WGA) to strike, the Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), the two unions are now looking to expand the strike to include video game voice actors. 

The SAG-AFTRA board has sent a vote to all members ahead of an upcoming negotiation with the video game industry. The guild’s previous strike against gaming companies lasted for 183 days, from 2016 to 2017.

In a statement released on its website, the union has revealed that voting will commence on September 5th to 25th with 10 signatory video game companies including: 

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

SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher said, “Here we go again! 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 overlap of these two SAG-AFTRA contracts is no coincidence, but rather a predictable issue impacting our industry as well as others all over the world. The disease of greed is spreading like wildfire ready to burn workers out of their livelihoods and humans out of their usefulness. We at SAG-AFTRA say NO! Not on our watch!” 

Protecting workers against AI

A successful strike authorisation vote does not mean that a strike will happen. Instead, it gives the SAG-AFTRA national board the authority to call a strike if the video game companies do not negotiate fairly with the union.

SAG-AFTRA national executive director and chief negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland said, “Voice and performance capture AI are already among the most advanced uses of AI: the threat is here and it is real. Without contractual protections, the employers are asking performers to unknowingly participate in the extinction of their artistry and livelihoods.” 

SAG-AFTRA is requesting similar pay raises for video game actors as they do for movie and TV actors. They also want protection from AI taking their jobs as well as a mandatory five-minute break every hour for actors doing on-camera performance capture.

Written By

Isa Muhammad is a writer and video game journalist covering many aspects of entertainment media including the film industry. He's steadily writing his way to the sharp end of journalism and enjoys staying informed. If he's not reading, playing video games or catching up on his favourite TV series, then he's probably writing about them.

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