As Hollywood begins to see the light at the end of the tunnel following protracted strikes by the creative industry, things are beginning to brew for those working in the video game industry. SAG-AFTRA, which is the union that represents the likes of actors, hosts, journalists and more, have voted in favour of a strike against videogame companies. The likes of Activision, Electronic Arts, Epic Games, and Take-Two Interactive are only some that will be affected.
The matter in question is the Interactive Media Agreement, which was first established in 2017 following strikes by voice actors. The deal was supposed to be up for discussion in 2020, but it was extended until November 2022, and now, a new agreement is the target of SAG-AFTRA.
While the overwhelming vote doesn’t necessarily mean a strike will take place, but the threat of one is leverage that could help with negotiations. The same negotiations have been taking place since October last year, but it has not been progressing smoothly, with game companies refusing to “offer acceptable terms on some of the issues most critical to our members, including wages that keep up with inflation, protections around exploitative uses of artificial intelligence, and basic safety precautions,” according to SAG-AFTRA.
These companies include:
- Electronic Arts
- Epic Games
- Formosa Interactive
- Insomniac Games
- Take-Two Interactive
- VoiceWorks Productions
- WB Games
“It’s time for the videogame companies to stop playing games and get serious about reaching an agreement on this contract,” SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher explained. “The result of this vote shows our membership understands the existential nature of these negotiations, and that the time is now for these companies—which are making billions of dollars and paying their CEOs lavishly—to give our performers an agreement that keeps performing in videogames as a viable career.”
The important discussion points for the negotiation cover the use of artificial intelligence and matters pertaining to consent, control, transparency, and compensation, wage increases that reflect the threat of inflation, and safety and protection measures for on-camera performers and voice artists.
27.47% of the eligible voters, or 34,687 members within the organisation, voted on the notion, with 98.32% in favour of striking. A strike by the SAG-AFTRA will undoubtedly be disruptive to the industry, even if non-union members are available for work. The hope is that an agreement can be reached for all parties involved.