Members of SAG-AFTRA, the labour union for American actors, have voted overwhelmingly in favour of potential video game strike action.
Union members voted 98.32% in favour of strike authorisation regarding the Interactive Media Agreement, which covers members’ work on video games.
While this doesn’t necessarily mean a strike is going to be called yet, it does mean that if SAG-AFTRA doesn’t get terms it considers acceptable while negotiating the Interactive Media Agreement, it can call a strike right away, knowing its members already support the decision.
So far negotiations have failed due to what SAG-AFTRA calls unacceptable 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”.
There have been five rounds of negotiations so far, with the next bargaining session set to take place from September 26-28.
SAG-AFTRA has been in negotiations with a number of video game companies and their performance production arms since October 2022, including Activision Productions, Blindlight, Disney Character Voices, EA Productions, Formosa Interactive, Insomniac Games, Epic Games, Take 2 Productions, VoiceWorks Productions and WB Games.
If strikes take place it will likely affect those companies as they won’t be able to hire unionised actors to perform motion capture or voiceover work for their games.
Some of the companies listed offer performance services for a number of game developers and publishers. Blindlight has contributed performance work to such series as The Elder Scrolls, Halo, Tomb Raider, Destiny and Fallout, while Formosa Interactive has worked on the Call of Duty games and other high-profile titles like The Last of Us Part II, Death Stranding and God of War.
“It’s time for the video game companies to stop playing games and get serious about reaching an agreement on this contract”, SAG-AFTRA president Fran Dreascher said in a statement.
“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 video games as a viable career.”
SAG-AFTRA national executive director and chief negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland added: “I remain hopeful that we will be able to reach an agreement that meets members’ needs, but our members are done being exploited, and if these corporations aren’t willing to offer a fair deal, our next stop will be the picket lines.”