US actors’ union members vote to authorize potential strike in the video game industry

In a significant development, members of the Sag-Aftra actors’ union in the US have voted overwhelmingly in favor of a potential strike in the video game industry. This move raises the prospect of yet another Hollywood walkout, following the ongoing strikes in film and TV studios. The vote, with an overwhelming majority of 98%, empowers the union to take action over the gaming industry agreement that covers voice, motion capture, and stunt work. While negotiations are set to resume next week, the vote demonstrates the gravity of the matter and the industry’s urgent need to address concerns regarding pay and the use of artificial intelligence (AI).

The ongoing strikes in the film and TV industry primarily center around pay discrepancies and AI use, issues that are also of concern to actors in video games. The Sag-Aftra union’s members highlight the importance of reaching an agreement that secures a viable career for performers in the video game industry, given the substantial amounts of revenue being generated by video game companies and the highly paid CEOs at their helm.

The current agreement between Sag-Aftra and major video game companies, including Activision Blizzard, Electronic Arts, Epic Games, and Disney Character Voices, expired in November. While the agreement has been extended on a monthly basis, negotiations have been ongoing. In response to the vote, company representatives have expressed their commitment to negotiating in good faith and reaching an agreement that recognizes the invaluable contributions of performers in the video game industry. They have indicated that tentative agreements have already been reached on more than half of the proposals.

In recent years, the video game industry has witnessed a growing trend of renowned actors and celebrities taking on character roles, lending their voices and appearances to video game projects. Hollywood stars such as Kit Harington, Rami Malek, and Conan O’Brien have already made their mark in this medium. Notably, Idris Elba, known for his role in the latest expansion of the popular game Cyberpunk 2077, expressed his views on the growing significance of video games as a platform for actors, referring to it as “a sign of the times.”

While the vote does not guarantee an immediate strike, it serves as a strong indication of the actors’ resolve and their demands for a fair and sustainable agreement. The potential strike in the video game industry, if it were to occur, would have far-reaching consequences for both the actors and the gaming companies. The impact could extend beyond the industry itself, influencing the broader entertainment landscape.

It is crucial for the negotiating parties to approach these discussions with seriousness and urgency. Finding common ground on issues of pay, AI implementation, and securing a viable career for performers in video games is imperative to avoid potential disruption in the industry. The outcome of the negotiations and the eventual agreement reached will significantly impact the future of actors in video games and shape the dynamics of the industry overall.

As spectators of this ongoing dispute, it is important for us to stay informed and advocate for a fair and sustainable resolution. Understanding the key issues at stake and supporting the rights of performers in the video game industry can contribute to a more equitable and thriving entertainment landscape.