The actors union group SAG-AFTRA has voted overwhelmingly in favour of a potential strike against the games industry. Members were nearly unanimous, with 98.32 per cent of the vote being in favour of a strike — if a strike is necessary.
SAG-AFTRA's vote for a strike is in relation to the Interactive Media Agreement, which essentially covers members' work in video games. The organisation has been in negotiations with many major publishers and production teams on issues such as insufficient pay, AI concerns, and safety precautions.
The vote doesn't necessarily mean a strike will happen — it basically just means that the union's members are ready to authorise a strike if the industry's big players continue not to budge on the organisation's terms. The next round of negotiations is scheduled for 26th to 28th September. SAG-AFTRA is hoping the vote in favour of a strike will help to move things along.
"It’s time for the video game companies to stop playing games and get serious about reaching an agreement on this contract," says SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher. "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."
Chief Contracts Officer Ray Rodriguez notes that those acting in video games are facing "many of the same issues as those who work in film and television". SAG-AFTRA has been actively striking against Hollywood to fight for fair employment terms for its members, battling against similar issues regarding payment and exploitative uses of AI.
So, a strike isn't happening yet, but it's well within the realm of possibility. There are many notable companies SAG-AFTRA is currently negotiating with — it lists Activision Productions Inc, Blindlight LLC, Disney Character Voices Inc., Electronic Arts Productions Inc., Formosa Interactive LLC, Insomniac Games Inc., Epic Games, Take 2 Productions Inc., VoiceWorks Productions Inc., and WB Games Inc. If you're unfamiliar, VGC notes Blindlight has contributed acting work to the likes of The Elder Scrolls, Destiny, and Fallout, while Formosa has helped on Call of Duty, as well as many PS Studios games like God of War and The Last of Us Part II. Should a strike happen, it would disrupt production on a lot of major games currently in the works.
"This strike authorization makes an emphatic statement that we must reach an agreement that will fairly compensate these talented performers, provide common-sense safety measures, and allow them to work with dignity," Rodriguez says. "Our members’ livelihoods depend on it."