On September 25, 2023, SAG-AFTRA, the Screen Actors Guild and the combination of the unions for the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists authorized video game strikes as part of its work to get all workers the unions to protect a better deal.
The deal SAG-AFTRA is after is fairer pay, better protection for workers in terms of the longevity of their work, and better benefits for the ongoing use of their work. Initially, the strikes SAG-AFTRA is running concerned only those working in television and radio, but now it could also impact those working in the games industry.
What does the SAG-AFTRA Video Game Strike Authorization Mean for the Games Industry?
The SAG-AFTRA strike authorization is a result of overwhelming votes, 98.32% from 34,687 members, from workers in television, radio, and video games. It doesn’t mean that video game voice actors, writers, and more will immediately go on strike. Instead, it means that the negotiations between SAG-AFTRA and the companies its members work for will be expanded to include game industry businesses.
According to the announcement post from SAG-AFTRA, the group has been in contact with several prominent video game companies since October 2022, including “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..”
During talks, these companies have failed to offer acceptable terms to members based on negotiations. The terms SAG-AFTRA is asking for include fair wages that keep up with inflation and protection for voice actors from the use of their work with AI and machine learning technology.
At the time of writing, the next set of talks is planned for September 26 to 28, 2023. With the authorization from members to include video game workers, SAG-AFTRA hopes the talks will result in more favorable terms because it has more leverage than in the past.
SAG-AFTRA Video Game Strike Authorization in Lamen’s Terms
In short, the SAG-AFTRA Video Game Strike Authorization means that video game workers could strike until they’re offered more favorable terms, just like their colleagues in television and radio.
These workers want to do this because their wages hasn’t been raised alongside inflation, meaning they can’t afford rent, bills, or food. Some workers are also made to work in circumstances that aren’t healthy, be it crunch for a writer or shouting at the top of their voice for a voice actor, without proper compensation or protection.
Finally, with the rise of AI tools, some workers are facing a future where they may work once, and then an AI will take their work and create more based on it, so a voice actor or writer is only paid once, while their work is actually used thousands of times.
As a result of the culmination of all these factors, those working in the industry see the future as terrifying. Furthermore, those who wanted to get into these roles previously may look for other career paths if they fear there’s no fair future for them.