SAG-AFTRA video game actors vote in favor of strike action over wages and AI

It would give the guild leverage for its next bargaining sessions with video game companies.

Christina House via Getty Images

SAG-AFTRA members have voted in favor of a strike authorization for performers working in video games, including those who do voice work, motion capture and stunts for the industry. Of the 34,687 members who cast their ballot, 98.32 percent voted "yes." It doesn't automatically mean that the performers are going on strike, only that they could after September 26.

The guild explained that it's been negotiating for a new contract with video game companies since 2022, but that they "have refused to agree to critical terms [its] members need." For its next bargaining sessions on September 26, 27 and 28, it believes the strike authorization gives it the added leverage needed to get the companies to agree to its terms. At the moment, the guild is in talks with Activision, Blindlight, Disney Character Voices, Electronic Arts, Epic Games, Formosa Interactive, Insomniac Games, Take 2 Productions, VoiceWorks Productions and WB Games.

Specifically, SAG-AFTRA is fighting for wage hikes that would allow performers to make a living from their work in the face of inflation, as well as more rigorous safety measures on set. The guild is also fighting for a contract that would protect performers against exploitative uses of artificial intelligence, such as companies making unauthorized copies of their likeness and voice. These all mirror the issues that ignited the ongoing strikes in the film and TV industry. The Writers Guild of America (WGA) is believed to be nearing an agreement with major studios, with one of the last sticking points in their negotiations being the use of generative AI in content production.

"We will continue to negotiate in good faith to reach an agreement that reflects the important contributions of SAG-AFTRA-represented performers in video games," Audrey Cooling, the spokesperson for the video game producers negotiating with SAG-AFTRA, told Engadget. "We have reached tentative agreements on over half of the proposals and are optimistic we can find a resolution at the bargaining table."

Update, September 26, 2023, 11:20 PM ET: We added the video game producers' statement.