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Video game industry could see massive strike as SAG-AFTRA votes to authorize walkout from 10 gaming companies
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Video game industry could see massive strike as SAG-AFTRA votes to authorize walkout from 10 gaming companies

The Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists has voted overwhelmingly in favor of allowing members from the video game industry to strike over payment and the use of artificial intelligence.

The SAG-AFTRA union voted 98.32% in favor of strike authorization, according to Variety, with nearly 35,000 members casting ballots. That's just 27% of eligible voters, however.

The new vote does not guarantee a work stoppage, but it does permit union negotiators to call for a strike should they so choose.

The discrepancies over a possible new Interactive Media Agreement appear to be pay raises and the use of AI for the production of video games. Union representatives and 10 major gaming companies have reportedly had several rounds of unsuccessful bargaining talks already.

“After five rounds of bargaining, it has become abundantly clear that the video game companies aren’t willing to meaningfully engage on the critical issues: compensation undercut by inflation, unregulated use of AI and safety,” said Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, SAG-AFTRA national executive director and chief negotiator. “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.”

The AI negotiations are said to stem from using computer generations for voice acting, motion capture, stunt work, and other performances in video games. These negotiations have taken place for approximately a year, dating back to October 2022.

Production companies included in the would-be strike are Activision, the company behind "Call of Duty"; Disney; Electronic Arts, which controls top sports game franchises; Formosa Interactive LLC; Insomniac Games Inc.; Epic Games; Take 2 Productions Inc.; VoiceWorks Productions Inc.; and WB Games Inc.

A spokesperson for the video game giants told Variety that the companies would "continue to negotiate in good faith to reach an agreement that reflects the important contributions of SAG-AFTRA-represented performers in video games."

"We have reached tentative agreements on over half of the proposals and are optimistic we can find a resolution at the bargaining table," the unnamed representative added.

SAG-AFTRA's chief contracts officer, Ray Rodriguez, called the companies' use of AI "exploitative" and said wages have been "lagging" behind.

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