Video Game Actors Ready to Stage Strike for Increased Compensation and Safeguards
Video game actors, represented under the Screen Actors Guild-AFTRA (SAG-AFTRA) contract, are advocating for increased compensation due to the rising cost of living. Cissy Jones, a BAFTA-winning voice actor known for her role in "Firewatch," highlights the need for a raise, citing stagnant rates over the past four to five years despite inflation.
In a recent vote, voice actors and motion capture performers in the video game industry overwhelmingly authorized a potential strike if negotiations for a new labor contract, set to begin soon, fail. This move could lead to another work stoppage in the entertainment industry.
SAG-AFTRA, the same union representing film and television actors, witnessed a strike in July, marking a rare occurrence of two simultaneous work stoppages in Hollywood in over 60 years. Additionally, the Writers Guild of America staged a strike in May but recently reached a preliminary labor agreement with major studios.
The SAG-AFTRA contract for video game performers expired in November and has been extended monthly as negotiations with major game companies continue.
The video game industry is immensely profitable, with total revenues reaching $180.3 billion in 2021 and expected to grow to $218.8 billion by 2024, according to Newzoo. Major players like Sony anticipate record console sales in 2023.
Apart from compensation, video performers represented by SAG-AFTRA are addressing key issues, including consultations with companies like Disney, Activision, EA, and Epic Games regarding the use of artificial intelligence (AI) for voice creation. AI has also emerged as a concern for writers and actors in TV, theatrical, and streaming contracts.
Safety measures are another critical focus, particularly for motion capture performers. The union is advocating for improved safety protocols and on-set medics for risky stunts, similar to practices in film and television.
In an evolving landscape, AI's potential in voice replication has raised concerns, with fans already using AI-generated voices on platforms like TikTok. These developments emphasize the importance of securing fair contracts and addressing emerging challenges in the video game industry.