The entertainment industry has been experiencing a wave of strikes in recent months, and now it seems that video game actors might join the fray. The Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) has taken a significant step by unanimously voting to authorize a potential strike in the event that its upcoming bargaining meeting with the games industry does not yield favorable outcomes.
The voting process for this crucial decision is set to take place from Tuesday, September 5 to Monday, September 25. SAG-AFTRA’s negotiation efforts will encompass major gaming companies such as Activision, Electronic Arts (EA), Insomniac Games, and WB Games. The primary objectives of this negotiation are to secure safeguards against the encroachment of artificial intelligence (AI) and to secure substantial wage increases. The proposed wage increases include an 11% raise retroactively from the point of contract expiration, followed by 4% raises in the second and third years of the agreement. These demands mirror the compensation structures in place for individuals working under film and TV contracts.
In addition to wage concerns, SAG-AFTRA is also advocating for several other significant demands. These include the provision of a set medic for situations involving stunts or dangerous tasks, similar to what is typically present on film and TV sets. The guild is also pushing for explicit prohibitions against stunts during self-taped auditions and for vocal stress protections, acknowledging the unique challenges posed by such performances.
Fran Drescher, the President of SAG-AFTRA, expressed her concerns about the potential consequences of AI on the livelihoods of their members. “Once again, artificial intelligence is putting our members in jeopardy of reducing their opportunity to work,” she stated. She reiterated the guild’s commitment to standing up against any threats to their members’ interests.
Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, the Guild Negotiation Director, further emphasized the importance of recognition for voice and performance capture artists. He emphasized that these artists play a pivotal role in bringing video game characters to life and should be compensated accordingly. The advanced use of AI in voice and performance capture is a testament to the industry’s technological progress. However, without proper contractual protections, performers could unwittingly contribute to the erosion of their own artistry and livelihoods.
This isn’t the first time SAG-AFTRA has clashed with the gaming industry. Back in 2016, a prolonged 183-day strike occurred between the guild and gaming studios. This standoff eventually resulted in the extension of the Interactive Media Agreement between the two parties, beyond its original expiration date. Unfortunately, SAG-AFTRA claims that the studios failed to adequately address their concerns during this extended negotiation period, leading to the looming possibility of another strike.
In response to these developments, a spokesperson for the video game producers involved in the Interactive Media Agreement expressed their intentions to negotiate in good faith. They aim to achieve a mutually beneficial agreement that recognizes the vital contributions of SAG-AFTRA-represented performers. The statement acknowledges the importance of these performers in delivering world-class entertainment to a vast audience of players across the globe.
For more comprehensive insights into SAG-AFTRA’s perspective on the strike authorization, interested readers can refer to the guild’s complete comments on the matter.
Update: 9/2/2023 @ 11:38 AM ET: This article has been updated to include a statement from the video game producers participating in the Interactive Media Agreement.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):
Q1: What is the primary objective behind SAG-AFTRA’s potential strike authorization?
A: SAG-AFTRA aims to secure protections against the impact of AI and secure substantial wage increases for video game actors.
Q2: Which gaming companies are involved in the negotiation process with SAG-AFTRA?
A: The negotiation efforts include major companies such as Activision, EA, Insomniac Games, and WB Games.
Q3: What were the results of the 2016 clash between SAG-AFTRA and the gaming industry?
A: The 2016 standoff resulted in a prolonged strike that lasted 183 days and led to the extension of the Interactive Media Agreement.
Q4: What additional demands is SAG-AFTRA making besides wage increases?
A: SAG-AFTRA is also advocating for a set medic presence during stunts, prohibitions against stunts during auditions, and vocal stress protections.
Q5: How does SAG-AFTRA view the role of AI in the entertainment industry?
A: SAG-AFTRA expresses concerns that AI could negatively impact opportunities for its members and their livelihoods.
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