Nearly 35,000 SAG-AFTRA members voted in favor of a strike authorization on the Interactive Media Agreement, the union reported last night. The Interactive Media Agreement covers members’ work on video games, which includes voice acting and live-action capture. SAG-AFTRA announced the strike authorization over X/Twitter last night:
The signatory companies that use the Interactive Media Agreement include; 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.
These companies have been in bargaining with SAG-AFTRA since October of 2022, and haven’t come anywhere near a fair deal. The pattern of negotiations for SAG-AFTRA includes “wages that keep up with inflation, protections around exploitative uses of artificial intelligence, and basic safety precautions.”
Ray Rodriguez, the Chief Contracts Officer for SAG-AFTRA, lays the connections between the actors working for TV and film and actors working on video games. “Between the exploitative uses of AI and lagging wages, those who work in video games are facing many of the same issues as those who work in film and television. This strike authorization makes an emphatic statement that we must reach an agreement that will fairly compensate these talented performers, provide common-sense safety measures, and allow them to work with dignity. Our members’ livelihoods depend on it.”
Zeke Alton, a member of the bargaining committee who is known for his motion capture performances in Ratchet & Clank: A Rift Apart, Saints Row, and World of Warcraft, spoke to Polygon about some of the issues that actors face. He mentioned the stress of repeating a performance for motion capture, the use of AI technology to eliminate actors’ work, and the fact that actors are already selling their likenesses for a company’s use. He detailed some of the demands the actors seek:
We’re asking for three things [for AI]. Consent for use, transparency around how it’s used, and compensation for that use. We think those are completely reasonable. Not only do they protect us as performers, but writ large across the labor force in society, these things are needed for every worker to ensure they protect who they are as a person, and that we are not all just owned by corporations.
With regards to safety, Sarah Elmaleh, negotiating chair, known for her work on Hi-Fi Rush and Fortnite, said to Polygon, “we’ve seen bloody fingers, repetitive stress injuries from lifting realistically weighted AK-47s or large guns to do turns and all these atomized pieces of these animations that string together.” Alton added, “Oftentimes you’re taking direction from an animator or a coder or a writer who doesn’t understand that a person can’t crouch and walk for 20 minutes straight.” He also said, “Unlike a TV stunt, there’s no change of wardrobe, change of lights, or setup. It’s fall, dive through a table, and then do it over again for eight hours straight.”
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