Video game actors going on strike

Voice actors and performers who work in the video-game industry voted to authorise a strike ahead of their contract negotiations this week.

The vote only authorizes a strike. The union, SAG-AFTRA, is scheduled to begin talks with video-game studios on Tuesday.

“We hope the added leverage of a successful strike authorization vote will compel the companies to make significant movement on critical issues where we are still far apart,” the guild said in a statement.

The union, which also represents TV and film actors, is currently on strike against Hollywood studios.

Like that fight, the one of with video-game makers involves how artificial intelligence can be used to recreate the actors’ voices and images.

The video-game performers are bargaining with the units of top gaming companies including Activision Blizzard Inc., Electronic Arts Inc., Epic Games, Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. and Warner Bros. Discovery Inc.

Video-game voice actors are concerned that, without adequate contractual protections, AI may reproduce or remix their voices without consent or commensurate payment.

“The unregulated use of artificial intelligence poses an existential threat to anyone who makes their living using their voice, image or performance,” said SAG-AFTRA chief contracts officer Ray Rodriguez.

The union and the Writers Guild of America have both expressed worry about members losing control of their writing, voices or likenesses through the use of generative AI.

Because games are computer-generated, the risk to video game performers is high, Rodriquez said.

The workers have also allege unsafe conditions for actors who perform stunts for video games using motion-capture technology.

“Games are basically playable action films,” said voice actress Ashly Burch, who voiced the protagonist in Sony Group’s Horizon series. “We’re asking for a set medic,” she said.

They’re seeking the same wage increases as film and television workers.

Video game voice actors struck for nearly a year in 2017 after demanding residual payments, voice protections and pay transparency.

The residual payments did not make it into the agreement.

“Video game employers view themselves as technology companies engaged in a technology business, not as entertainment companies, which is really what they’ve become,” Rodriguez said.

Approximately 2,600 people work under the guild’s interactive media contract. Some 14,680 have been employed under the contract at some point in the career, the union said.

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Video game actors going on strike