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Actors' union SAG-AFTRA takes steps towards authorising strike of video game performers

Union seeking better pay and protections against AI

Actors' union SAG-AFTRA have voted "unanimously" to send a strike authorisation vote to its members, ahead of resuming negotiations with video game companies including Activision, Epic and Take Two. The vote could extend the actors's strike which has shut down filming on film and television productions to the video game industry.

"Here we go again! Now our Interactive (Video Game) Agreement is at a stalemate too," said SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher in a statement as part of the vote announcement.

SAG-AFTRA's Interactive Media Agreement with video game studios expired nearly a year ago, and has been extended as negotiations took place. Much like in the film and television negtiations, the union are seeking "wages that keep up with inflation and protections against unrestrained use of artificial intelligence."

The existing Interactive Media Agreement covers actors who work in the video game industry on both voice acting and performance capture. Aside from pay increases, the union also want on-camera performers to be entitled to a five-minute break per-hour - something off-camera performers in the industry are already entitled to. They also want a set medic present when "stunts or hazardous work is performed", just as it would be on a film or television set.

On the AI front, the union seek "protective language in the contract that will require informed consent and appropriate payment for the creation and use of digital replicas and for training AI systems with our members’ performances. "

Bargaining is due to resume on September 26th. A successful strike authorisation vote does not mean performers within the video game industry would immediately go on strike, but would be an available option should studios fail to negotiate with SAG-AFTRA. Other video game studios involved in the bargaining include Insomniac Games, WB Games, Disney and Electronic Arts.

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