Hollywood has been brought to a near screeching halt due to the SAG-AFTRA strike which concerns many pressing issues in the entertainment industry, including payment for streaming residuals and worries regarding the ethical use of AI.
As reported on September 25, 98.32% of SAG-AFTRA members approved a video game strike. This does not mean that a strike has been called, though it does give SAG-AFTRA greater bargaining power during the next round of negotiations which will take place from September 26 to 28.
According to SAG-AFTRA, since 2022 it has been in negotiations with several gaming studios that had signed the Interactive Media Agreement. SAG-AFTRA claims the negotiations have been unsuccessful and “companies have refused to offer acceptable terms on some of the issues most critical to our members, including wages that keep up with inflation, protections around exploitative uses of artificial intelligence, and basic safety precautions.”
What will happen to the gaming industry?
Gaming, film, and television have some overlap as they all rely on writers and performers. Hence, the three industries do occasionally find themselves with shared goals. This is explained by chief contracts officer Ray Rodriguez who states that because of 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.”
If negotiations aren’t fruitful, we could face an industry-wide strike that would slow down the development of video games. These studios are part of the negotiations: Activision Productions Inc., Blindlight LLC, Disney Character Voices Inc., Electronic Arts Productions Inc., Epic Games, Inc., Formosa Interactive LLC, Insomniac Games Inc., Take 2 Productions Inc., VoiceWorks Productions Inc., and WB Games Inc. The three main issues SAG-AFTRA is discussing are:
- AI protections around consent, control, transparency and compensation.
- Wage increases that reflect compensation erosion due to inflation.
- Safety for on-camera performers and vocal stress protections for voice artists.
We aren’t facing a strike just yet, as there are a few more days of negotiations left. However, with the approval, there is authorization to call a strike at any time. The growing encroachment of AI on the entertainment industry cannot be ignored, and the outcome of these discussions will determine whether this technology’s impact is positive or destructive.