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Are video game voice actors going on strike? Here’s what to know

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SAG-AFTRA members have voted in favor of a strike against the video game industry that could see voice actors strike and affect game development around the world.

While the WGA celebrates its victory over film and television studios for better compensation and rights, SAG-AFTRA’s fight has just begun. SAG-AFTRA began its strike on July 14, 2023, and it continues into the present.

The strike was initially just for movies, TV shows, and streaming series. However, the guild has now declared video games as part of the ongoing strike. This isn’t the first time that SAG-AFTRA held a strike against the video game industry, as it did much the same in October 2016. 

Why is SAG-AFTRA striking against the video game industry?

SAG-AFTRA is striking against the video game industry to give voice actors and other performers in the industry fair compensation, protection against the unregulated use of AI, and safety measures for stunt performers.

SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher says that video game companies must “stop playing games” and take the needs of their performers more seriously.

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It’s important to note a voice actors strike isn’t actually happening yet. But SAG-AFTRA has authorized such a strike, which means that it could now happen in the future. This is likely if a new agreement isn’t reached with video game companies.

SAG-AFTRA’s three major concerns are better compensation, AI protection, and stunt safety. Better compensation is being asked for in response to the inflation in the current economy. Protection against unrestricted AI concerns the usage of likenesses without permission from the performers. Stunt performer safety includes providing mandated breaks as well as on-site medics in case of emergency. 

Which video game companies are affected by the SAG-AFTRA Strike?

The companies most directly by a SAG-AFTRA Strike are Activision, Blindlight, Disney, EA, Epic Games, Formosa, Insomniac, Take-Two, VoiceWorks, and WB Games.

It’s important to note that companies such as Blindlight, Formosa, and VoiceWorks do subcontract work for companies not listed above. The companies indirectly affected by a potential voice actors strike include the likes of Bethesda, Sony, Riot Games, and Hoyoverse.

Notably, Hoyoverse released a statement in July 2023 responding to concerns about voice actors for Genshin Impact not being properly paid by Formosa Interactive LLC. This incident shows that in 2023, there are still high-profile issues affecting performers in the video game industry that need attention.

Audrey Cooling, a representative of the video game companies, claims that half of SAG-AFTRA’s concerns have already been tentatively agreed upon.

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Written by Gab Hernandez

Gab Hernandez has a particular love for video games that give players control over the narrative direction, such as Divinity: Original Sin 2 and Disco Elysium. Gab spends just as much time playing games as they do gushing about them online to anyone who will listen.

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