Voice actors represented by SAG-AFTRA – a US-based media union – voted overwhelmingly to authorize strike action. According to a SAG-AFTRA news story, 98% of all eligible members voted to authorize a possible strike.
It is important to note that this does not necessarily mean that a strike will occur. The approval means SAG-AFTRA can call a strike as negotiations with various video game companies continue this week and beyond. These companies include some of the biggest in the industry: Insomniac, Epic Games, Take Two, Activision, EA and more.
We recently spoke with just a handful of voice actors—both SAG-represented and unrepresented—about why these strikes are important right now. Key issues include protection from AI, lack of pay not in line with inflation rates, and various other workplace protections. Since negotiations have failed to secure these requirements for voice actors, strikes have become the latest tool to secure them for future contracts.
If a strike were to occur, it would not be the first time such a strike has hit the video game industry. Back in 2016, striking voice actors were hoping to secure residual payments for dubbing and mocap actors, as well as breaks during stressful recording sessions. This strike ended after 340 days with a deal that had no balances, but included breaks and season bonuses that improved the financial situation of many players. Roughly six years later, however, these hard-won benefits are doing little to protect workers from the current economic hardships. Not to mention AI, an entirely new topic that some believe threatens the future of careers.
It’s worth noting that this previous voice actor strike had its own strike authorization vote with an approval rating of about 96%. With 98% of the actors represented expressing their support this time around, it’s clear how serious modern voice actors’ concerns are around AI, pay and workplace safety. The previous strike had a major impact on various games, with titles like Life is Strange known to have struggled.
What are your thoughts? Do you think there will be a strike after the negotiations this month? Or will companies that have experienced a voice actor strike in the past rush to make a deal? Let us know below!