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SAG-AFTRA “50/50, If Not More Likely” To Strike Against Video Game Companies Soon, Duncan Crabtree-Ireland Says

There may soon be another actors strike in Hollywood — this time against the video game industry.

SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director Duncan Crabtree-Ireland weighed in on the possibility while giving updates on the union’s negotiations on its Interactive Media Agreement during a Saturday panel at SXSW.

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“We’re currently in bargaining with all the major game studios, the biggest sticking point…is AI,” he said during the Q&A hosted by Brendan Vaughan, Editor-in-Chief of Fast Company, which dealt with the intersection of Hollywood and artificial intelligence.

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He continued: “We have strike authorization on that contract and it is, at this point, at least 50/50, if not more likely, that we end up going on strike…in the next four to six weeks because of the inability to get past these basic AI issues.”

It’s been well over a year since the guild’s video game contract, known as the Interactive Media Agreement, was extended beyond its original expiration date. SAG-AFTRA’s last strike against the gaming companies, in 2016-17, lasted 183 days.

In September, members authorized a strike authorization on this current contract. The vote was 98.32% in favor.  A total of 34,687 members cast ballots, representing a voting 27.47% of eligible voters.

The guild’s board and negotiating committee had already voted unanimously to recommend the authorization vote, which required 75% approval of voting members to pass. With the overwhelming support, the national board does have the authority to call a strike at any time if negotiations fail.

The guild, meanwhile, is also still recalibrating after its 118-day strike against the Hollywood studios to achieve its latest film and TV contract, which did achieve several gains when it comes to language regulating artificial intelligence.

Many of the issues between the two contracts are similar, including wages and artificial intelligence. Chief Contracts Officer Ray Rodriguez previously said that the guild is committed to negotiating language to prevent “the exploitative uses of AI.”

The 10 companies facing a possible strike are:

  • 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.

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