The video game industry is on the brink of a strike as voice actors, motion capture performers, and stunt artists represented by SAG-AFTRA express concerns over the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in game development. Negotiations for a new contract have reached an impasse, with critical issues including pay raises and safeguards against AI-generated performances.
Sarah Elmaleh, a voice actor renowned for her roles in games like Gears 5 and Spider-Man: Miles Morales, reflects on her career and the unexpected challenges she faces in the gaming industry.
Voice actors previously engaged in a year-long strike in 2016, demanding improved pay and working conditions. While the strike led to some positive changes, the industry now faces a new set of challenges.
Negotiations between SAG-AFTRA and major game companies have stalled due to unresolved issues, particularly pay raises and the use of AI in game development.
Performers are concerned that AI advances may lead to their work being replaced or manipulated without their consent. The union seeks protections against AI usage.
The union is pushing for an 11 percent pay increase, with 4 percent increases in the second and third years of the contract. Game companies have offered lower percentages.
SAG-AFTRA aims to establish safeguards to ensure performers' consent, transparency, and compensation regarding the use of AI-generated content.
Members have voted overwhelmingly (98 percent) in favor of authorizing a strike, which could disrupt game releases and lead to recasting if negotiations remain deadlocked.
The strike could have significant consequences for the gaming industry, causing delays in game releases and impacting beloved characters and franchises.
The potential strike by voice actors and performers in the gaming industry underscores the evolving challenges posed by AI and the need for protections against its misuse. As negotiations continue, the outcome will shape the future of how AI is integrated into game development and its impact on the rights and livelihoods of performers.