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SAG-AFTRA strike action on the edge due to AI issues

Action may be on the cards.

The potential for SAG-AFTRA strike action in the video game industry is hanging in the balance due to ongoing concerns about the use of AI.

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In September 2023, 98 percent of SAG-AFTRA members voted to authorize strike action against major video game producers. While no action went ahead after that vote, there is a strong chance of action in the next four to six weeks.

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Insomniac Games are among those that would be affected. Image via Insomniac Games

Speaking at SXSW in Austin on March 9, per Variety, SAG-AFTRA chief Duncan Crabtree-Ireland put the chance of union members striking at “50-50 or more likely” that action would be taken in the next four-to-six weeks due to “inability to get past these issues.”

The potential use of AI in video game development has ruffled feathers due to the threat of taking work away from workers, and some are said to have pushed for an outright ban—though Crabtree-Ireland says such a push “would not have succeeded” and accepts that AI will be coming to the industry.

Exactly how AI is used is a major sticking point for SAG-AFTRA, which wants “consent and compensation” for members when AI engines use its work and wants to ensure AI does not lead to the “replacement of people.”

SAG-AFTRA strike action in 2023 brought Hollywood movies to a standstill, with the threat of AI also being a major talking point in negotiations, and similar action in the video game industry would be a huge blow to development companies.

According to Eurogamer, strike action would affect Activision, Blindlight, Disney Character Voices International, EA, Formosa Interactive, Insomniac Games, Take 2 Productions, VoiceWorks Productions, and Warner Bros. Games would be affected—which would impact the development of titles like Marvel’s Wolverine, EA Motive’s untitled Iron Man game, and the next Call of Duty entry.

It remains to be seen whether strike action will go ahead, with Crabtree-Ireland saying SAG-AFTRA “don’t want to go on strike” but will take any necessary action, and it’s not surprising to see the union stand up against employers considering the wave of layoffs that have hit the industry already in 2024.


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Author
Josh Challies
Staff Writer. Professional writer since 2014. Pokemon, Marvel, Star Wars and overall geek. Previously wrote for Yahoo Sport, Stats Perform and online news publications.