SAG-AFTRA Accuses Video Game Companies of ‘Erroneous Assertions’

War of words ensues between actors union and gaming giants as strike goes on

More than a week into its targeted strike against 11 video game companies, the Screen Actor’s Guild continues to fight back in a battle of semantics, accusing the gaming corporations of “erroneous assertions” on Monday.

The biggest point of contention is that the gaming giants, including Electronic Arts and Activision, claim that SAG-AFTRA rejected a workable compromise for increased pay and better working conditions for voice over actors and stunt people who perform for popular video games.

The companies claim to have documentation to prove it. “These proposals exchanged across the table prove the companies and SAG-AFTRA have largely agreed on the significant issues before us except for the label we have placed on the ‘Additional Compensation,’ which would be paid above and beyond our proposed 9 percent pay increase,” said the gaming companies’ chief negotiator Scott J. Witlin last week.

“The documents also demonstrate that the companies value performers and reached agreement with the union on the issue of vocal stress,” added Witlin.

To that SAG-AFTRA said Monday that the video game companies “are trying to convince our members and the public that video game actors actually support the last proposal that these companies made.” The guild emphasized that the companies “cannot unilaterally determine when we have a deal” and that union members voted by a margin of 97 percent to strike.

“If the companies want our members to vote on a deal, we can arrange that as soon as they offer a deal that is acceptable,” the statement went on to read.

The actors union believes the gaming companies are being resistant because they fear other groups working for them — like programmers and designers — “might get ideas.”

“This is not an industry with the best track record of labor practices,” SAG-AFTRA said Monday. “They have a long documented history of overworking their employees to the point of damaging their physical and emotional health. Our performers are at the vanguard of demanding better treatment, but they are surely not the only video game employees in need of it.”

 The top priorities for the actors union are:

-That video game actors receive a one-time residual payment for their work only when a game sells more than 2 million units.
-Limit sessions for vocal work to two hours in order to avoid vocal chord injuries.
-Improve transparency, so actors know whether they’re playing a lead character or a supporting role, and also whether they’ll have to relay sexually explicit or offensive language and/or storylines.
-Assurances that stunt coordinators will be present when capturing stunts or other dangerous work.

The union is striking video game publishers: Activision; Blindlight; Corps of Discovery Films; Disney Character Voices, Inc.; Electronic Arts; Formosa Interactive; Insomniac Games; Interactive Associates; Take 2 Interactive; VoiceWorks Productions; and WB Games.