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The Video Game Industry Is Afraid of Unions

Voice actors on strike and the future of the gaming industry.

A version of this article appeared in the February issue of VICE magazine. Click HERE to subscribe. On November 17 of last year, 450 members of the SAG-AFTRA union picketed developer Insomniac Games in Burbank, California. Some of the faces marching up and down the street with signs in hand were familiar, like Clancy Brown, who played Sgt. Zim in the movie  Starship Troopers, but who, on that day, stood up for his rights as a voice actor in popular video games like  Call of DutyGod of War, and many others. After nearly two years of negotiations, SAG-AFTRA's Interactive Negotiating Committee and video game companies failed to agree on a new contract. They're split on many issues, but the negotiations eventually boiled down to one clause on which both sides refuse to budge: secondary payments. It's a price that the multibillion-dollar video game industry can afford to pay, so why is it refusing with what Phil LaMarr, a voice actor and a member of SAG-AFTRA's negotiation committee, described as "fundamentalist resistance"? According to the game developers, voice actors, and labor scholars who study the game industry, it's not the 450 people picketing outside Insomniac that game companies are worried about. It's the developers inside the building, and the lessons they might be learning from the organized workers outside. Read more on Motherboard