Video Game Strike: Actors Take To Virtual SAG-AFTRA Picket Line

David Robb/Deadline

SAG-AFTRA members reached out to video gamers today in what’s being billed as the first-of-its-kind virtual picket line, seeking support for the union’s month-old strike against selected game companies. Hundreds of actors tweeted out calls for a fair contract — and asked gamers to back their cause.

“Video game fans, you want the best from the developers?” tweeted actor Eric Ladin with the hashtag #PerformanceMatters, part of SAG-AFTRA’s call to arms. “They don’t believe they should have to pay for it. Please RT!”

“This isn’t about celebrity guest spots or superstar athletes in FIFA,” tweeted actress Zelda Williams, the daughter of Robin Williams. “Working actors in VG industry need protection.”

“Our greatest strength is our unity!” tweeted actor Jason Winston George. “Join SAG-AFTRA’s fight for video game performers.”

And just in time for Thanksgiving, veteran video game performer Jennifer Hale tweeted out to game companies Electronic Arts and Activision:

Their tweets, and many more just like them, were retweeted by followers – with lots of exclamation points!!! Whether the virtual campaign will bring the companies back to the bargaining table, however, is doubtful. But in this digital age, it was a perfect fusion of technology and union activism.

Residuals remain the key strike issue. The guild wants to give game companies the option of paying an upfront bonus to performers, or pay back-end residuals on successful games. The companies have steadfastly refused to include any residuals formula in the collective bargaining agreement.

The actors’ union, meanwhile, got more support today from ACTRA, its Canadian counterpart, which ordered members not to perform any struck work. ACTRA, which previously expressed its support for the strike, now joins Actors Equity and actors’ unions in Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand in honoring SAG-AFTRA picket lines. Now all the world’s major English-language actors’ unions are on board supporting the walkout.

“The video game corporations operate on a global scale so the support of our brothers and sisters in allied unions is vital in our continued strike,” said SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris. “The stalwart solidarity of our allied unions from around the world is part of what makes SAG-AFTRA so difficult to fight.”

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