Writers’ Strike Ends as WGA Nears Contract Approval, But Battle Extends to Video Games

In a significant turn of events, Hollywood’s writers’ union has brought its nearly five-month-long strike to a close after board members gave the green light to a contract agreement with studios.

On Tuesday, both the governing boards of the eastern and western branches of the Writers Guild of America voted in favor of the proposed deal, signaling an end to the strike and allowing writers to resume work starting at 12:01 a.m. ET on Wednesday. Although writers still need to ratify the contract through their own vote, lifting the strike empowers them to continue working during this process, as confirmed by the Writers Guild in an email to its members.

While the writers’ strike is drawing to a close, the Hollywood actors’ strike remains ongoing, with no signs of talks on the horizon. Nonetheless, a newfound sense of optimism permeated the picketing actors, who had not yet taken to the streets since the tentative agreement reached by the writers on Sunday night.

Marissa Cuevas, an actor known for her roles in TV series like “Kung Fu” and “The Big Bang Theory,” expressed her relief, saying, “For a hot second, I really thought that this was going to go on until next year. Knowing that at least one of us has gotten a good deal gives a lot of hope that we will also get a good deal.”

Although the writers’ picket lines have been suspended, they are encouraged to stand in solidarity with actors, and many, including “Mad Men” creator Matthew Weiner and “ER” actor Noah Wyle, joined the lines on Tuesday, demonstrating their unwavering support throughout the strike.

Weiner acknowledged the vital role of the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) in providing leverage during the negotiations, stating, “They were very brave to do it.”

The battle for video game

Meanwhile, striking actors have expanded their walkout to include the highly profitable video game market, potentially intensifying the pressure on Hollywood studios to reach a settlement with performers involved in video game voice acting, motion-capture work, and stunts.

SAG-AFTRA announced this bold move late on Monday, revealing that an overwhelming 98% of its members had voted in favor of a strike against video game companies if ongoing negotiations do not yield positive results. Talks were slated for the following day.

Acting in video games encompasses a wide range of roles, from voice acting to motion-capture performances and stunts. In 2016, video game actors initiated a strike, which lasted nearly a year.

Many of the same issues present in the broader actors’ strike are relevant to the video game negotiations, including concerns about wages, safety measures, and the use of artificial intelligence. Notable companies involved in these negotiations include gaming giants Activision, Electronic Arts, Epic Games, Take 2 Productions, as well as Disney and Warner Bros.’ video game divisions.

Fran Drescher, President of SAG-AFTRA, emphasized, “It’s time for the video game companies to stop playing games and get serious about reaching an agreement on this contract.”

Audrey Cooling, a spokesperson for video game producers, countered by stating they are “continuing to negotiate in good faith” and have already reached tentative agreements on more than half of the proposals under discussion.

This year, U.S. consumers have contributed a staggering $34.9 billion to the video game industry, covering games, consoles, and accessories, as reported by the market research group Circana.

Information for this story was found via CBC and the sources and companies mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to the organizations discussed. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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