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Actors’ strike will likely have no impact on actual play series, say creators

The Critical Role team expresses solidarity with SAG-AFTRA, while Glass Cannon’s CEO focuses on the business

Scott Swigart
Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

The Hollywood actors’ strike will likely have little to no impact on the most popular actual play series currently in production, say creators, who live in a more ambiguous content arena than traditional films and television. Polygon reached out to several troupes, including Critical Role and Glass Cannon Network, and the streaming shows, video-on-demand archives, and related podcasts will not be impacted. But reactions to the strike vary.

The Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, better known by the acronym SAG-AFTRA, is the union that represents working actors in Hollywood and elsewhere in the United States. Its strike against the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) began at midnight on July 14 over issues such as residuals and the use of artificial intelligence. In joining the WGA, the union representing writers that is also striking over contract negotiations with AMPTP, the move will stop production on hundreds of movie and television projects around the world as a show of action against Hollywood studios.

Actual play, which has grown in popularity since well before the pandemic, has often pulled in Hollywood types to fill seats at the table. But neither SAG-AFTRA nor AMPTP is regularly involved in the productions that Polygon spoke with, and therefore they will not be affected.

“We fully support the strike and stand in solidarity with our fellow actors,” Critical Role told Polygon in an email Friday morning. “Currently, our release schedule is not impacted by the strike, but we will continue to evaluate and take the necessary steps should it be impacted in the future.”

Troy Lavallee, CEO of Glass Cannon, provided a somewhat more measured response:

We are extremely grateful that actual play podcasting and streaming does not fall under the purview of anyone as of yet and hopefully it will stay that way in perpetuum. There are enough rules in RPGs that the last thing we need is outside forces coming in to try and regulate how we gather together to play games. At the end of the day, we are all gamers who want to share their love of gaming with others. It is a miracle that we were able to turn that passion into a business and we are proud that independent organizations, such as ours, who operate on far smaller budgets and shorter timelines than mainstream media companies, are able to offer dignified and equitable spaces for gamers who also happen to be performers, writers and producers, to express their passion and creativity in the still burgeoning art form that is actual play entertainment. With a small, but ever growing stable of full-time employees who rely on the success of our content to survive and to have access to health care, there is nothing that would ever stop or slow down the content creation machine that we’ve worked so hard to become.

Polygon has reached out to other troupes, and will update this article with their response.