How the Video Game Voice Actor Strike May Impact Development


Video game voice actors for major gaming developers will go on strike later this month, which may negatively affect development for upcoming triple-A titles.

While they don’t always get as much recognition as the current line-up of blockbuster movie celebrities, the actors that lend their voices to video games work hard at their craft. As such, they expect certain standards while working with game developers, both large and small.

Most of these video game voice actors are members of a guild, called SAG-AFTRA, that helps gaming voice actors work out deals with developers in the industry and maintains certain standards in the work place. For a little more than a year, that guild has been in negotiations with the industry's biggest developers, working on creating a fair contract for voice actors that is rooted in industry standards and best practices. Unfortunately, all negotiations from the last year have failed.

In response to these failed meetings and negotiation sessions, the SAG-AFTRA guild and many prominent voice actors have called for a strike against 11 gaming companies, including some of the biggest, most well-known companies in the industry. The strike will kick off on October 21st if SAG-AFTRA is unable to come to a deal before then, which it expects to be the case.

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In a statement to Deadline about the impending Strike, SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris offered the guild’s perspective on the situation:

Through many months of bargaining with interactive employers, we have not reached a fair agreement covering SAG-AFTRA performers working in video games--often the most popular games in the world. A strike is not to be entered into lightly, but when the employers leave us with no recourse, we must stand firm for our members. It is imperative that we secure for them the protections, compensation and benefits they deserve.

Among the 11 companies targeted by the strike, there are a few that stand out from the bunch, including Activision, Electronic Arts, and Take-Two Interactive. The full list of companies can be found below:

  • Activision
  • Blindlight
  • Corps of Discovery Films
  • Disney Character Voices
  • Electronic Arts
  • Formosa Interactive
  • Insomniac Games
  • Interactive Associates
  • Take-Two Interactive
  • VoiceWorks Production
  • WB Games

SAG-AFTRA said voice actors will be going on strike against projects that went into production after February 17, 2015. That means any major titles currently in development could be affected. If the guild and actors go through with the strike, there’s no telling how long it may last, and how many games it could affect. But it will undoubtedly hinder the efforts of the developers involved, and may cause some games to experience unexpected delays.

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That said, the gaming industry has responded to the strike with a statement of its own. Scott J. Witlin, who’s representing the industry in the negotiations, claims the industry has been negotiating “in good faith” over the last year and a half, and that the industry is “deeply disappointed” by the upcoming strike. According to Witlin, voice actors are already paid more than $100 per hour, plus benefits. He also offered some additional comments about the current state of affairs for voice actors, and the efforts the gaming industry is implementing to help actors succeed. Witlin said:

The video game industry's current proposals on the negotiation table includes wage increases for most performers and additional avenues for compensation that could yield many hundreds of dollars more in payments for limited integration and ratification bonuses. Although the Companies have had only one report of workplace injury due to vocal stress, the Companies have continued to look to ways to reduce the burdens on performers in this area through the more flexible work scheduling and other innovative work arrangements.

Naturally, gamers would like to see the two parties come to a reasonable agreement in a timely fashion. While it doesn’t look like the two groups will conclude negotiations before the October 21st strike, hopefully the delay won’t be too long. Time will tell what affect the strike will have on the industry over the next couple years, but if all goes well, it shouldn’t keep gamers from enjoying the titles they’re looking forward to, and both game developers and voice actors can continue working together in harmony.

What do you think about the voice actor strike? Do you think the two parties will come to a resolution soon?

Source: Deadline

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