Unionized video game voice actors to strike on October 21

By Shawn Knight · 21 replies
Oct 17, 2016
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  1. The Screen Actors Guild - American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), the union that represents voice actors whose work appears in AAA titles from some of the top game publishers in the business, is preparing to have its members go on strike after nearly two years of unsuccessful negotiations with the industry.

    The union takes issue with the fact that the gaming industry doesn’t offer voice actors residual payment clauses or other forms of profit sharing. As Deadline highlights, SAG-AFTRA claims the industry has also rejected proposals that would limit stressful recording sessions to two hours in an effort to reduce the risk of permanent damage to an actor’s voice.

    What’s more, the union doesn’t agree with a set of proposals from the gaming industry that would impose hefty fines if an agent doesn’t participate in every audition for which they’ve signed up for. Additionally, the industry wants the ability to fine voice actors more than $1,000 if they show up late for a session or aren’t fully engaged in the work.

    The video game industry has traditionally been quite secretive, sometimes not even telling voice actors what project they’re working on. The union aims to change this and also have employers specifically outline the work that their members are being hired to perform.

    Companies listed as targets of the strike include Activision, Blindlight, Corps of Discovery Films, Disney Character Voices, Electronic Arts, Formosa Interactive, Insomniac Games, Interactive Associates, Take-Two Interactive, VoiceWorks Productions and WB Games.

    Scott J. Witlin, a lawyer with Barnes & Thornburg LLP which is representing the gaming industry, described the union’s threats as an unnecessary, precipitous action that would only harm its members. Part of the reason for this, Witlin notes, is that the SAG-AFTRA represents performers in less than 25 percent of video games on the market. As such, a strike would not only put union members out of work, it would give their non-union competitors a leg up during that time.

    Witlin further notes that the existing contract between represented video game companies and the SAG-AFTRA pays all performers more than $100 an hour plus benefits. Some performers, he added, bring home substantially more than that.

    With regard to workplace injuries, the industry says it has only had one report of injury due to vocal stress and continues to look for ways to reduce vocal stress via flexible work schedules and other arrangements.

    Representatives from both sides are scheduled to participate in a negotiation session on October 17 through October 19 in hopes of hammering out a mutually agreeable deal ahead of the planned strike on October 21. If a strike does occur, it’ll only impact games that went into production after February 17, 2015.

    Mockup courtesy GameTyrant

    Permalink to story.

  2. davislane1

    davislane1 TS Grand Inquisitor Posts: 4,737   +3,757

    When are there job openings following the strike? I'll work for 75% of what they're asking and won't unionize.
    killmess likes this.
  3. stewi0001

    stewi0001 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,681   +1,080

  4. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 8,647   +3,274

    Yeah, it's tough being an overpaid primadonna. They've gotta do something.
    killmess, wastedkill and Panda218 like this.
  5. Camikazi

    Camikazi TS Evangelist Posts: 925   +284

    $100 an hour plus benefits? Yeah, I'm with the other commenters, 75% and no union right here if you need me.
    killmess and wastedkill like this.
  6. jonny888

    jonny888 TS Booster Posts: 37   +35

    Is it possible SOME of them earn $100 an hour because they're sought after talent that are skilled at what they do who are working in a very niché job role where new projects/work opportunities don't come along all that often?

    I'd love to see which of you would be perfectly okay and happy if you were threatened with being fined $1000 just for being late to work, or fined for even just APPLYING for a job and then changing your mind and not going to the interview.

    And what's so strange about wanting to know what role it is they're even performing for? Maybe, as actors, it would help them better perform if they knew more about the overall setting and their characters. Maybe, they don't want to perform the role of a mass serial killer and would rather know in advance that that's what they'd be asked to do.

    I see nothing wrong with their actions, beyond the fact that it probably won't help them very much
  7. ikesmasher

    ikesmasher TS Evangelist Posts: 3,000   +1,319

    id even do 50. what joke these people are
    wastedkill and Wendy Oltman like this.
  8. davislane1

    davislane1 TS Grand Inquisitor Posts: 4,737   +3,757

    I'm fine with that. I've never been late. Literally ever.

    (Pro tip: If being on time is important, always plan to be 30-45min early. Virtually guarantees you won't be late.)

    I'm fine with that too, because I would laugh at the condition and not apply.

    I'm particularly fine with this gem:

    SAG-AFTRA claims the industry has also rejected proposals that would limit stressful recording sessions to two hours in an effort to reduce the risk of permanent damage to an actor’s voice.

    Now you might be wondering what cold, unfeeling bastard would be fine with this. I'll tell you what kind.

    The kind with lawyers. That's who.
    wastedkill likes this.
  9. Experimentongod

    Experimentongod TS Maniac Posts: 269   +111

    So these clowns want to not show up to auditions whenever they feel like it, show up late for work and phone it in with no consequences, not work more than 2 hours per session and still get paid $100 an hour plus residuals. Yeah sure guys, let's see how that one goes.
  10. hahahanoobs

    hahahanoobs TS Evangelist Posts: 2,040   +678

    "...the industry wants the ability to fine voice actors more than $1,000 if they show up late for a session or aren’t fully engaged in the work."

    We need something like this for developers and publishers first! For example, if your last game had complaints about being half-assed, they should not be able to accept pre-orders on their next title.

    Yea I know this will never happen, but I can dream.
    DAOWAce and BlueDrake like this.
  11. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 3,343   +1,987

    I'll work for 70% so I can edge out these other scabs! Hey, come on guys, with Samsung stock in the toilet I got to make up the difference! I do a great imitation of Yosemite Sam, that would be a GREAT voice for Laura Croft in her next Tomb Raider ..... no?
    Axle Grease likes this.
  12. yRaz

    yRaz Nigerian Prince Posts: 2,319   +1,407

    $100 isn't unreasonable when you think they only work an average of 5-8 hours a week. Especially considering games like GTA have $100,000,000 budgets. Look at Skyrim and how bad the voice acting was. If you want quality voicing acting you have to hire people who are talented. People with skill demand a high price. If you want Pixar quality voice acting you just have to pay for it.

    Think of it like this, are you always going to go with the lowest priced contractor? They'll do a **** job, but you get what you pay for. Also, with things like benefits becoming a thing of the past in the US, I'm glad they're fighting for it. Someone has to fight for it and it certainly wont be Hillary or Trump.
    LenovoX, Johnnyblaze1957 and 9Nails like this.
  13. Johnnyblaze1957

    Johnnyblaze1957 TS Enthusiast Posts: 58   +12

    If you have not worked in an industry we really have no right to comment per-sa on this as it is a minefield,we as consumers want the best but are we willing to pay for it? If we lose really good voice actors with the way games are made will we still play them,look at the last of us how good was the voice acting in that. Try yelling for more than 10 minutes and see how you feel and then do take after take and lets not forget they also do the physical as well. $100 an is a lot of money but see the whole picture as well as film and also gaming still take advantage of people,it's not all cut and dry.
  14. Wendy Oltman

    Wendy Oltman TS Booster Posts: 129   +16

    Im ready doing 50%. Count me in :p
  15. mailpup

    mailpup TS Special Forces Posts: 7,186   +469

    No, according to the article, the union contract requires all performers to be paid more than $100 per hour plus benefits.

    From the article: "Witlin further notes that the existing contract between represented video game companies and the SAG-AFTRA pays all performers more than $100 an hour plus benefits. Some performers, he added, bring home substantially more than that."
  16. mbrowne5061

    mbrowne5061 TS Evangelist Posts: 747   +357

    Honestly, both sides seem to be making more unreasonable demands, than reasonable ones.
    DAOWAce and Johnnyblaze1957 like this.
  17. mailpup

    mailpup TS Special Forces Posts: 7,186   +469

    I think that's how it often works. In the process of negotiations the two sides usually meet somewhere in the middle, not necessarily exactly in the middle but somewhere in there. Sometimes as in this case that process breaks down and here we are.
  18. LenovoX

    LenovoX TS Enthusiast Posts: 34   +6

    most people want free meals, but there's no such thing...
  19. Das Pooch

    Das Pooch TS Rookie

    I agree with most of the commenters here (****, I'll do it for just 50/hr, lol). I'm also hoping that the strike drags on and backfires on these primadonnas - we need new blood, ****ing YESTERDAY. I'm beyond sick of hearing Nolan North, Troy Baker, Jennifer Hale and Steve Blum in goddamn everything.
  20. MayoSoftware

    MayoSoftware TS Rookie

    I also agree. This is nonsense. Another group of greedy people.
    Ask them this - Are the voice actors willing to return a percentage of the money made if the software flops? NO

    Besides you are only recording once, if the software is successful, it wasn't your voice that made it successful so why should you get anything extra beyond a days work? Who do you think you are SIRI or Cortana? It's not like a sitcom or a movie. You should be grateful you got the gig, add it to your resumé and move on.

    This is another reason software and other items become more expensive at the expense of the customer/end user.

    See what happened when the network tv writers got greedy? Added more commercials to network shows just so they could pay them. Now the sitcom market is dead, replaced with fake 'reality' shows and now we're still stuck with 22min per hour of commercials, and cannot undo this.

    That itself is what is killing Network TV [#cordcutters], many people cannot stand to be bombarded with advertising. Then that can be as many as 140 commercials. Including the stupid 15 sec promos for the show you are currently watching, as well as the local station plugs, telling you what station you are watching.
    We know this already!!

    If it doesn't stop the gaming industry too will wind up either going overseas for voice actors, and we'd really hate to see former customer support operators in video games. (Ewww I cannot even imagine the pain that would be)
  21. DAOWAce

    DAOWAce TS Booster Posts: 268   +39

    Fines for being late or changing your mind.. yeah, uh, no, this isn't a court session.

    As mentioned, both parties are being stupid, but I'm still on the side of the voice actors here regardless.
  22. Camikazi

    Camikazi TS Evangelist Posts: 925   +284

    Games have timelines and things need to be done on time so being late affects that and changing your mind after saying yes means they have to waste more time in order to find a replacement. Fining you for those two things when working on something that has a limited timeline is understandable.

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