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[UPDATED] A number of Video Game Voice Actors considering a strike

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An interesting development in the gaming world is currently taking place right now.

When it comes to narrative and cinematic games, or even the smallest but dedicated story driven games, many of them are make or break the immersion based on a character and their portrayal. This boils down to their mannerisms and their voice.

And now the voices of many of gamings biggest protagonists and antagonists are taking up arms and calling for representation for what they do. Here is the breakdown.

GameInformer Direct Quote said:
A long-running conversation between publishers and voice actors over contract terms may be coming to a head. SAG-AFTRA, the union representing actors (including voice actors) is currently considering a strike to push the matter to resolution.

Chief among the issues under discussion is the matter of “back end bonuses.” These are a trade-off, with lower fees for service, but a percentage of the gross. This is becoming more common in film, and now may become a piece of the gaming landscape.


Additionally, SAG-AFTRA is looking for stunt pay for those actors put in vocally stressful situations. Additionally, with the increase in motion capture performance, the union wants to have stunt coordinators available.

The matter has been under intense discussion since the beginning of the year. The two sides met in February and then again in June with no resolution.

Now, SAG-AFTRA is taking a vote on whether or not to strike. In order for that to happen, 75 percent of voting members would need to approve the action. If successful, members would be unable to work during the strike, and the union would ask that non-members abide by the action.

The group goes so far as to suggest that the proposal from publishers, including Activision, Disney, EA, and WB Games may not be legal. “Saying no will be much easier if the interactive community is on board,” the union indicates on its FAQ page. “It comes down to a question of power. The employers can dig in their heels indefinitely. A strong strike authorization vote is the best way to shift the power dynamic.”

So far, a number of notable voice actors have voiced their support of the strike. Included are Wil Wheaton, Phil LaMarr, Jennifer Hale, Ashly Burch, and Steve Blum, using two different hashtags (#PerformanceMatters and #IAmOnBoard2015).

What this boils down to, is that unfair contracts have been asked for by producers in the video game industry, and now to the point that voice actors have to use the organized union to negotiate further. If the negotiations continue to meet with standstills, numerous voice actors will go on strike, and we are not like to hear their voice work anytime soon.

It's a touch and go topic, one that we will be following very closely as it develops.

:arrow: SOURCE

SAG AFTRA has now authorized a full strike. This means a new meeting will be held to further discuss future payment opportunities. If no agreement is reached this time around, many major voice actors WILL go on strike.

SAG-AFTRA video game voice actors have authorized the union’s national board to call a strike with 96.5% of those voting backing a work stoppage.

SAG-AFTRA plans to ask companies to return to the bargaining table. Previous talks in February and June failed to produce an agreement on a successor deal.

Reps for the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers have refused to comment.

“It is important to note that the referendum result does not mean that members are on strike, rather, it gives the National Board the authority to declare a strike,” the union said. “A 75% ‘yes’ vote was required to give the National Board that authority. With this result in hand, the Negotiating Committee will seek to return to the bargaining table and continue to press for a fair resolution on behalf of performers working in video games.”

The contract covers work performed for Activision, Electronic Arts, Disney, Warner Bros. and other employers of video game voice actors.

The strike authorization has been supported by several notable voice actors including Elias Toufexis (“Deus Ex’s” Adam Jensen), D.C. Douglas (“Resident Evil’s” Wesker) and Jennifer Hale (“Mass Effect’s” Femshep). The movement also has Twitter hashtags: #PerformanceMatters and#iAmOnBoard2015.

:arrow: SOURCE
 

Reploid

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So they want more munny? The people who have the easiest job in the world. Remember the guy who voiced Nico in GTA4 became a little nagger? He wanted a percentage of developer's income for his avarege voice acting of his average bland character. I think this is too much. Bruce Willice gave his voice and looks to Apocalypse's main hero, and you don't hear him whining about how small his fee were.
 
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Youkai

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So ... what exactly do they want ?
better working conditions ? more money ? more prestige ?

I don't think that voice acting for a Game is that hard (I assume it is much easier than doing this for an Anime or and Actual Movie where you have to try to syncronize with the characters lips while in Video Games it should not be much work to make the Characters move there lips according to the voice of the Voice Actor ^^V)
Maybe I am wrong and I have to agree that for many new games Voice Acting is a must have but I would not want to pay like 10+% more for each game only because of the voice acting ... especially as new Games are not really cheap anyways.
 
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2ndApex

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So ... what exactly do they want ?
better working conditions ? more money ? more prestige ?

They want to not have a "trade-off" which will realistically be a pay cut most of the time.

I don't think that voice acting for a Game is that hard (I assume it is much easier than doing this for an Anime or and Actual Movie where you have to try to syncronize with the characters lips while in Video Games it should not be much work to make the Characters move there lips according to the voice of the Voice Actor ^^V)
Maybe I am wrong and I have to agree that for many new games Voice Acting is a must have but I would not want to pay like 10+% more for each game only because of the voice acting ... especially as new Games are not really cheap anyways.[/QUOTE]

Lipsyncing isn't the hard part of voice acting. If things go ideally for the VA union then nothing changes and in no scenario do game prices raise.
 

chavosaur

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Actually I don't think you realize how taxing voice acting can be on a persons throat and vocals.

I remember Mark Hamill, the voice of the Joker in the Arkham Games, reported that his throat was literally bleeding after long voice recording sessions due to the stress it put on his vocals. You also have to understand that a voice is incredibly distinct, especially in gaming. While performance capture has helped add emotion to character movement and emotional portrayal, it's the voice that conveys all of the message and tone of a game, from screams of agony, to joyous celebration.

You also don't quite take into account how these sessions go and how long they can last. Can you imagine how hard it is to probably have to sit there and scream into a microphone for over an hour just to get one take right, then having to continue to do work from that point forward for a development period of most likely months to years? Or hell, think of characters with incredibly high putched or squaky vocals that you are then stuck recording lines for in that same high stress, high pitched voice for extended periods of time. It's not that simple when you start to think about it, and if they are being underpaid for the work they do, it is certainly a problem.

A voice can make a character as much as their appearance can.
 
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Not going to lie I usually disable voice acting in games, so I may be biased but I don't think they deserve so much attention. Anyone with a voice and training could voice act to an extent.

Whether my opinions are right or not, the fact that Wil Wheaton was the first name I saw really killed any credibility.
 

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Actually I don't think you realize how taxing voice acting can be on a persons throat and vocals.

why is it that some consumers seem to think the polished/final product was easy to make? the reason it seems that way is because of the extremely long and tedious hours that went into making that product, be it a book, video game, movie, poster, painting, whatever. i always love that argument that those jobs are so easy, it never ceases to entertain me.

-another world
 

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why is it that some consumers seem to think the polished/final product was easy to make? the reason it seems that way is because of the extremely long and tedious hours that went into making that product, be it a book, video game, movie, poster, painting, whatever. i always love that argument that those jobs are so easy, it never ceases to entertain me.

-another world
Same goes for athletes. Can't tell you how many times I've heard family members complain about a particular player and say something along the lines of "Hell, I could do better than that!" Unfortunately, people like that are everywhere. It's as if the people complaining think all voice actors do is talk for a few minutes while sitting on a couch drinking beer.
 

grossaffe

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The video game industry is exploitative of its workers. At least the voice-actors have a union so they can take actions like this; programmers don't seem to have that luxury and are stuck in terrible working conditions with little recourse other than quitting and being replaced by one of the innumerable starry-eyed wannabe game-programmers.
 

Deboog

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The ignorance in this thread already is pretty hilarious.

Go back to flipping burgers.

I can't even fathom how people would think voice acting jobs are easy. Especially main roles for games like Mass Effect or actual good RPGs with thousands of spoken lines of dialogue that need proper voicing.
Well I doubt you would find a single voice actor that would say, "Gee I sure wish I started a career in burger flipping." I mean maybe it isn't easy, but voice acting is a desirable job. I don't think it's crazy to think whining about not getting paid enough, or sorry, not being allowed to get rich off of a smash hit, is annoying.

It's like with sports. Even if I was good enough, I would never want to be a professional sports player because it is so much work so much of the year, I would never get to see my family and friends. It would be terrible. But for a player to honestly draw the line at $50 million and say, "I'm just not willing to sign for less than that." That's not them weighing their options. That's them being greedy.
 
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Hells Malice

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Well I doubt you would find a single voice actor that would say, "Gee I sure wish I started a career in burger flipping." I mean maybe it isn't easy, but voice acting is a desirable job. I don't think it's crazy to think whining about not getting paid enough, or sorry, not being allowed to get rich off of a smash hit, is annoying.

It's like with sports. Even if I was good enough, I would never want to be a professional sports player because it is so much work so much of the year, I would never get to see my family and friends. It would be terrible. But for a player to honestly draw the line at $50 million and say, "I'm just not willing to sign for less than that." That's not them weighing their options. That's them being greedy.

Formal request m8
If yer gonna quote me, don't make it a worthless post with absolutely no use for existing. Takes like 5 seconds to load the page...I ain't made of time here.
I think you just misread my post, but anyway for your reading pleasure, the first two lines go together, then the last one is its own thing.
 

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Good, I can't stand JRPGs with shoddy and hammy English voice acting ;O; :P *cough* Square Enix games in English *cough*.
What part of this good, that translates to better JRPG voice acting? A strike occurring would stop a lot of prominent VAs from working, which would force amateurs to fill their places. Not saying amateurs would be bad, but they're much more likely to have shoddy and hammy English voice acting. If the SAG-AFTRA got their way, and VAs as a whole were suddenly paid better, I doubt all the shoddy and hammy English voice actors would suddenly become amazing at their job.

I'm not part of the industry (and know nothing about it), but I would imagine that bad voice acting is ultimately the fault of the developer and/or publisher. For big titles, they're either going to have casting calls or pick some already well-known VAs and ask them to work on the project. If one of the VAs they picked did poorly, wouldn't you blame the person who chose them in the first place?
 

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If this goes through, I imagine games with quality voice acting will dwindle to only those that can afford it - big AAA titles, or the rare crowdfunded indie title with a large budget. Smaller projects won't be able to afford it. Too many added costs.

On the plus side, this will effectively give birth to VA superstars, because that back end bonus means VAs can also rise along with the devs & publishers if a game strikes it rich.
 

Bimmel

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The amount of times one line can be redone..
Voice acting isn't easy, especially if you want to put down a good game.
Indeed.

For everyone who thinks it's easy: Try it yourself - and see how you suck in comparison. See how many times you must try to speak that dialogue until it's good, until it has emotions everyone will believe. That is truly hard.
 
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