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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
 

HaloEffect17

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I remember Mark Hamill, the voice of the Joker in the Arkham Games
Wasn't Mark Hamill the Star Wars guy? Luke Skywalker, anyone? Never knew he was the joker in the Batman games.

Also, I have to think about how the Japanese voice actors are being treated. They go through some really tough competition just to have their voice in animes and games. It's interesting to see how American standards are compared to theirs.
 
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Pedeadstrian

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Wasn't Mark Hamill the Star Wars guy? Luke Skywalker, anyone?
Yes, he was, but if chavosaur mentioned Luke Skywalker in a thread about voice actors, it wouldn't make much sense. Mark Hamill is well known for multiple roles, including the Joker in the Arkham games (and the cartoon).
 

grossaffe

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Wasn't Mark Hamill the Star Wars guy? Luke Skywalker, anyone? Never knew he was the joker in the Batman games.

Also, I have to think about how the Japanese voice actors are being treated. They go through some really tough competition just to have their voice in animes and games. It's interesting to see how American standards are compared to theirs.
Mark Hamill was Luke Skywalker, but his career after Star Wars was primarily in voice-acting. His role of The Joker in Batman: The Animated Series is his well known role outside of Luke Skywalker, and was the reason they brought him in for the video games.
 
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GameSystem

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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?
I think he meant that instead of people hiring trash VAs, they would just not hire anyone and use the Japanese dub and keep it subtitled or something.
Anyone else reminded of Chaos Wars with its voice acting done entirely by the publisher's CEO's family?


Or perhaps they'll push the industry to the point where the only available VAs in the industry are Hatsune Miku and Microsoft Sam.
I see your Chaos Wars and raise you an Animal Soccer World
 
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It's not like regular acting where you're in the scene and can react accordingly. VA's just sit in a room by themselves and read lines off a piece of paper with someone in another room telling them what emotion to use, they have nothing to react to, not even the lines of whoever they're talking to which is much harder, even harder for video game voice acting because they don't have last week's episode to give them a better idea of context.
 
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Soo, if I got it right, voice actors want more money for their work, mmright?
Meh, not caring. It's not that a game needs voice acting to make it better. I mean, how many games din't have voices but are still regarded as masterpieces?
And besides, here's an easy solution:
 
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ferofax

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It's not like regular acting where you're in the scene and can react accordingly. VA's just sit in a room by themselves and read lines off a piece of paper with someone in another room telling them what emotion to use, they have nothing to react to, not even the lines of whoever they're talking to which is much harder, even harder for video game voice acting because they don't have last week's episode to give them a better idea of context.
I think there's usually a voice acting director of sorts, and scripts for voice actors follow the movie format, meaning the script includes scene descriptions and maybe even director's notes for context. I don't think they use something like those transcripts for in-game dialogue that some people upload (like for story driven games with fantastic writing, some games still deliver a good story with just the dialogue).

ALSO:
I directed voiceover and mocap, and designed/wrote 3 million-selling games. And I can say from experience that voiceover work is the easiest, cushiest gig in all of video games. It requires little prep, the conditions are luxurious, and the pay is great.

Maybe if there was a union for devs, they'd have close to those kinds of perks instead of body-battering crunch, layoffs looming overhead and not getting full credit for the work they do.
Take it with a grain of salt. I just copied it off the comment section of Kotaku, lol.
 

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Soo, if I got it right, voice actors want more money for their work, mmright?
Meh, not caring. It's not that a game needs voice acting to make it better. I mean, how many games din't have voices but are still regarded as masterpieces?
Many of the "masterpieces" you refer to are fairly old. Obviously we weren't going to have AAA voice acting in the original Mario, Sonic, or Megaman games. Sure, a game can be great without voice acting, but this is the 21st century. Games are getting bigger and more advanced. I would certainly hate to see the next Mass Effect, Final Fantasy, or Elder Scrolls game have no voice acting.

I don't believe the argument that voices don't help characters. A voice actor that can emote and inflect well can make a character even better. Sure, bad voice acting could really kill the mood, but great voice acting just makes the game that more immersive.
 

RustInPeace

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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.

I was going to ask when Bruce Willis did that voice acting job. The game came out in the late 90s, and the Willis then must be different compared to Willis now. There was some stink from him about wanting more money than he was offered for Expendables 3, and it led to no role in that film. Probably for the best because the film was underwhelming, but I keep hearing how grumpy Willis in on interviews. It's kind of souring my love of the guy.

Anyways, yeah, make the voice actors happy, they're getting more and more important as video games get more and more cinematic. I haven't played a lot of games with voice acting, most recently the Bayonetta games. I'd hate it I was robbed of the main character's lovely face, and the bad motherfucker Rodan.
 

anhminh

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Western gamer doesn't seem to appreciate voice acting much. They are like "Whatever, there are just minor aspect anyway" and most want to ditch voice acting all together.
Most of the time voice acting is just being put up together to get better review, no one actually buy the game because it have good voice acting. Also outside of some big WRPG, most other game are Japanese setting and their Anime character sometimes doesn't work with Western voice acting and make it award.
 

HaloEffect17

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Western gamer doesn't seem to appreciate voice acting much. They are like "Whatever, there are just minor aspect anyway" and most want to ditch voice acting all together.
Most of the time voice acting is just being put up together to get better review, no one actually buy the game because it have good voice acting. Also outside of some big WRPG, most other game are Japanese setting and their Anime character sometimes doesn't work with Western voice acting and make it award.
Quite frankly, if I had a choice to have Japanese voice acting with subtitles vs. English dubbed in a game (i.e. FEA or Xenoblade), I'd choose the former.
 
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dimmidice

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in my opinion games could do with less voice acting. voice acting takes up too much time and money for what honestly isn't very important. that might just be me though. i always just use subtitles anyway :/
 

HaloEffect17

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Soo, if I got it right, voice actors want more money for their work, mmright?
Meh, not caring. It's not that a game needs voice acting to make it better. I mean, how many games din't have voices but are still regarded as masterpieces?
And besides, here's an easy solution:
Love this game! Big Star Fox fan.
 

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Take it with a grain of salt. I just copied it off the comment section of Kotaku, lol.

I think I would sooner trust a comment from 4chan.

Some interesting opinions thus far, and many of those go into "and they accuse me of being a callous, unempathising bastard" territory which is impressive. Voice acting for me is an odd one -- by and large if you take care of your voice (which usually amounts to not abusing it) then it will last you a lifetime where you are pretty much guaranteed to be a fat cunt by the time you are 50 unless you make very very serious efforts. I find it very odd when they stick some voice actor on the DVD extras for an anime DVD but at the same time it is not money for old rope.
The known (not necessarily) voice actors thing strikes me more as a side effect of some in the game world being those that did not quite manage to break into films, or falsely believing games need to be more like films. I do not know if it is has ever taken me out but it has never got me to consider something like getting [some author] to write the script might, or even [some composer] to do the soundtrack.
 

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How much do voice actors in video games get either way?
I imagine it's a rather difficult question to answer considering all the factors, including but not limited to: celebrity, performance, amount of lines, difficulty of lines, budget of developer, etc. The main character of a 40 hour game would make more than the blacksmith at a small village, I'd wager.
 

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I imagine it's a rather difficult question to answer considering all the factors, including but not limited to: celebrity, performance, amount of lines, difficulty of lines, budget of developer, etc. The main character of a 40 hour game would make more than the blacksmith at a small village, I'd wager.

and even if you think they're paid a seemingly more than reasonable amount it's still a gig-by-gig career with means lots of uncertain downtime and the hours spent training, taking lessons, looking for parts, auditioning, rehearsing etc. which is why a lot actors starting off struggle and have to take part-time jobs to compensate that downtime and probably to pay off lessons

and while the likes of Tara Strong and Steven Blum have already made a name for themselves and probably don't have to worry about that, i'm wondering if their demands will extend to the less known VAs that probably need better standards for compensation then they do
 

VartioArtel

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Honestly most western voice actors probably got their head up their ass and anyone in America praising them is probably equally head up the ass.

I mean come on, people were ragging about Peter Dinklage's voice being removed from the Ghost in Destiny, then Nolandroid became a thing with the expansion's release and people are singing Nolan's praises. (I suppose that first cutscene about the Ghost's life story sold him pretty damn well. That and... oh there's bombs...)

Voice actors can be replaced, bad ones especially. Yes. I called Dinklage's Destiny performance bad.

Of course, it feels like most Video game script writers set up voice actors to fail. Even Nolan couldn't fix Destiny's terrible 1.0-to-Pre-TTK script. (And unless Bungie intentionally said 'do whatever', then there's no way any of Nolan's pre-TTK content lines are his fault).
 
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