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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
 

EllioneDHunter

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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.
The text isn't what they're saying, the emotions are sooo misplaced, they sound bored, most of it is so robotic, FUCCKKK MEEE. Why grima?! I need to change this future, post-fucking-haste!

PS, link of the video after it sounds like it had Laharl's VA but.. umm..
 

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Fair enough on them. The acting industry is tough one wheter it be live action or VA os understandable they want improve their T&Cs. Good voicing can really add to a gaem and help sell the narrative like MGS and TLOU.

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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jumpman17

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Stunt pay for vocally taxing lines? WTF. "This line is pretty emotional and I will have to use all my vocal talent to read this. I can do it without stunt pay of course, but I wouldn't want to stress my vocal cords though so the voice acting may suck because of such".
 

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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.
Thank you for saying this. I'm tired of all the comments (not just here, but across the internet as well) saying "hurr hurr, voice acting bums want more munny to just sit in a studio and talk." If it's really that simple, why haven't any of them become voice actors? It shows extreme ignorance and is a huge insult to the crazy good voice talent out there.
 

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Man, this thread made me kek several times.

I get the residual payments, since that's a standard for literally every other voice over media except for video games (TV commercial voice overs make nearly as much as video game voice actors do, for waaaay less work thanks to residuals), and I get the stunt coordinator part, but I don't get the "stress" part, mostly because AFAIK voice actors already get paid a certain amount for "health concerns" and, generally, their contracts will cover any health issues that a voice actor might incur on the job.
 
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Games don't need voice acting to be good. Therefor, just make games without voice acting, all will be fine and dandy.


I am playing a game, not watching a movie. Give me good music and screw the voices.

We want more textboxes in our games!!
 
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Games don't need voice acting to be good. Therefor, just make games without voice acting, all will be fine and dandy.


I am playing a game, not watching a movie. Give me good music and screw the voices.

We want more textboxes in our games!!
what?? music?1!?!!? come on, I want to play a game not listen a concert.
and textboxes?? really?!?!?! if I want to read then I grab a book.

While voice acting isn't essential it's important for serious games. just imagine Metal Gear Solid without voices or just gibberish a-la Rayman 2/Banjo-Kazooie, it wont be the same.
and please don't tell Japanese seiyus about this. I like my waifus with proper voices.
 

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Without reading too much into this... The difficulty of voice acting depends HEAVILY on the amount of strain one places of their voice to achieve a certain sound. Mark Hamill doing Joker? That's not his regular speaking voice. More taxing on the throat. If the voice actor is simply using their normal speaking voice, then yes, it's not too straining. They won't break a sweat or have a sore throat. I can speak for hours easily, faking emotion if needed, but if I want to sound like a decaying zombie super villain, I have to strain a bit and won't be able to to but a few good takes.
That said, voice acting is one of those jobs that is a passion for some people. They are lucky to be able to make a living doing something like this and to hear them complain is painful to me, who is stuck doing "normal" work, even though my passions lie elsewhere. I play guitar at a bar for a free pitcher of light beer and am am happy about it. Quitting my day job to pursue my passion would be amazing and I can't even imagine complaining about shit. I'd like to think that I'd appreciate the opportunity.
 
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Games don't need voice acting to be good. Therefor, just make games without voice acting, all will be fine and dandy.


I am playing a game, not watching a movie. Give me good music and screw the voices.

We want more textboxes in our games!!
Following your crazy logic, we should remove voices from movies, as well. After all, I'm watching a movie, not listening to the radio, so we should go back to the text popups of the golden age of cinema! :P
 
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Skip to 31:20 for the voice actors.

I think Elder Scrolls and Fallout are good examples of voice actors who need to do tons of lines but still put out incredible voice acting. The making of videos also talk about the voice actors for Skyrim and New Vegas and the VAs are pretty content.

Thus idea that voice acting is stressful is from amateurs.
 

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Following your crazy logic, we should remove voices from movies, as well. After all, I'm watching a movie, not listening to the radio, so we should go back to the text popups of the golden age of cinema! :P

YES! Then we can just watch as this fad of movies with voices goes away!!
 

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Anyone in ANY aspect of the entertainment industry gets paid (not just) for their singular moments onstage/mic/camera but also for all the experience they have and had to pay for (themselves) prior to that session and all the education they must upkeep as well as practice. Those never having worked in an entertainment field think someone just walks out on stage and it miraculously comes out of their mouths perfectly, the first time.

I've been on stage entertaining since my teens (more than 38 years) and I can say categorically, it's not so

The public doesn't see the blood, sweat, tears, dues and trials and tribulationals the professional goes through before getting to where they are. This is one reason places like Los Angeles Ca. require a S.A.G. card to work in any level of entertainment there and those things cost thousands of dollars yearly.

Will Smith said " An Actor gets paid in public, for what they practice in private" - well said Will.
Though I'm sure this goes for other careers as well.
 
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Why not give the programmers a cut of the profits? I mean, without them there wouldn't even be a game. Why not Graphic artists? Sound artists? Creative directors? Goddamn fucking anyone of the hundreds of people who are involved in making a single game? What makes these fuckers so fucking special snowflakes that they need a fucking payraise of that magnitude? "Oh, but acting is hard!" ... yeah, so is any other job involved in creating a game. Fuck those people with a pine cone!
 
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Why not give the programmers a cut of the profits? I mean, without them there wouldn't even be a game. Why not Graphic artists? Sound artists? Creative directors? Goddamn fucking anyone of the hundreds of people who are involved in making a single game? What makes these fuckers so fucking special snowflakes that they need a fucking payraise of that magnitude? "Oh, but acting is hard!" ... yeah, so is any other job involved in creating a game. Fuck those people with a pine cone!
You're giving a slippery slope fallacy with an end result that actually seems like a good idea. Why not give everyone who participated a cut?
 

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Why not give the programmers a cut of the profits? I mean, without them there wouldn't even be a game. Why not Graphic artists? Sound artists? Creative directors? Goddamn fucking anyone of the hundreds of people who are involved in making a single game? What makes these fuckers so fucking special snowflakes that they need a fucking payraise of that magnitude? "Oh, but acting is hard!" ... yeah, so is any other job involved in creating a game. Fuck those people with a pine cone!
Why do they even get paid anything? They should be thankful to have the opportunity to have people hearing their voices!
 
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DJPlace

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we never had voice acting until maybe the late 90's... still... don't care...
 

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UPDATE

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
 
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