After many trials and tribulations, the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio who represent most video game voice actors in the United States has recently issued a strike date for October 21. According to the union, the game industry has refused to offer residual payment bonuses, reduce voice sessions to 2 hours to prevent throat damage, provide information to what games they’re performing for, as well as deny other profit-sharing benefits. The attorney representing the industry Scott J. Witkin stated they’ve been participating in negotiations for the past 18 months “in good faith” and that his clients are “deeply disappointed” by the strike date.
Witkin claims, “We consider the Union’s threatened labor action to call a strike precipitous, unnecessary, and an action that will only harm their membership…SAG-AFTRA represents performers in less than 25 percent of the video games on the market. Any strike would not only deny SAG-AFTRA’s membership work, but this would also give their competitors, who do not engage union talent, a leg up while any strike would be in place.”
He goes on to state current negotiations on the table include wage increases for most performers with more avenues for compensation that would result in hundreds of dollars more in payments for limited integration and ratification bonuses. He also states, “Although the Companies have had only one report of workplace injury due to vocal stress, the Companies have continued to look for ways to reduce the burdens on performers in this area through the more flexible work scheduling and other innovative work arrangements.”
As of now several prominent voice actors have spoken out against the industry including Roger Craig Smith (Batman, Assassin’s Creed), Jennifer Hale (Mass Effect, Guild Wars), and actor Wil Wheaton. Companies targeted by the strike include Activision, Blindlight, Corps of Discovery Films, Disney Character Voices, Electronic Arts, Formosa Interactive, Insomniac Games, Interactive Association, Take-Two, VoiceWorks Production, and WB Games.
Not only would this represent a humongous loss for the gaming industry if agreements are not met, it would also represent a loss for most video game voice actors out in the market today. The current AAA industry is a stressful, unsteady, largely thankless place to work in. Now, we as consumers have to ask ourselves are the games we buy really worth the kind of strife present in the business now?