It’s now looking pretty likely that the bulk of video game voice actors will be going on strike on 21st October. A long-running feud between SAG-AFTRA (Screen Actors Guild and American Foundation of Television and Radio Artists) and the video games industry seems it will come to a head at the end of this week, after nearly two years of battle. According to a bulletin posted by the joint unions, the strike will begin at midnight on the 21st unless this week’s eleventh hour negotiations can resolve things. This will see big name actors like Jennifer Hale and Wil Wheaton pursing their lips until a deal can be found.
The issue comes about because voice actors are still working according to guidelines drawn up over 20 years ago, which they say now don’t reflect either the conditions of the job, nor the money involved in the projects.
Which is to say, a couple of decades ago video games were still relatively niche, and voice acting was rarely a core element. Now, with hundreds of millions of dollars spent on AAA games, and with returns potentially in the billions, the actors want a better deal including capped residuals for successful projects, and pay that reflects more strenuous working conditions.
Any games in production since 17th February 2015 by most big-name publishers and voice studios will be affected by the strike. “A strike is not to be entered into lightly,” said SAG-AFTRA’s president, Gabrielle Carteris. “But when the employers leave us with no recourse, we must stand firm for our members. It is imperative that we secure for them the protections, compensation and benefits they deserve.” Those issues include what they call “contingent compensation” to recognise just how much more lucrative the industry is today, as well as extra pay and shorter sessions for stressful vocals, better communication about the nature of projects ahead of hiring, and the required presence of stunt coordinators for more dangerous physical performances.
The companies affected by the strike are:
Activision Publishing, Inc.
Corps of Discovery Films
Disney Character Voices, Inc.
Electronic Arts Productions, Inc.
Formosa Interactive, LLC
Insomniac Games, Inc.
Interactive Associates, Inc.
Take 2 Interactive Software
VoiceWorks Productions, Inc.
WB Games, Inc.
Interesting not to see Ubisoft on that list, although the publisher does use Blindlight. You can read their full demands via this pdf.