Video Game Voice Actors To Go On Strike This Friday

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.
Blindlight, LLC
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.

I would also like to suggest they add to their negotiations a condition that voice acting companies improve their websites. Good grief, it’s a wonder they’re not using GeoCities.

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  1. Sin Vega says:

    Horrible creatures. I hate them.

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    Harlander says:

    Best of luck to ’em.

  3. MurrayPoopins says:

    It’s good to finally see industrial action making its way to the games industry although it’d be even better to see some progress towards a union for game developers, but I won’t hold my breath.

    • ButteringSundays says:

      Who would Game Developers be unionising against?

    • Shuck says:

      Yeah, it’s not as if game developers get residuals. Or decent working conditions. I’ve long thought we should unionize, but my coworkers tend to be pretty uniformly against the idea. They’re mostly young, and by the time they find working conditions intolerable, they simply quit and move to another industry. (Which is how the industry has managed to maintain the same practices for so long.) That’s not good for the industry, though.

      • MisterFurious says:

        How about paying all the writers and programmers and artists working 50-60 hours a week a fair wage before worrying about the actors that sit in a booth for a few hours reading a script.

        • Emeraude says:

          How about those people start unionizing and defending their rights?

          Basically what you’re saying is, because those people accept to be exploited and refuse to give themselves collective bargaining power, other people shouldn’t look out for their own interest? Is that it?

        • DrMcCoy says:

          Please don’t try antagonizing one group of workers against another group of workers. This is not helping; that’s playing into the employers hands. That’s basically the crabs in a bucket situation.

          The answer to “but group X doesn’t get Y either” is not to
          give Y to no one. It never is. The answer is to help group X unionize, so that they can get Y as well, or other things that are relevant to their situation.

          In the case of the game devs, things relevant to them is probably very reduced crunch time, overtime pay, proper job security (so that they can’t be layed off right when the game’s shipped), actual offices (instead of these dreadful open-floor plans), …

        • P.Funk says:

          How about your get your brain wrapped around the idea of solidarity.

  4. Optimaximal says:

    Could this mark a momentous occasion where for the first time in just 2613 years, Nolan North will *not* be recording a voice for a video game?

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    Oakreef says:

    I’m kind of impressed all that fancy (and horrible) text animation plays on the blindlight website even though I have javascript blocked. I didn’t know you could that kind of timed animation with just CSS.

    • Kefren says:

      Good point – I block all scripts and overlays with a plugin, yet see that too.

    • Otterley says:

      They’re using CSS transitions. You can do some nice stuff that way. Not as flexible as JavaScript, of course. But at least it doesn’t get blocked :)

      (Perhaps some CSS transforms, too. Only saw transitions at a cursory glance.)

  6. Pogs says:

    I for one look forward to more ham acting in video games. Its much more memorable than when delivered by a profession voice actor.

    I mean what is one of the most remembered line in Star Wars? ‘You rebel scum’. Terribly delivered but much quoted!

  7. Kefren says:

    The voice actress who is recording some of my darker books for Audible/Amazon also voiced a number of NPCs in the most recent Dragon Age game. She’s pretty amazing. It’s not easy to make a character come to life via just the words (and believe me, I had tried recording my own voice once – yikes, it even sent me to sleep.)

  8. Gothnak says:

    Voice actors tend to get pretty damn good rates per hour for sitting in a recording studio and reading some lines.

    I’ve worked with Hollywood talent who actually enjoy it as much as acting work as they can just pop down from their house in whatever they feel like wearing, walk into a recording studio, grab a cup of coffee and earn many thousands of pounds for doing some voice work for a few hours.

    What’s next? Voice actors demanding a % profit on all the products whose adverts they voice?

    The blooming developers who spend years of their lives working on these games for a tiny proportion of what a voice actor gets per hour often doesn’t receive a % of game revenue, so why do voice actors think they deserve it for turning up and doing a week’s work?

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      Cooper says:

      Maybe the developers should unionise then? It baffles me that there is virtually no unionising, yet we constantly hear horror stories of crunch and the poor effect this has on health, family & wellbeing.

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      Jekadu says:

      Voice actors going on strike and developers unionizing are two unrelated issues.

    • Someoldguy says:

      I suspect it’s a case of different standards. An animated film pays top dollar for recognised actors voice talent because its believed to be a big part of the overall success of the production. The same really isn’t true of video games. It was cool to have Leonard Nimoy voicing parts of Civ IV, but I doubt many sales were won or lost over it. Provided you can get someone reasonably competent, it should be fine. If the recognised names start demanding slices of the profits, maybe it’ll open the door for soundalikes to develop their careers.

      • Gothnak says:

        I have also worked on projects where a sequel used the same character and the actor upped their rate massively, so we simply got in a voice-alike, no one noticed.

        Some actors also put in huge rates if you want to re-use their lines in a spin off game meaning you often don’t bother, when in fact for no extra work, they could have got some more money. They are often more interested in pricing themselves out of the market than doing intelligent business.

        • mouton says:

          So they are greedy and refusing to do “intelligent business”?

          Let’s just say my approval of their strike just rose.

          • Jediben says:

            I keep my eyes on the road; off the rear view mirror and the roadkill behind me.

      • DEspresso says:

        I wonder how true that is ( relation A-List actor- film success). Robin Williams and James Earl Jones provided excellent voice acting but many many many don’t.

        Also the recognisability which I assume has some marketing appeal seems strange: Most animated movies are targeted at Preteens-Teens(+Parent) and I would be hard pressed to name a (not animated) movie of an actor those audience has seen. I think Banderas has acted in those Spy movies (lets assume they did not cast him for his mariachi portrayal) but other actors/actresses? From which movie might kids recognize C-Z Jones from?

        I read sometime ago it may be an economical game theory inspired decision: Signaling.
        In Layman terms: We believe this movie will be so successful we spend millions on voice actors to show how much we believe in it.

        Which seems unlikely but not impossible.

        This is of course all in regards to Hollywood Actor voice acting, not professional Voice Actors for whom I have high regard.

        Fortunately I have the best of both worlds, as movies here are subbed by professional voice actors so HAHA /nelson

    • Kaeoschassis says:

      Y’know, I was counting under my breath, really hoping the tired old “it’s not REALLY a hard job, why should they be payed more for it” line didn’t pop here of all places.

      Anyway, to echo what others have said, maybe the devs should get more *as well*? That’s a seperate issue, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that the voice talent shouldn’t.

      • Gothnak says:

        Even unknown voice actors get hundreds of pounds an hour, is that not well paid?

        It isn’t as if they are getting minimum wage right now.

        • MajorLag says:

          Well then, if the industry doesn’t think they’re worth it, then they can refuse to negotiate and hire non-guild voice actors. Theoretically anyone with a decent microphone and internet anywhere in the world can do it.

          • Gothnak says:

            Well, anyone can cast at home, and people often do, but you still need to record them in a studio.

            As long as the artist can get to the studio, then yes, you can use anyone. You get a few hundred recordings to go through when you ask for casting with some of the decent studios in the country, and often the best people are ones you’ve never heard of.

            Big name talent is often harder to work with too.

    • whatisvalis says:

      They get good rates because you can’t work 40 hours a week as a voice actor. And the idea that a recording session is easy is foolish – if you’re working 8 hours then forgot about doing anything the follow day.

      Working conditions in the game industry need improving for everyone.

      The bigger issue is residuals.

      • Gothnak says:

        I entirely agree with you, they do get paid good rates. In your example someone has just made near £1500 in one day, that’s a month’s pay for the minimum wage, let’s say they work 5 days a month, that’s £7500, or £90k a year… For 60 days work.

        • thedosbox says:

          More straw men.

          I don’t know of any who do so, but developers who work for minimum wage are being exploited and should be looking for another gig. The rest of your made up numbers ignore the realities of being a freelancer vs a full-time employee with benefits (e.g. health insurance in NA is expensive).

          One last hint – “effort” and “value” are different things.

          • Gothnak says:

            The numbers aren’t made up, but they don’t take account of pension pots, health insurance etc as you say.

            I wasn’t even comparing this wage to a developers wage, just a general wage.. £90k is a good wage for doing anything, i could say that is more than a firefighter, nurse, MP etc, but then you’d say that is a strawman and all of those people should get paid more.

            So ignoring the fact that everyone doing any job should get paid more, i still don’t think £90k for 60 days work is being exploited.

        • inspiredhandle says:

          £1500 a month is minimum wage? Where?

    • thedosbox says:

      Wow, so many straw men.

      The vast majority of voice actors are not name brand “hollywood talent” doing it on the side between gigs. That’s the point you’re missing.

      An hourly rate comparison with full time employees is meaningless when voice actors are not employed for weeks/months at a time.

      Should developers be treated better? Absolutely. That doesn’t mean voice actors should continue to be exploited.

    • Nahadoth says:

      Most professional voice actors aren’t “Hollywood talent” who earn “thousands of pounds for doing a few hours of work”.

      • Gothnak says:

        Ok, have you worked directly with Hollywood talent, tv talent and voice actors who haven’t done any tv or film? I have worked with all of them and even the latter get over £100 an hour. For 5 hours work, they can start getting near £1000, so yes, they can.

        They do a valuable job, but they aren’t particularly exploited for the % of work they do on a project, which is what they are arguing.

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          Cooper says:

          “Other people are more exploited than you” is not really a decent argument to respond to those fighting the exploitation they experience.

        • grimdanfango says:

          The problem is exactly what you’re demonstrating here – that a lot of the industry regards voice actors as demanding huge rates for not very much work, and contributing an insignificant amount to the overall project.

          Depending on the game in question, their contribution can bring a character to life, and importantly, can be utterly vital to their identity in sequels – the game can absolutely hinge on their performance. They carry a large professional responsibility and bring a great amount of training, practice, experience, and well, plain natural talent to those few hours.

          You express a pretty common minimum-wage attitude – that the only work of worth is grinding away at something for 40 hours+ per week. That’s not how skilled craft, especially art, should be. You *should* be paid specifically for what you bring to a project, and as it currently stands, game-industry voice actors are undervalued considering the hugely important role they play.

          That a lot of game devs tend to subscribe to that same works-in-a-supermarket attitude, and only value their own contribution based on the hours they work, rather than the expertise they bring, is on them, not on voice actors to continue accepting the same exploitation.

          • Gothnak says:

            I’m not a ‘bums on seats’ developer at all, i’m a ‘results over hours’ always have been, so i don’t agree with your point at all. I have been a Programmer, a Lead Scripter, a Lead Designer on many different projects in my time and i went in with open eyes that i get paid a decent wage for the work i do. Some of the games i have worked on have made hundreds of millions of pounds, and i have not. Have i been ‘exploited’? I don’t think i have, i think i get to do a job which is a hell of a lot more fun than millions of other people in the world and i am grateful for it. If i went into my next job asking for X% of the profits of any game i subsequently worked on i’d be laughed out the door.

            If the developers also went in and asked for a % of every game they worked on, the industry would be a fairer place, and all the investment that currently keeps it running would disappear in an instant.

          • Archonsod says:

            “You *should* be paid specifically for what you bring to a project, and as it currently stands, game-industry voice actors are undervalued considering the hugely important role they play.”

            Is it really a hugely important role though? I mean beyond the odd times they use Hollywood talent I’d be hard pressed to name any professional voice actors. It’s also one thing that’s quite easy to drop – if the voice acting is painfully bad I always have the option of turning the volume off and the subtitles on (indeed just looking through the comments on this site I get the feeling that for a significant portion of the market it’s normal to have the game volume down and a podcast or similar in the background). Can’t say the same thing about the mechanics or graphics. In fact I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in saying that when it comes to the decision of whether to buy a game or not, the soundwork doesn’t factor into that at all. Which is where I think they’re going to have their main problem; they’re asking for more money which leads to increased costs, yet on the face of it it’d be very hard to demonstrate the additional investment would directly lead to increased revenue.

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            Jekadu says:

            Voice actors also do a fair amount of mocap work these days.

        • dahools says:

          Or make their voice acting paid dlc packs. Then they can have their % of the profits relative to their value added!

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      randomclass says:

      I’ve been following talk of the sag-aftra action for awhile now, and the best article I read was by Wil Wheaton, on Why it isn’t about the money. Personally, I think that anyone that leaps instantly to the conclusion the VA’s just want more money and are trying to screw over the game studios should read that.

      • Jahandar says:

        Thanks for the link, I found myself more convinced by the second reply in the comments from a developer more that they should just drop the demand for residuals to move forward on the safety issues and higher pay rates as needed.

      • Emeraude says:

        Thanks for the link, good to have some context.

        AS much as I tend to dislike voice acting in games and would certainly enjoy it being toned down in use by a lot, there’s no way I’m not going to support this morally.

      • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

        It’s rare in any industry that strikes are about money. Workers are usually loath to go out, and union leadership moreso since they know that most strikes aren’t successful, and even those that are can still cause deep long rifts between leadership and rank-and-file or employer and employees. A strike is usually driven by issues of health, safety, autonomy, job security, or some combination of all. Money is almost always involved, for various reasons, but it’s usually representing something more than itself, or just one part of a larger grievance.

        The corollary is that employers (and any news media allies they may have) do the best they can to make strikes about money.

        • Coming Second says:

          Well summarised. Remarkable how every slew of issues a group of workers bring to the table becomes about getting a big fat raise when filtered through the media.

      • kinyajuu says:

        Thanks for the link. After reading what Wil had to say all I can say is WOW… I get the working conditions and everything else. But the residuals? Give me a break. He tries to dismiss us engineers as “techs”, never once touching on the fact that games are programmers and artists first, actors second, where in film it’s actors first, “techs” and artists second.

        Seems more to me like he’s just whining to whine. He’s pissy that his role isn’t the centerpiece of this industry. Tough shit man, we work in it, you just visit now and then. Take your damn voice acting money and stop whining about wanting more. That’s greedy and self centered.

        Boohoo your vocal chords hurt, wah. Us industry folks deal with much more pain and fatigue than some pretentious ass like Wil Wheaton will ever understand. You don’t see us bitching and moaning about our burnout and crying to the nearest authority figure. Wil and the rest of the unioned game VA’s need to grow the hell up or find a job more suited to their delicate little throats.

        You want the money, do the job, if the job isn’t worth the money, don’t do it. It’s called the free market.

        • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

          “never once touching on the fact that games are programmers and artists first, actors second, where in film it’s actors first, “techs” and artists second.”

          Actors and techs are both artists, just different kinds. Who benefits from pitting artists against each other? Is it you? Are you sure? And isn’t this kind of like saying, There’s not much baking soda in bread, so let’s not give it any place in the recipe?

          “Us industry folks deal with much more pain and fatigue than some pretentious ass like Wil Wheaton will ever understand.”

          Sounds like you should organize, then.

        • Ashabel says:

          “Boohoo your vocal chords hurt, wah. Us industry folks deal with much more pain and fatigue than some pretentious ass like Wil Wheaton will ever understand. You don’t see us bitching and moaning about our burnout and crying to the nearest authority figure. Wil and the rest of the unioned game VA’s need to grow the hell up or find a job more suited to their delicate little throats.”

          Imagine that a long project with large amounts of crunch time ends with you getting a wrist injury or a stress fatigue-related illness.

          Imagine that you now go to the hospital in order to handle those injuries.

          Imagine that the doctor you’re visiting comments on how he just doesn’t understand how a worthless layabout like you who does nothing but sit on his fat ass and mash fingers on the keyboard a couple hours a day could possibly be so sick, and that you’re probably just sick because you let your muscles atrophy out of sheer laziness. He continues to belittle you across your entire treatment, often commenting how your complaining is completely laughable and embarrassing when directed at him, the doctor who does so much hard work every day, and that your family should probably disown you for being such a pretentious twit.

          This comment is basically you being that doctor.

          • Coming Second says:

            You missed the part where the doctor finishes up by saying if it hurts your weak baby self so much, you should quit your job and find something else. Because your training was pointless bullshit and it’s impossible to have a talent or affinity towards computers, right?

    • Twirrim says:

      You should grab a look at what the conditions are *actually* like for voice actors on games. The movie/TV industry is well structured for voice actors already, because they had this exact same fight there. They get all the conditions they need to keep their voices healthy. Video Game industry tries to treat them just like it treats its developers, mostly disposable talent to burn out.

      link to

      The games companies have, according to multiple sources, been completely refusing to even discuss changing conditions; totally refusing to negotiate at all. This strike is forcing them to act like adults and actually come to the table.

      • kinyajuu says:

        The problem is production companies refuse to negotiate on residuals. Wil glossed over that for obvious reasons. SAG-AFTRA keeps adding residuals to the negotiations. If they dropped that ridiculous request they just might get the working condition changes they want.

        It’s not just about the working conditions if they are trying to toss “give us more money” on top of it. More like the working conditions are a straw man to get sympathy from the public and to get their foot in the door to try forcing residual payouts out of game production companies.

        They got so used to owning the film industry they think they can simply come over to the game industry and push their weight around. This likely won’t end they way that they want it to.

        Bottom line, if GTA 5 made billions, it doesn’t matter, the voice talent was paid for what they did, they agreed to the pay. They can easily go elsewhere to find work if they don’t like it. I’m sure there are a ton of fresh VA’s that would take their place in a heartbeat, and without all the diva crap.

  9. Someoldguy says:

    Quality scriptwriting deserves to be appropriately voiced.

    Somebody set up us the bomb.
    All your base are belong to us.
    You have no chance to survive make your time.

  10. dahools says:

    No longer the Film Actors Guild then or was that just a Southpark thing?

  11. Guzzleguts says:

    Hello…this is Clem Fandango, can you hear me?

  12. Bluestormzion says:

    Well… good.

    1) I want more text in games. These days games tend to rely on presentation, instead of being enjoyable. Most of my best game memories come from text based games who had to really, REALLY work to keep me rapt, instead of flashy setpieces and quotable moments.

    2) A worker is worth his wage. If these guys really are worth the money they want, they’ll get it. If they’re NOT, this’ll instead bring in people who are worth the current wage. Either way, the situation will move forward in a more cost/profit equal way.

    3) Do we HAVE to keep using the same guys? Do our Actors have to bleed into voice acting? I’m not saying that they CAN’T; in fact, when done with appropriate characters it’s great. Say what you will about the series, Robert Carlyle in Castlevania: Lords of Shadow was SPOT ON when moments called for drama, emotion, or even hamming it up in a couple moments where Patrick Stewart was equally hammy. Oh, and Patrick Stewart, in the same series or even as Emperor Urinal Seven in The Oldy Scroll: Badportals. But let’s give opportunity to other guys, unknowns, NEW talent… like the guy from Silent Hill 2. I remember that guy being popular, though not sure I remember why. What ever happened to that guy?

    • Bromeliad says:

      Well technically a worker is worth a lot more than his wage. That’s how businesses work. You produce plenty more than what you earn or your business would go under.

      How MUCH more that is, I’d say, is one of the big determinators of how ethical a business is.

    • jonahcutter says:

      “A worker is worth his wage. If these guys really are worth the money they want, they’ll get it.”

      This isn’t remotely true in a lot of situations. It’s a belief, an article of faith even, that doesn’t survive outside economic laboratory philosophizing. In the real world, various factors very, very often put workers in the position of being underpaid.

      • Emeraude says:

        Bromeliad put it well enough, the whole economy works on the idea that workers are overall being paid less than the value of their work.

        That’s how companies can turn a profit.

        • P.Funk says:

          “That’s how companies can turn a profit.”

          Which tacitly articulates that the profits of the company are the value of the contributions of those who do not get paid equally for their contributions.

          Welcome to capitalism, where its exploitation as a basic function of its structures, but which we’ve been taught is not exploitative because its better than being a feudal serf (which it is).

          More than 100 years ago in North America this was referred to as Wage Slavery, an attitude so widely held that it was apparently on the Republican party platform at one point. History is a grand thing.

      • kinyajuu says:

        In the free market, this includes contractor work, people will pay what they feel the work is worth. This is why contracts are drawn up pre work. If someone agrees to something now, they can’t come back later and say it was unfair. A potential worker’s level of initial desperation isn’t the problem of the hiring party. The worker needs to find their own worth and only take jobs that’ll pay what they think they are worth, if they are that good, people WILL pay it.

        • P.Funk says:

          The free market is cake. Lies.

        • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

          “In the free market, this includes contractor work, people will pay what they feel the work is worth. This is why contracts are drawn up pre work.”

          In the free market, two parties of an agreement negotiate the terms of that agreement. We sometimes also call such negotiations bargaining, and so often refer to unions as engaging in collective bargaining. That’s what they do, it’s why they exist, and there is nothing counter to the free market going on there. It’s an essential part.

          To people who don’t have a lot of experience with organized workplaces, it can seem like something different because of the “collective” part, but a worker being backed up by the collected labour power of their fellow workers is really just analogous to an employer being backed up by the power of their capital. It’s amusing how people who have such a problem with unionization never seem to have the same problem with incorporation, when they’re both just people with shared class interests pooling their power to work toward a common goal (which, for both groups, is ultimately the right to own as much of the value of a worker’s labour as possible).

          “A potential worker’s level of initial desperation isn’t the problem of the hiring party.”

          In fact, it’s much to their benefit, and often also their goal.

          • kinyajuu says:

            It’s not collective bargaining when you pull workers from their jobs just to get your way. That sir is legalized extortion.

            the practice of obtaining something, especially money, through force or threats.

            Free market means competition amongst ALL members of a field, unions mean the exact opposite of that. Unions for creative fields is as ridiculous as a cat with a slice of bread on their head. So explain to me again how extortion helps the free market. Can’t wait for the mental gymnastics used to justify a legalized tactic that’s generally considered illegal in all other cases. It’s morally reprehensible, simple as that.

          • Emeraude says:

            That sir is legalized extortion.

            If it was, then refusing to hire a worker would be just as much. Which is a weird proposition.

            The market is not free – it is never free, it is heavily regulated.

            It is heavily regulated mostly in favor of capital owners who can afford to wait until desperation brings the price of the workforce way down, can afford to “hire one-half of the working class to kill the other half” if it comes to that. They can always afford to wait because capital naturally aggregates. They are structural reasons that make the imbalance in negotiations always favor capital owners in the long run – of which they are perfectly aware.

            If its legal, it means a precedent bargain has deemed it acceptable – which is rare enough in favor of the workforce that the capital owners were given something significant in return – in this case I would wager relative peace of mind from eruptions of physical violence; giving the workforce what in the end amounts to a weak, improper negotiating power is better than having to deal with a workforce that has none, is perfectly aware of it, and is numerous and has been made desperate enough to come to extreme measures.

          • Regicider 12.4% says:

            Ah the golden days of working class unrest when factory owners hired armed guards in attempts to prevent strikes, workers got killed, factories burned to the ground with owners lynched.

    • Ashabel says:

      Why do you think that new unknown actors are somehow more willing to tolerate poor working conditions and smaller pay than other acting venues? Do you think being new and unknown automatically makes you desperate?

      Part of the reason why you don’t see many new actors in the video game industry isn’t because old guard are taking all the jobs, it’s because when choosing between a video game job and a cartoon job that actually does involve royalties, or a video game mo-cap job without a stunt coordinator and a movie one that does have one, the actor will always pick a job that is more comfortable.

      Have you noticed how Robert Carlyle has never gone back to voice another video game? Have you noticed how the same goes for Victoria Atkin, Tim Phillips and many other television and movie actors? Have you never wondered why that is?

  13. TheAngriestHobo says:

    Anyone who wants to get into voice acting and is happy to be a scab, now is your time to shine!

    • WiseGamer says:

      I was thinking the same thing! I bet I could do a better job than a good portion of the over-paid narcissists currently working in the industry, and for less money!

    • kinyajuu says:

      Cheers to that! Let’s get some new talent in the industry that’s not self centered, old-hat, film actors that tend to act like spoiled brats.

  14. Hyena Grin says:

    Good for them. As much as I love video games, the industry has been lagging well behind in terms of fair treatment of employees, and it’s been a well-known and largely ignored fact for ages.

    It’s about time. Hopefully the publishers realize that this is in their best interest and make a deal soon.

  15. Ansob says:

    Good luck to them. It’s a shame negotiations didn’t break down any earlier – I imagine Activision and EA would have been a lot more willing to come to the table if the strike threatened to delay CoD and Battlefield than they’re going to be now, now that all their big games for 2016 have gone gold. :(

  16. Don Reba says:

    Woohoo! More text-based games!

  17. a very affectionate parrot says:

    I usually support industrial action regardless of the cause but I have no empathy for those same 5 people I hear in every goddamn AAA release.
    Maybe some actually talented videogame voice actors that aren’t the same generic clean-cut white american voice will fill their shoes.
    At least I won’t hear Nolan North’s insufferable Dreamworks voice for a while.

    • P.Funk says:

      I have no respect for the sentiment that someone’s right to this or that is contingent on how much you subjectively like their work.

  18. Monggerel says:


  19. Steravel says:

    Thank god. Not that I’m unsympathetic to actors looking for better pay, but anything to curb the trend of fully voiced dialogue in video games. It’s a massive waste of resources that could go towards features I’m not just going to skip through. If this strike makes it more likely for developers to add a few more meaningful dialogue options, rather than the necessity for voice work limiting it to binary/trinary trees, I’m all for it.

    You could hire Daniel Day Lewis to read your game dialogue, and I’d still skip it. Like most people, I simply read much, much faster than it takes some actor to choke out an interminable line reading. And most voice acting in games is mediocre, which is worse than no voice acting at all in terms of actively diminishing the experience.

    Developers, this is your chance to be free of voice actors altogether! Take it! Put that money into real content instead.

  20. Koozer says:

    Why do so many people hold such contempt for voice actors in this thread? Do they think it’s an easy job not worth respect?

    • Emeraude says:

      As much as I support the strike, and have nothing against actors personally, they represent a non-insignificant spending of resources that in most cases – there are a few exceptions, and I do think in some few instances VA can do wonders for games, but in most cases – contributes into making the games I play worse by their sheer presence, disrupting the pacing, or negative influence in development (say diminished reactivity in RPGs to fulfill the fully voice-acted scope statement).

      As such, I can understand a certain negativity. Though I definitely think it’s aimed at the wrong targets.

    • Steravel says:

      I have no ill will towards professional actors of any stripe, nor the tradition of acting. I certainly don’t think it’s an easy thing to do, and anyone who does has never recorded their own voice trying to do it.

      Voice acting as a video game feature is the worst though. It frequently diminishes a game experience for me, siphons resources away from features I’d rather see developed, and forces developers to limit their dialogue systems (at least from a CRPG perspective). It’s expensive to hire top quality talent, and less than top quality talent frequently provides performances more detrimental to the game experience than no voice acting at all would have.

      Name any game you like as an example of top quality voice work, and I guarantee I probably heard a few lines of it, and skipped the rest wholesale. As a feature, I simply don’t think it’s worth the expenditure in time and money.

      • inspiredhandle says:

        The last of us…

        80-90% of what made it great was probably voice acting/motion capture.

        Agree almost completely with your argument though. I absolutely adored final fantasy 7 and despised 10 just because of voice acting. I think a good compromise is found in Icewind dale/ baldurs gate with voicing important characters and making most silent. Could be a generational taste thing though.

    • Monggerel says:

      Imagine that you wanted an acting career
      and now your mouth flaps are used for Marcux Fenux

      The horror

  21. RichUncleSkeleton says:

    If Wil Wheaton and Jennifer Hale never again grace a video game with their unremarkable voices, the industry will be no poorer. Even a genuine talent like Troy Baker is completely replaceable. This strike won’t go anywhere. Companies could just hire random people from the internet to record voice-acting over Skype and you wouldn’t notice the difference. Screaming “FIRE IN THE HOLE!!! FUCK!!! SANCHEZ IS DOWN!!! MEDIC!!” does not require Julliard training. Sorry.

    • Steravel says:

      Companies could just hire random people from the internet to record voice-acting over Skype and you wouldn’t notice the difference.

      The cringe-inducing voice acting present in many player made mods should expose how completely wrong that notion is.

      I’m anti-VA myself, at least for most games. But if you’re inclined to listen to VA at all (I’m not), you definitely want a quality actor delivering those lines. Budget VA is always worse and more grating than a complete lack of voice work would have been.

      Text dialogue is always delivered perfectly in my imagination, and at a fraction of the time.

    • Premium User Badge

      Jekadu says:

      I find that it is usually very obvious when amateurs are used instead of professionals. A professional will sound good even with poor direction; an amateur will just sound unconvincing.

  22. S Jay says:

    Stunt coordinators for voice actors?

    • Scandalon says:

      The fact that is in there is one the things telling you it’s needed. It’s not something anyone would ever think of, until someone showed up to do some lines and was told “now, say this while jumping against the wall (we padded with old gym mats) and really emphasize the *ooof*.

  23. Scandalon says:

    It’s been posted already, but I’m going to post it again – really everyone should go read link to

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