Friday, April 12, 2024

SAG-AFTRA Ends Video Game Voice Actors Strike

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After over a year, our favorite voice actors can get back to their jobs and hopefully with improved conditions.

The strike began in October of 2016, with the actors in question seeking improved pay and conditions. Sought through the strike were residual payments for sales of the games they performed for. Unlike other media such as TV or movies, video game voice actors receive no such payments. They also asked for improved consideration of the strain of voice acting in gaming, with sessions often lasting much longer than seen in other entertainment mediums and has led to severe damage to actors’ vocal cords. Actors also fought for greater transparency of the roles they voiced. Video game actors often record for roles without any knowledge going into recording.

Remember that next time you wonder why a voice actor sounds so terrible in a game. Though thanks to this agreement, you should hear less Yunas in your games.

Besides new transparency and safety considerations, the two sides agreed to a new bonus pay structure based on the number of sessions a voice actor works. While not the residual system desired, the two sides found agreement and hopefully a basis upon which to build later.

The new transparency rules require hiring companies to disclose information about the project and its content, so voice actors know what they are walking into. They must also be told if they will use unusual terminology, profanity or racial slurs, whether there will be content of a sexual or violent nature and whether stunts will be required. I was hoping to read that they’d get more information about the characters they voice, but I guess the issue will remain for future negotiations.

Video game voice actors are often unsung heroes of games that can make a vast difference in the quality of a game’s story. Without voice acting, Metal Gear Solid might not have risen past its weirder plot tendencies. You wouldn’t remember Half-Life or Mass Effect quite as fondly. I hope one day voice actors can get everything they deserve for their work.


Image courtesy of SAG-AFTRA

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