Video Game Voice Actors & Stunt Performers Go On Strike

Wil Wheaton is one of the many SAG-AFTRA Video Game voice actors currently on strike. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

The relationship between professional unionized Video Game voice, stunt and motion capture actors and the companies that employ them hasn’t exactly been the best as of late; every time Video Game voice actors reach the news, it’s normally about how terrible their working conditions are.

Now, Video Game voice actors and stuntmen a part of the SAG-AFTRA have gone on strike after almost two years of negotiations, with SAG-AFTRA issuing a statement announcing the strike. SAG-AFTRA Chief Contracts Officer Ray Rodriguez spoke in the statement, saying:

“SAG-AFTRA has gone to the negotiations table with serious concerns affecting voiceover and stunt performers. It’s time for video game employers to take our concerns seriously and negotiate a modern contract based on actor safety, industry precedent and best practices.”

You can read SAG-AFTRA’s full statement below. Effective October 21, 2016, SAG-AFTRA is striking the following Video Game employers with regard to all games that went into production after Feb. 17, 2015:

  • 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. and
  • WB Games, Inc.
Jennifer Hale is one of the many SAG-AFTRA Video Game voice actors who has gone on strike. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Keythe Farley, a voice actor, casting director, and voice director who chairs SAG-AFTRA’s Interactive Committee, also spoke about the voice actor strike, saying:

“SAG-AFTRA doesn’t want to strike, who does? But we cannot stand by and watch our members suffer serious injury and put their careers at risk in the current environment. The time is now for a new contract for our members.”

SAG-AFTRA says that its package of proposals is “not loaded with any crazy demands.” Several prominent voice actors have spoken out in support of authorizing a strike, including Roger Craig Smith (Batman, Assassin’s Creed), Jennifer Hale (Mass Effect, Guild Wars), and actor Wil Wheaton. According to Deadline, only about 25 percent of video games use union voice actors. This is the first strike in the history of video game performers.

Scott Wiltin, chief negotiator for the publishers, issued a statement in regards to the strike, saying:

“The Video Game Companies did everything in their power to reach agreement with union leaders, offering a money package almost identical to SAG-AFTRA’s last demand. We are greatly disappointed that SAG-AFTRA refuses to allow its members to have a democratic vote on our proposal and decide if the significant money on the table is acceptable to them. The strike is going to hurt the SAG-AFTRA performers that these Companies value.
“The strike will have little to no immediate impact on the ability of fans to buy and play the video games they love as the majority of upcoming games already are in production — and the union is not permitted to strike most of the games due to the nature of the ‘No Strike Provisions’ of the interactive media agreement. The sad part is that the very performers who these Companies value — and who are impacted by the union decision to strike — never got a chance to vote on the Companies’ proposal.”

The final offer from the video game industry was an immediate 9 percent wage hike and “additional compensation” of up to $950 per game depending on the number of sessions a performer worked on a game. Wiltin continued by adding:

“We value our performers and their dedication. Many of the Companies and people on our committee are the best evangelists for the use of SAG-AFTRA members in this industry. It is unfortunate that SAG-AFTRA rushed into a strike that will immediately and directly take money out of their members’ pockets.”

Luke Luby is a Journalist and Award Nominated Digital Marketing Specialist based in Cork City, Ireland. You can find him on Facebook and Twitter. Luke is available for Freelance Opportunities. You can also find Video Game Crunch on Facebook and Twitter.

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