Video Games Could Be A Lot Quieter If Voice Actors Go On Strike

Image courtesy of Christinejwarner

Along with intense graphics and dramatic sound effects, the human voices of video game characters are vital to the gaming experience. But the voices behind some many popular video game titles may soon fall silent as they prepare to go on strike if their union’s demands aren’t met soon.

The Screen Actors Guild‐American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) is planning to target 11 major video game publishers by going on strike starting Oct. 21 with its 150,000 active members — including film, TV, radio, and video games actors, Ars Technica reports.

A year ago, SAG-AFTRA publicly floated the idea of a strike after the 2014 expiration of a contract with several publishers, including EA Games, Activision, Disney, Take Two, Insomniac, and Warner Bros.

The union — which approved the strike last year by about 96% — wants things like royalty payments for voiceover actors in games that sell two million copies, and stunt pay for recording sessions that prove to be “vocally stressful.”

If the strike goes forward, union members won’t be able to sign up for voice, motion-capture, and background work on games with any of the affected companies.

“The videogame employers we are striking continue to operate under the terms of an agreement structured more than twenty years ago for an industry that was only beginning to utilize professional performances,” the union says in a statement regarding the strike. “Since then, games have evolved to provide increasingly immersive and cinematic experiences that compete with television and theatrical motion pictures for consumer dollars. It is time for this now mature industry to pay and treat professional performers according to the standards and precedents that our union has established and defended for generations.”

The gaming companies in question got together to deliver a collective response, saying they’re “deeply disappointed” by the threat of a strike, but are prepared to hunker down.

“We consider the Union’s threatened labor action to call a strike precipitous, unnecessary and an action that will only harm their membership,” the statement reads. “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.”

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