Several weeks ago, the voice actors’ union SAG-AFTRA initiated a vote to go on strike. A minimum of 75% of the members had to vote in favor by October 5th in order for the strike to be possible. An overwhelming 96.52% of members voted in favor of the strike, giving SAG-AFTRA’s National Board the ability to declare a strike if an acceptable agreement with major publishers cannot be obtained soon.
SAG-AFTRA’s membership roster includes many famous voice actors, such as Jennifer Hale, Tara Strong, Wil Wheaton, Ashly Burch, and Elias Toufexis. According to the website, nearly 100% of top-selling games from the past two years used union actors. Their demands don’t sound at all unreasonable, either. You can read the full document on SAG-AFTRA’s website, but in short, here’s what they’re asking for:
- Royalties for games that sell over 2 million copies, that is, enough to turn a profit, and for each 2 million increment (4 million copies, 6 million, etc). Currently voice actors do not get royalties if a game does well.
- Stunt pay when recording sessions are vocally stressful and limitations on how long such sessions can go.
- Stunt coordinators on hand for motion capture sessions that may require difficult or dangerous physical activity.
- Transparency. Often, voice actors are not even told the title of the game they will be acting for, their role in the game, or the rating of the game. SAG-AFTRA points to TV and film actors, who are told all this and more, and asks for more disclosure so that actors know what they are getting into.
Though a strike is not yet officially taking place, one may occur if an agreement cannot be reached. Hopefully the publishers are listening, and it does not come to that. The demands listed are not unreasonable ones, nor are they outside the power of those to whom they would apply. A greater respect for the talent and safety of those actors will help them continue bettering their art for a long time to come, and feel secure while doing so.
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