Yes my opinion in is flux, because I continue to do research on the issue. There's a word for people who hard-line on one position regardless of what new information or facts come to light.
"... which sounds like a lot until you realize these people are living in expensive markets like SoCal, Seattle, or Austin."
Where do you think the programmers, artists, game designers and testers live?
I've been posting sources, such as this one - SAG Strike Bad Idea
The game companies effectively agreed to everything except the residuals, they even agreed to raise the base rate significantly (can't find reference, something like 9%). SAG failed to show this agreement to any of its members before calling for a strike. Game companies made an offer, SAG decided to call for a strike anyways without even letting its members know about it. If that's not true then SAG should come forward and explain what really happened.
Source: Companies take aim at SAG
Source: Video Game Strike: Companies Cry Foul
The strike is *purely* about residuals, and the health and safety concerns are just a smoke screen to draw public sympathy.
I appreciate you pulling real statistics into the conversation. If you actually look at the rest of that page though you'll see that $30k is the median *nationally* for general voice actors. If you look in California where the majority of video game VAs are, the median is $54,640 - about half of what I estimated, which sounds about right for a median. Yea, someone in Arkansas doing VA for the local auto body shop's commercial isn't making much. That guy isn't on strike right now.
If a VA is making $30k they are working 1/4th as much as they could be. That is a fact. Talk to any other contracted profession and they would identify that instantly as well. If they can't find enough work, or it takes too much time to do so, they should hire an agent.
I'm sorry if they don't make six figures, but they're working part-time. They have free time they can spend on other things, like protesting. Shit, look at Will Wheaton's blog, that guy is on vacation most of his life (strawman, I know). Show me a game developer who travels to five/six countries a year for pleasure? It's not a lucrative industry, why should it be lucrative for VAs?
There's nothing to indicate that those stats are even collected from full time VAs, or even from SAG members. My impression, based on the stats I can see, is that most VAs are not working full time. I don't think that part-time work should come with a full-time salary + additional bonuses (residuals).
I just don't understand all the sympathy for VAs here. They have a sweet gig. No, it's not easy. Yes it is real work. But they *chose* to work as VAs and they *chose* to work in video games. Please, think back everyone, to before VA was big in video games - this is the same group of people that lobbied congress to censor video games and label them as non-art media. It was only once the actors started making money in video games that they changed their tune.
They are hard lining the mandatory residuals for all VAs issue because it will make them a lot of money. There are other alternatives (see gravy for brain link above) and there are other structures that wouldn't be so obnoxious. For example, they could agree to receive the proportional and comparable residuals to the other game developers on the project. That number would be currently be $0, and then VAs and the game devs could work together to get everyone residuals.
If it isn't clear why mandatory fixed rate residuals don't fit with the game industry model - consider this - if I make a free to play game, and I use a voice actor, and I get 8 million downloads before making any money (very common) - who pays for the residual? If I want to have a free weekend for my game, and it blows up, I now am paying residuals without having made any money. What about steam sales, what about a humble bundle where the creator may be getting pennies per copy? What about a game that's re-released on a new platform? What if a developer wants to give their old games away for free? Well, fuck the developers, they don't do anything to make games.
The argument that "there's so much money, they should get some!" sounds insane to me, because that "so much money" is what pays everyone else in the industry. Those profits don't just go to CEO bonuses, they go to marketing firms, they go to publishers, they go to fund new games, to hire new staff, pay for servers, pay for patches, and to invest in new hardware and software to push the envelope even further. I agree CEOs shouldn't get as much of that, that's why I don't work for EA. Personal responsibility man. Personal accountability. That's the glue that keeps the industry together. You can see when it fails.
For example, at the company I work at currently the CEOs bonuses are based on user growth and employee satisfaction. Explain to me how these residuals will be coming out of his bonuses? Why games are so expensive
As it is the VAs are making public statements like "We are the creative energy in video games" and "Video games would be nothing without us", "Programmers are drones who just do what they are told, they bring no creativity to the product" It sounds like they're trying to antagonize me and everyone in my industry. I know they don't speak for SAG, but they do come off as arrogant, entitled pricks. So yea, fuck them. Sorry Video Games don't pay as well as other industries, that is case for *everyone* - even the CEOs. No one else deals with it by fucking up everyone's production schedules. You find a new job.
Ok, fair enough, most games do not sell 8 million copies, but a many do - Best Selling Video Games
Looking at how many voice actors are in GTAV, I can't even guess how many hours of VA work there is in there... but you're talking a lot more than a few hundred thousand dollars in residuals. Yea, rockstar made a lot of money on GTAV - take a look at how long that money needs to last them though.
"0.01% of game industry employees who contribute 0.001% of the man hour" You say I made this up - you've realized by now that I work in the industry right? Almost a decade. I tried to find a source, but I recall that Doom 3 logged a million man hours of development time, at 0.001% I estimated 10 hours for one VA. Two sessions? Maybe it's more than that, but is 0.002% or 0.003% contribution the point where they should get 0.0002% (projected $10M @ 2M sales) of the profits when they took no risk, opportunity or fiscal? Investors don't get that return rate man, and they put money in. Please do some research before you discredit these numbers.
The industry is far more complicated and nuanced than anyone seemingly wants to consider when discussing this topic. I guess I get it, most people don't have a horse in this race so it's easier to side with the people asking for more money than the people witholding it from them. It seems like a lot of folks like to think that this is a SAG vs EA thing. It's not, this affects every game studio in the US that uses voice acting. Big and small. So whenever you think about SAG fighting to take bonuses from some EA fat cat, also consider SAG fighting to take rent money from an indie developer.
If you think SAG can get their residuals, and it won't result in more studio shut downs... I think you need to do some research on the history of the game industry. I'm sorry, but I'd rather see hundreds of people keep their jobs than a few dozen people make a little more money.
And if one more ignorant person tells me game devs should "just form a Union" and stop being jealous...
Since no one will probably read this days old comment thread... I do have a plan to stop being jealous of VAs. I am, for sure jealous, who wouldn't be? You know how much gaming you could do w/ a 15 hour work week? I'm going to start doing voice acting, w/ the strike right now there are a lot of openings
Then I can use my VA money to self-fund game projects and actually create something new for the world instead of just demanding money someone else earned.