Video Game Voice Actors Consider Striking

Video game voice actors who belong to SAG-AFTRA are considering a strike to get better back-end bonuses from their work on games that go on to sell in large numbers (thanks VG247). There is a lot of activity right now on Twitter using the hashtags #PerformanceMatters and #iAmOnBoard2015, where, for example, Wil Wheaton, says: "I love voice acting in video games, but our employers don't seem to think #PerformanceMatters, so I voted YES to strike. #iamonboard2015." There's more on the topic on the SAG-AFTRA website, where they note that negotiations have been underway since the beginning of the year, and say they are at a "crossroads" after a meeting on June 23rd that did not result in an agreement. Here's a bit:
As you might know, the Interactive Media Agreement was first negotiated by SAG and AFTRA in the mid-1990s, and this agreement is still the template we use today despite radical changes in what we are required to do on set and in the recording studio. We’re looking to bring this long-standing agreement into the 21st Century by addressing the following issues, which were arrived at after extensive one-on-one, small group and big meeting interactions and discussions with members like you.

Please read What We Stand For and What We Stand to Lose and make sure to navigate to the Get Involved section of the website to sign up for our mailing list. We’ll be using the list to stay in contact with members like you and let you know how you can help.
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62 Replies. 4 pages. Viewing page 1.
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62.
 
Re: Video Game Voice Actors Consider Striking
Sep 25, 2015, 12:34
62.
Re: Video Game Voice Actors Consider Striking Sep 25, 2015, 12:34
Sep 25, 2015, 12:34
 
Make it stop!
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61.
 
Re: Video Game Voice Actors Consider Striking
Sep 24, 2015, 18:39
61.
Re: Video Game Voice Actors Consider Striking Sep 24, 2015, 18:39
Sep 24, 2015, 18:39
 
Slashman wrote on Sep 24, 2015, 17:53:
deqer wrote on Sep 24, 2015, 12:53:
Those voice audio files are saved and re-used millions of times. Every time that any one plays the game. That's a lot of use for the little $ that the company paid for it.

How is that different or more significant than the guy who built the UI for the game? Shouldn't he be getting those royalties as well?

The difference is not as simple to explain, but I'll give it a shot...

More often than not, VAs are sub-contracted from an outside resource that pays them specifically for sessions, not salary/hourly/etc. Those that work within a company, be it direct sub-contractors (see: freelance, etc) or actual employees are generally give either full commission or living wages.
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60.
 
Re: Video Game Voice Actors Consider Striking
Sep 24, 2015, 17:53
60.
Re: Video Game Voice Actors Consider Striking Sep 24, 2015, 17:53
Sep 24, 2015, 17:53
 
deqer wrote on Sep 24, 2015, 12:53:
Those voice audio files are saved and re-used millions of times. Every time that any one plays the game. That's a lot of use for the little $ that the company paid for it.

How is that different or more significant than the guy who built the UI for the game? Shouldn't he be getting those royalties as well?
59.
 
Re: Video Game Voice Actors Consider Striking
Sep 24, 2015, 12:53
59.
Re: Video Game Voice Actors Consider Striking Sep 24, 2015, 12:53
Sep 24, 2015, 12:53
 
Those voice audio files are saved and re-used millions of times. Every time that any one plays the game. That's a lot of use for the little $ that the company paid for it.
58.
 
Re: Video Game Voice Actors Consider Striking
Sep 24, 2015, 09:22
58.
Re: Video Game Voice Actors Consider Striking Sep 24, 2015, 09:22
Sep 24, 2015, 09:22
 
Slashman wrote on Sep 24, 2015, 08:54:
hello newman wrote on Sep 24, 2015, 05:23:
performing is also an art.
without the actors' voice and style for example Thiefs' Garret would not be Garret.
Just choose your favorite character with a voice in a video game and turn the sound off for a bit.
Or better yet just try to record yourself 5 minutes of voice-over for a game you play and listen to yourself afterwards.



Yes but are they doing more than the programming guy creating the framework for the game in the first place?

Games are a slightly different kettle of fish than a stage play or TV series. Lots of people put in more time and effort than voice actors. And honestly, games can be perfectly fine without voice overs. Great, in fact. Not so much without programmers.

Sure they may be some games that are based around the voice actor. Bastion is a great example in terms of the narrator. Not sure it should be a hard and fast rule that they get royalties across the board though.

Exactly this. In that respect all the members of the development team who are responsible for the creation of the character, from the writers, to the 3d modelers, animation artists, texture artists etc. should get the same benefits.

As for TV movie Actors, yeah they are in a way 'creating' a character. But in no way are these voice actors contributing anywhere in the same league, not nearly as much as the writers, animators, programmers...etc. etc. etc..
I have a nifty blue line!
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57.
 
Re: Video Game Voice Actors Consider Striking
Sep 24, 2015, 08:54
57.
Re: Video Game Voice Actors Consider Striking Sep 24, 2015, 08:54
Sep 24, 2015, 08:54
 
hello newman wrote on Sep 24, 2015, 05:23:
performing is also an art.
without the actors' voice and style for example Thiefs' Garret would not be Garret.
Just choose your favorite character with a voice in a video game and turn the sound off for a bit.
Or better yet just try to record yourself 5 minutes of voice-over for a game you play and listen to yourself afterwards.


Yes but are they doing more than the programming guy creating the framework for the game in the first place?

Games are a slightly different kettle of fish than a stage play or TV series. Lots of people put in more time and effort than voice actors. And honestly, games can be perfectly fine without voice overs. Great, in fact. Not so much without programmers.

Sure they may be some games that are based around the voice actor. Bastion is a great example in terms of the narrator. Not sure it should be a hard and fast rule that they get royalties across the board though.
56.
 
Re: Video Game Voice Actors Consider Striking
Sep 24, 2015, 08:51
56.
Re: Video Game Voice Actors Consider Striking Sep 24, 2015, 08:51
Sep 24, 2015, 08:51
 
InBlack wrote on Sep 24, 2015, 02:43:
Do movie and TV actors get paid residuals? I mean if its not in their contract?

Creating ART (any kind of art) is one thing. You leave behind a legacy. If it sells, more power to you. But simply performing what someone else wrote....why the fuck would you get paid for eternity for that?

By that reasoning, why would actors get paid? They're just "performing what someone else wrote."

And yes, they get paid residuals, because it IS in their contracts, because they went on strike to get that in their contracts. The same as what the VAs are considering.

This comment was edited on Sep 24, 2015, 08:56.
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55.
 
Re: Video Game Voice Actors Consider Striking
Sep 24, 2015, 05:23
55.
Re: Video Game Voice Actors Consider Striking Sep 24, 2015, 05:23
Sep 24, 2015, 05:23
 
InBlack wrote on Sep 24, 2015, 02:43:
...

Creating ART (any kind of art) is one thing. You leave behind a legacy. If it sells, more power to you. But simply performing what someone else wrote....why the fuck would you get paid for eternity for that?

performing is also an art.
without the actors' voice and style for example Thiefs' Garret would not be Garret.
Just choose your favorite character with a voice in a video game and turn the sound off for a bit.
Or better yet just try to record yourself 5 minutes of voice-over for a game you play and listen to yourself afterwards.

Avatar 57188
54.
 
Re: Video Game Voice Actors Consider Striking
Sep 24, 2015, 03:04
54.
Re: Video Game Voice Actors Consider Striking Sep 24, 2015, 03:04
Sep 24, 2015, 03:04
 
The Half Elf wrote on Sep 23, 2015, 23:22:
Are you serious? The ONLY decent voice work done in STO is by Worf, Tuvok and Leeta. Whoever was the voice coach and writer for the rest of the Trek cast needs to be shot and fired. It is CRINGE WORTHY.

I mentioned Kurland by name. Kurland here! Absolutely awful. Still, the point stands, he can't (terribly) reprise his role.
53.
 
Re: Video Game Voice Actors Consider Striking
Sep 24, 2015, 02:43
53.
Re: Video Game Voice Actors Consider Striking Sep 24, 2015, 02:43
Sep 24, 2015, 02:43
 
Do movie and TV actors get paid residuals? I mean if its not in their contract?

Creating ART (any kind of art) is one thing. You leave behind a legacy. If it sells, more power to you. But simply performing what someone else wrote....why the fuck would you get paid for eternity for that?
I have a nifty blue line!
Avatar 46994
52.
 
Re: Video Game Voice Actors Consider Striking
Sep 24, 2015, 01:54
52.
Re: Video Game Voice Actors Consider Striking Sep 24, 2015, 01:54
Sep 24, 2015, 01:54
 
Did anyone else actually check their web site? They're not talking about getting percentage points of all sales forever...

We’re asking for a reasonable performance bonus for every 2 million copies, or downloads sold, or 2 million unique subscribers to online-only games, with a cap at 8 million units/ subscribers. That shakes out, potentially, to FOUR bonus payments for the most successful games: 2 million, 4 million, 6 million and 8 million copies.

It’s a simple approach to secondary payments, and it’ll net you up to four extra union scale payments for your performance (currently $3300.00).

So you get $3300 for doing the work right now, at least if you're a regular Joe not negotiating your own contracts. If it sells 2 million you get another $3300, etc., up to a total of $16500 if the game sells more than 8 million copies. That's hardly outrageous. They're not insisting every voice actor contributing to a game gets 0.5% of all profits or something...
51.
 
Re: Video Game Voice Actors Consider Striking
Sep 23, 2015, 23:22
51.
Re: Video Game Voice Actors Consider Striking Sep 23, 2015, 23:22
Sep 23, 2015, 23:22
 
NewMaxx wrote on Sep 23, 2015, 18:08:
Kosumo wrote on Sep 23, 2015, 18:02:
From a gamer point of view - I'm against it due to it then making the deep discounting of games less likely if they have to pay redudals (a cut) on every copy sold.

Allow me to offer a recent, real world example of what happens with things like this.

I'm an avid Star Trek Online player and I know many people here also enjoy the game. In the past we've enjoyed voice work done by many of the original Star Trek actors but we also had random people and game staff doing lesser voices for the game. The most notable example is, of course, Kurland, but there are many others.

Well STO's parent company, Perfect World Entertainment, has decided to go with SAG. This makes it impossible for Kurland's voice actor to reprise his role. It also raises the general rate (cost) for voice actor work, reducing the amount of star voice actors returning to reprise their roles. The game community has of course not responded positively to this and it has had at least some impact on the game.

I'm not pushing this forward as an argument in one direction or another but rather pointing out what this may mean for less popular games and the industry as a whole.

Are you serious? The ONLY decent voice work done in STO is by Worf, Tuvok and Leeta. Whoever was the voice coach and writer for the rest of the Trek cast needs to be shot and fired. It is CRINGE WORTHY.
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50.
 
Re: Video Game Voice Actors Consider Striking
Sep 23, 2015, 21:18
50.
Re: Video Game Voice Actors Consider Striking Sep 23, 2015, 21:18
Sep 23, 2015, 21:18
 
Kosumo wrote on Sep 23, 2015, 18:02:
To turn this round, should publishers get a cut of the money that some actors make from attending 'cons' and paid for signings?

Why would they? It's a mutually beneficial experience for both sides. Both the actor and product get exposure with the actor having the bonus opportunity to establish further industry contacts and potential work.

While the royalty thing is definitely contentious I don't see an issue with a group of marginalized employees / contractors negotiating a better deal and they'll definitely get a better deal through a union or some other form of collective bargaining than they will individually.

They're also pretty clear in their statement that they're only looking for residuals once a product sells more than 2 million copies. For the most part that only affects the bigger players in the industry who, I think, can afford to pay more than the minimum (EA / Ubi / Acti-Blizz etc.)

Maybe this should be a wake up call to the industry as a whole that the traditional - if you don't like it we can replace you like that *snaps fingers* - response is bullshit (even if naive kids fresh out of school are still willing to be exploited so they can tell their friends they work in the gaAAaaamess industry).

Who knows, maybe both sides will manage to reach a reasonable compromise.
49.
 
Re: Video Game Voice Actors Consider Striking
Sep 23, 2015, 18:08
49.
Re: Video Game Voice Actors Consider Striking Sep 23, 2015, 18:08
Sep 23, 2015, 18:08
 
Kosumo wrote on Sep 23, 2015, 18:02:
From a gamer point of view - I'm against it due to it then making the deep discounting of games less likely if they have to pay redudals (a cut) on every copy sold.

Allow me to offer a recent, real world example of what happens with things like this.

I'm an avid Star Trek Online player and I know many people here also enjoy the game. In the past we've enjoyed voice work done by many of the original Star Trek actors but we also had random people and game staff doing lesser voices for the game. The most notable example is, of course, Kurland, but there are many others.

Well STO's parent company, Perfect World Entertainment, has decided to go with SAG. This makes it impossible for Kurland's voice actor to reprise his role. It also raises the general rate (cost) for voice actor work, reducing the amount of star voice actors returning to reprise their roles. The game community has of course not responded positively to this and it has had at least some impact on the game.

I'm not pushing this forward as an argument in one direction or another but rather pointing out what this may mean for less popular games and the industry as a whole.
48.
 
Re: Video Game Voice Actors Consider Striking
Sep 23, 2015, 18:02
48.
Re: Video Game Voice Actors Consider Striking Sep 23, 2015, 18:02
Sep 23, 2015, 18:02
 
From a gamer point of view - I'm against it due to it then making the deep discounting of games less likely if they have to pay redudals (a cut) on every copy sold.

This issuie (their pay) should be handled at the front end, not the back end.

As someone pointed out - good voice acting is great to have in a game, but to me it does not sell the game, the gameplay is what sells games.

To turn this round, should publishers get a cut of the money that some actors make from attending 'cons' and paid for signings? After all, if Jake Loydd was not in the Star Wars movie, who would want to see him? (who does anyway?)

I work as a freelance camera man - I've film things for over 20 years, I've seen my work be reused in advertisments, years later. I was paid up front and I knew it did not matter now many people see it, I was paid the same. (I've also produced radio adverts and worked with voice actors)
47.
 
Re: Video Game Voice Actors Consider Striking
Sep 23, 2015, 17:31
47.
Re: Video Game Voice Actors Consider Striking Sep 23, 2015, 17:31
Sep 23, 2015, 17:31
 
The problem I have with the whole idea, at least from the standpoint of the gaming industry, is that you have so many jobs that are really in a deplorable state. Programmers, artists, writers, even musicians have terrible hours and a ridiculous turnover rate. I used to work in the industry and maintain friends still in it and they all say the same thing. Yet you end up getting unions not with the vital components of the industry but with the ones that are peripheral at best. Essentially what I'm saying is that I'm not against the idea of unions in the industry so much as against the fact they're always misapplied.

Anyone who has worked in programming will tell you just how overworked they are, and how they are treated as fungible assets to be dispensed of once work is complete. The demands on a programmer are often vague and may expand to cover other areas. That is pretty much the definition of stress in the workplace. Voice actors come in after the script is ready, read off the lines on a schedule, and go home. Certainly that makes it easier to form a union but that's also the job least requiring it; it is this irony, or contradiction if you prefer, that makes this so absurd. It's like giving guns to the militia before the army.

That's not even getting into matters of corruption and rampant patronage. Just read about the old guild systems found in late Medieval and Renaissance Italian city-states and you will see why the arts today cling so tightly to unions, and also how they really work.

This comment was edited on Sep 23, 2015, 17:37.
46.
 
Re: Video Game Voice Actors Consider Striking
Sep 23, 2015, 17:29
46.
Re: Video Game Voice Actors Consider Striking Sep 23, 2015, 17:29
Sep 23, 2015, 17:29
 
Cutter wrote on Sep 23, 2015, 17:17:
I've used the analogy before because it holds true. Just look around you and imagine if you had to pay someone anytime you used something. Sip of coffee? Pay the guy who made the mug, the company that shipped it, the store that bought it, the clerk who stocked it, the cashier who took your money, the people who made the bag it was put in, etc. Now apply that mentality to literally everything else and you see how insane it is. Yet, simply because one judge once ruled that certain kinds of work mean you should get paid repeatedly for only working once is the definition of insanity. And that's not even getting into the bullshit mess of IP, copyright, etc. and that stuff is all beyond fucked up now as well.

And again, there is no such thing as original work anyway. All of it's derivative. When you create a new song you're only moving around things that already exist and were created by other people anyway and the influences of those people directly influence your work. So no, you don't deserve any special protections. There really is nothing new under the sun. It's all connected and is based on what came before it.

Investors do this all the time with people and their products, they love having percentages on every piece of product sold. Hell, watching shows like Shark Tank can educate you on the business of residuals and what-not.

So here's the thing Cutter...if you, say, painted a picture and sold off the rights to print it (or authored a book and sold redistribution rights, whatever), you wouldn't feel like you should get some cut of each unit produced of your work?

If you think these people are getting more than a few cents on the dollar for every unit sold, you really need to understand how that payment setup works.
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45.
 
Re: Video Game Voice Actors Consider Striking
Sep 23, 2015, 17:25
45.
Re: Video Game Voice Actors Consider Striking Sep 23, 2015, 17:25
Sep 23, 2015, 17:25
 
As someone who has done voice acting in a lower-key environment and have worked with a couple of the bigger names, the pay is nowhere near a living wage. More often than not, VAs are treated almost like food servers in that they are paid little upfront and work off mostly tips (see: residuals) and do so at alarming numbers of jobs.

Folks like Nolan North or Jennifer Hale are standouts, but I can guarantee you they are not making what I assume people to think amounts to a 6 digit income, most actually work off around $35-40k. Now I know most of you are like "that's still a lot of money", but therein lies a problem, to work in this industry you have to be where the industry needs you (see: California, New York, etc), and I can guarantee you that the cost of living in these areas cannot be supported for that income. Hell, when I lived in the Bay Area making $96k annually I was still barely making ends meet in a 650 sqft condo.

There are many VAs out there that are synonymous with their characters, Nolan North is Nathan Drake, Jennifer Hale is FemShep, and so on and so forth...they pour a lot of their skill and ability into these characters in no less way than a film or music 'star' do in their work, and sometimes they put in more work and effort...

And if there is anyone out there that thinks that VA work is simple and anyone with the basics of theater can do it, I urge you to try it yourself.
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44.
 
Re: Video Game Voice Actors Consider Striking
Sep 23, 2015, 17:17
Cutter
 
44.
Re: Video Game Voice Actors Consider Striking Sep 23, 2015, 17:17
Sep 23, 2015, 17:17
 Cutter
 
I've used the analogy before because it holds true. Just look around you and imagine if you had to pay someone anytime you used something. Sip of coffee? Pay the guy who made the mug, the company that shipped it, the store that bought it, the clerk who stocked it, the cashier who took your money, the people who made the bag it was put in, etc. Now apply that mentality to literally everything else and you see how insane it is. Yet, simply because one judge once ruled that certain kinds of work mean you should get paid repeatedly for only working once is the definition of insanity. And that's not even getting into the bullshit mess of IP, copyright, etc. and that stuff is all beyond fucked up now as well.

And again, there is no such thing as original work anyway. All of it's derivative. When you create a new song you're only moving around things that already exist and were created by other people anyway and the influences of those people directly influence your work. So no, you don't deserve any special protections. There really is nothing new under the sun. It's all connected and is based on what came before it.
"I didn't know you had it in you. Sorry, poor choice of words." - David
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43.
 
Re: Video Game Voice Actors Consider Striking
Sep 23, 2015, 17:11
43.
Re: Video Game Voice Actors Consider Striking Sep 23, 2015, 17:11
Sep 23, 2015, 17:11
 
jdreyer wrote on Sep 23, 2015, 13:56:
Don't forget about Ellen McClain and Jennifer Hale!

Jennifer Hale already supports it.
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