Video game voice actors considering strike action

SAG-AFTRA logo, Source: Siegel + Gale

Voice actors belonging to a union called The Screen Actors Guild - American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), are considering holding a strike over pay and conditions. The deadline for voting is October 5th and requires 75% of supporting votes for the strike to go ahead.

The union particularly wants to bring attention to what it calls voice stress, which according to Wil Wheaton who voted for the strike, is like reading a book for six or seven hours and then trying to audition later in the week, you can't "because your voice is wrecked."

SAG-AFTRA say that voice stress is encouraged by continually shouting, something common in games. For this reason the union proposes actors receive stunt pay for vocally stressful recording sessions and for such sessions to be restricted to two hours at a time. If a game sells more than two million copies the union wants the voice actors to be paid further with "performance bonuses".

As anyone who has searched for a job knows, details of what you'll be doing can sometimes be scarce. The same is true for voice actors. SAG-AFTRA are trying to push game producers to give out more information to voice actors about the sort of work they'll be doing. Wheaton defends this decision saying "Asking us to go into something with absolutely zero knowledge about the project, or what we'll be expected to do if we are cast, is completely unreasonable".

Taking strike action is usually a contentious issue, especially on Twitter where people cuss at how "greedy" so-and-so are. Similarly Wil Wheaton received comment over his support for the strike which prompted his lengthy blog post.

Wil Wheaton has provided voice-overs in various games including multiple from the Grand Theft Auto franchise. Rockstar North LTD, the primary developers of the GTA games reported increased profits at the end of last year. The strike vote has spawned supporting hashtags: #PerformanceMatters and #iAmOnBoard2015.

Source: Wil Wheaton via BBC News

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