Video game voice actors may be going on strike

Either there's going to be a change or things are about to get weird.

Omitting all of the environment noises and music, it's rare that we meet a silent world in a video game; Characters tend to have a voice, narrators tell your story, heck, even zombies grunt. Someone has to be make all those sounds and words come together – that's where voice actors come in. 

Unfortunately, it looks at though the union representing voice actors isn't happy (and neither are some voice actors). What the SAG-AFTRA union and voice actors have been looking for is the stalemate to end between the game industry's biggest employers and the union seeking changes.

SAG-AFTRA has been making attempts to re-negotiate the terms of a mid-nineties contract, the Interactive Media Agreement, that has says how voice actors should be paid and treated. They have four main goals with the re-negotiations:

  • Performance Bonuses: 

    • If a video game is "wildly successful" voice actors should "share in its financial success." The union is requesting royalties for every 2 million copies sold until sales reach 8 million.
  • Vocal Stress:

    • Limit "vocally stressful" recording sessions to two hours at a time – that means those yelling and crying sessions.
  • Stunt Coordinator on Performance Capture Volume:

    • Stunt coordinators so ensure safety for voice actors performing stunts. 
  • Transparency:

    • The voice actors should have the answers to the following questions prior to joining a project:

      • How many sessions are you expecting to book? What rating are you planning to get? Why? Is there offensive content? Will the sessions be vocally stressful?

If there is no movement on the issue from companies like EA, Activision, Disney and Warner Bros., there could be a strike. The vote on whether to strike began on September 16 and it will end on October 4.

What voice actors are supporting this cause? Big names like David Hayter best known as the voice of Solid Snake (up until the release of The Phantom Pain), Jennifer Hale the voice of characters in Mass Effect, Metroid Prime, Metal Gear Solid and more, Wil Wheaton actor/TV voice actor, Cree Summer a TV voice actress and more. The voice actors are showing their support through a campaign on Twitter using the following hashtags: #PerformanceMatters, #iAmOnBoard2015.

While this is a great movement for voice actors, a strike could delay games or make the biggest voice actors the voice of even more characters. Nolan North has yet to reveal his stance on the subject, as does Troy Baker – these two voice actors are some of the biggest names in the industry right now.