Voice actors demand better pay from video game industry, threaten to strike

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The Screen Actors Guild‐American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTR) is reported to be preparing a massive strike against the video game industry.


Some members of SAG-AFTR who voice characters in videos games are arguing that as games have become more complex and immersive, more is being asked of them beyond simply acting in sound booths.

Titles like Beyond Two Souls, for example, are changing the way we think of how "realistic" games can be by using motion capture to recreate actors' faces and bodies.

All of that would be fine, the protesters say, were it not for the fact that many voice actors aren't being properly compensated.

"There is ample precedent for secondary payments across the media landscape,” SAG-AFTRA published to its blog. “You get secondary payments when you perform in feature films, animation, episodic TV, commercials and the like."

SAG-AFTRA continued:

"But that wasn’t always the case. Performers who came before you had the courage to fight for the residual payments you enjoy today, and, because they stood together, they won them.”

Many actors in support of the strike are pushing to be paid for doing stunt work in addition to improved back-end bonuses that would better reward them if and when a game sells well. Considering how well game executives are rewarded, the actors' demands make sense.

"Last year, Activision's COO took home a bonus of $3,970,862. EA paid their executive chairman a bonus of $1.5 million," the SAG-AFTR said. "We applaud their success, and we believe our talent and contributions are worth a bonus payment, too."


One of the more popular ideas for an updated bonus structure would reward actors with their bonuses automatically when a game sells over 2 million copies.

Though the strike has yet to take place, voice actors are already voicing their support for the movement with the hashtags #iAmOnBoard2015 and #PerformanceMatters.


Members of the SAG-AFTR voted on whether or not to strike earlier this week and in order for the strike to take place, 75% of the votes would have to be in favor of the protest.

Union members have until October 5 to cast their votes and if SAG-AFTR moves to strike, the it'll be up to game publishers to either enter negotiations or begin working with non-union actors.