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Video game voice actors could be about to go on strike

Video game voice actors are voting whether or not to go on strike after talks between SAG-AFTRA and publishers ended at an impasse.

Video game voice actors are voting on a potential strike after talks between SAG-AFTRA - a division of the Screen Actor's Guild representing voice actors - and industry representatives ended at an impasse.  

A SAG-AFTRA committee has held a number of meetings with a high profile publishers and developers, including the likes of EA, Activision, Disney, and Warner Bros., in an attempt to renegotiate the Interactive Media Agreement - a template drafted in the mid 90s that specifies what voice actors are and aren't required to do on set. 

The committee wants to "bring this long-standing agreement into the 21st century" by addressing a number of key issues relating to items such as performance bonuses and vocal stress. 

"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," said SAG-AFTRA .

"We [also] believe actors should get stunt pay for vocally stressful recording sessions the same way they get stunt pay for physically demanding roles. That’s why we’re proposing to limit “vocally stressful” recording sessions to two hours at the same union minimums."

The union also wants to improve working conditions for actors who perform stunt work, explaining that its members regularly risk their livelihood by performing stunts in unsafe environments, often without a stunt coordinator. 

Finally, the group has called for more transparency, and is asking that voice actors are told, among other things, the actual title of the game they're auditioning for, how many sessions they'll be required to work, and whether or not the sessions will be vocally stressful. 

During the talks, game developers and publishers also requested some changes of their own, such as the ability to fine actors $2500 for being late, and refused to acknowledge that motion and performance capture work would be covered under a new contract. The companies involved in the meetings also want to be allowed to hire their own employees to play characters, without that member of staff being forced to join the union. 

Although we won't know the result until voting closes on October 5, a number of high profile voice actors have been using the #PerformanceMatters hashtag on Twitter to express their support of the changes and the strike itself. 

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