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Do Voice Actors Matter…Well Duh

A view into the voice actors strike.

Drew Fletcher, Blogger

November 22, 2016

4 Min Read

     (Cue epic music and amazing deep voice over) HELLO EVERYONE! I AM YOUR FRIENDLY NEIGHBORHOOD GAME DESIGNER AND TODAY I’M TALKING ABOUT THE VOICE ACTOR STRIKE.  Now just imagine if I recorded that?

     In case you haven’t heard, the voice actors who are part of the SAG-AFTRA union are striking against 11 of the largest publishers in the gaming industry.  In the time this strike has occurred there hasn’t been much communication between the sides to resolve this issue.  Now I’m going to attack this from both sides, get ready.

     From what I understand from the side of the voice actors, they want better work conditions and compensation.  Now I can see your eye rolls, well Mr. FNGD (Friendly Neighborhood Game Designer in case you forgot) how bad can recording studios be?  Well I will tell you and they are nice, I’m guessing; I have never seen one.  That isn’t what I was talking about, I’m speaking about the wear and tear on an actor’s voice.  Just imagine being told to act like you’re being clawed to death by a zombie for 4 hours.  I can barely yell into my head set for health for 30 minutes.  Now imagine your voice being ruined for the week and having to cancel other work you had planned.   In case I missed it, landlords or banks don’t take IOUs for rent.  It must be hard to maintain a living if the way you do so constantly injuries you.  When it comes to compensation voice actors would like to see bonuses when the game they worked on sells over 2 million copies (If it is 1.99 copies no dice no round ups).

     Now from the industry’s point of view, let me use this quote from an article I will link in the bottom, “Voice actors represent ‘less than one-tenth of one per cent of the total workforce on the game,’ Witlin said.”  Scott Witlin is the lawyer representing the gaming industry during negotiations.  While the industry’s side of this debate says they would increase wages for voice actors, this still isn’t enough.  Mr. Witlin also points out that because the voice actors are in a union they would be the only one getting the bonuses and game developers would be left out.  Now this is a fair point.   You spend the last 2 years making a game, it becomes a blockbuster and only the voice actors get bonuses for it.  What about the programmers, QA testers and poor game designers like me?  I promise you this is where they real problem lies.  If the industry were to agree to the terms of the voice actors this would be a huge mind set shift in developers.  They might start screaming if not marching using scary words like union and bonuses.

     At the end of the day the voice actors aren’t fighting the 11 companies who are part of this disagreement.  They are truly fighting the culture of the video game industry itself.  We have all heard stories of programmers being worked to death, testers working 7 days a week to find bugs and even more horror stories.  Unfortunately as an industry we don’t fully believe in social lives (And I mean OUTSIDE of work).  I’m sure the view on the voice actors is, “You’re so lucky to do your job.  Stop complaining and keep working!” There are plenty of people who live and die by crunch and don’t mind not seeing their home for a few days.   It is good to have people who will do anything to get the project done, but at what cost does that come?  I hope negotiations end for the better and make the industry a friendlier place.

     Well that is my say folks.  I will leave links to articles I found on the topic and a place where you can take voice acting classes!  Don’t let the hard times stop you from chasing your dreams.  Who knows you might hear my voice one day (I hope I can voice a cool samurai or something).

      This is your friendly neighborhood game designer in QA and I hope your voice is always heard!





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