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SAG, AFTRA Renegotiate Acting Contracts With Developers

Two major actors' unions have revised their contracts with game developers, making changes that establish wage parity between the organizations and make provisions for standards surrounding "vocally stressful" acting work.
Two major actors' unions have revised their contracts with video game developers, making several changes that establish a wage parity between the organizations and make provisions for future standards surrounding "vocally stressful" voice acting work in games. Both the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists must have the revisions ratified by their respective administrative bodies during meetings in the coming weeks. If ratified, the new contracts will remain in effect until March 30, 2011. Back in 2005, the two organizations threatened a strike, but eventually called it off and ratified new contracts that stood until last December. At that time, a Variety report claimed only 10 to 15 percent of video game voice work is done by SAG or AFTRA actors -- although included in that figure are such heavy hitters as Halo and Madden. Under the new terms, wages for game voice actors under SAG will be raised by 3 percent, bringing them in line with existing AFTRA wages. This will be followed by a 2.5 percent wage increase for both organizations' workers on April 1, 2010. Similar measures to achieve parity and coordinated increases are included for pension and health care benefits. A $125,000 per-employer per-actor per-year pension and health care benefit cap has been established. Employers will also be held responsible for failing to notify voice actors of what the contract calls "vocally stressful" voice work, which the new stipulations say must gain a set of guidelines by the end of the current contract term. Finally, along with the "vocally stressful" category of performance comes one for "atmospheric voices" -- that is, minor acting roles that exist largely for ambiance. The classification allows developers to hire individual voice actors to play numerous such characters within a single recording session.

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