With negotiations for the new SAG-AFTRA (Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) Interactive Media Agreement at a standstill after it expired at the end of 2014, a vote on whether to strike is running until October 5. If they don’t settle right away, I wouldn’t be surprised if video game companies try to hire inexperienced, non-professional voice actors and mocap actors that aren’t represented by the union, which would ultimately affect the quality of voice work in future games to come.
Other stipulations include “stunt pay” for work the union deems “vocally stressful”, stunt coordinators for intensive motion-capture, and additional information for auditions within the industry. SAG-AFTRA has held meetings with multiple publishers, including EA, Warner Bros., Activision, and Disney. If the votes counted warrant a strike, the actors’ union says it will ask employers to negotiate one last time before beginning a work stoppage.
Voting is now taking place. Among these is the idea of performance bonuses – that if a game is successful, then some of those earnings should also trickle down to the voice actors.
SAG-AFTRA is also seeking language covering what it called “vocally stressful” recordings. It recently published an update on those negotiations in which it rejects proposals by the games industry and discusses a potential strike.
In the FAQ section, the first question asked is, “The demands are too outrageous to be serious”. The definition if being “attentive” is not specifically explained and the union has stated their demands “may not even be legally enforceable”. “Again, precedent is on our side here”.
We’ll keep you informed on the progress of this matter.
The union also said companies have proposed being able to fine actors and agents along with being able to use “persons employed on staff” as voice actors who would not be covered under the agreement. Contracts vary, of course, but usually voice actors in video games get paid a one-time fee to do their job.
Video game performers are proposing a change to four key issues in their renegotiation of the Interactive Media Agreement.
A large number of prominent video game performers have already voiced their support for the strike, including Mass Effect’s Jennifer Hale, Borderlands’ Ashly Burch, Metal Gear Solid’s (and Futurama’s) Phil LaMarr, and Wil Wheaton, now providing voice for Firefly Online.
Voice actors in favor of the strike are rallying on Twitter with #PerformanceMatters.