Published: Sun, October 23, 2016
Economy | By Melissa Porter

Video Game Actors Go on Strike

Video Game Actors Go on Strike

Starting today at 3:01 a.m., SAG-AFTRA, the union for actors across film, television, radio, and videogames, is going on strike to protest the failure of videogame developers and publishers to reach a new contract with videogame voice actors. That said, SAG-AFTRA defines it as so: "Voice actors are routinely required to simulate painful deaths, creature voices, grunts, barks and other stressful vocalizations that can strain and damage their voices, sometimes permanently".

"This is not about terminology", countered SAG-AFTRA chief contract officer Ray Rodriguez, the union's chief negotiator on the contract, at a Friday press conference.

One of SAG-AFTRA's demands is that artists receive additional payment for every 500,000 units sold, with a maximum of four extra payments should a game sell over 2 million copies. On Thursday, the union refused to accept the other side's proposal, describing the current compensation structure as a "freeloader model".

SAG-AFTRA said it will put up its first picket line Monday outside the offices of Electronic Arts in Playa Vista, where union president Gabrielle Carteris will join the workers.

"Secondary compensation is what allows professional performers to feed their families in between jobs", said a spokeswoman for SAG-AFTRA in a prepared statement. "The time has come to end the freeloader model of compensation and that is why our members are united behind this cause".

The ultimate concluding offer that was made by the video game industry was an immediately effective 9% wage hike and "additional compensation" of up to a staggering $950 per game, the exact amount will depend on the exact number of sessions a performer has worked on the said game.

I brought up the famous Kotaku Fallout 4 reveal story, where the game's existence was leaked by casting call documents sent out to potential talent, and asked if SAG had any plans to crack down on voice actor-related leaks. Witlin added, "By having signed the prior Interactive Media Agreement, these Video Game Companies have demonstrated that they value performers more than those companies that have not signed an agreement with SAG-AFTRA". SAG-AFTRA represents performers in less than 25% of the games on the market, according to these companies.

SAG-AFTRA said the strike covers all games made by the companies that went into production after February 17, 2015. According to the document, companies "routinely engage performers without identifying the role or even the game that the performer is being engaged to work on and refuse to provide basic information about the nature of the performance that will be expected of them". SAG-AFTRA offered that it comes "after almost two years of unsuccessful negotiations". The reason being is the "No Strike Provisions" in agreements that require voice-over actors who are already working on a project to see it through completion.

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