Video Game Voice Actors Vote to Strike

Negotiations with publishers continue.


The Screen Actors Guild - American Federation of Television and Radio Artists has announced the results of a vote to strike, with 96.52% of members voting in favour of the Interactive Media Agreement Strike Authorization Referendum. This grants the National Board the authority to declare a strike if necessary.

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The referendum took place as a result of continuing negotiations with publishers such as Electronic Arts, Activision, Disney, and Warner Bros concerning the treatment of performers working in video games. The SAFG-AFTRA's Interactive Committee met with publishers in February this year to renegotiate a new agreement.

Earlier last month, the SAG-AFTRA explained that the template for the original agreement, negotiated and signed in the mid-1990s, was still in place today "despite radical changes in what we are required to do on set and in the recording studio" and warned that it could go on strike. The organisation is looking to make a number of changes to the agreement; among them including a better bonus payment plan.

"You might call them residuals, secondary payments, royalties, pay bumps or whatever suits your fancy," the union explained. "It is simply the idea that, if a video game is wildly successful, actors should share in its financial success. There is ample precedent for residual income for actors, yet they've historically been extremely difficult to achieve in this contract. The formula we propose is as follows:

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."

In addition, the union is proposing that the new agreement tackles concern for "Vocal Stress." That is, a proposal for a two hour limit on "vocally stressful" recording sessions. The group also wants to see stunt coordinators be required on set to assist performance capture actors. What's more, the proposal calls for greater overall transparency in the auditioning process. The union points out that, oftentimes, the actual name of a project is kept secret, and this is not an ideal situation for actors.

The SAG-AFTRA says that its package of proposals is "not loaded with any crazy demands." Several prominent voice actors have spoken out in support of authorising a strike, including Roger Craig Smith (Batman, Assassin's Creed), Jennifer Hale (Mass Effect, Guild Wars), and actor Wil Wheaton.

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