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Production of Your Next Favourite Video Game Could Be Disrupted By a Voice Actors Strike

The performers behind the characters you love to play as are demanding a better deal for their essential work.

by Mike Diver
23 September 2015, 8:03am

Mass Effect's 'FemShep' actress Jennifer Hale is amongst those supporting the strike action

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We've seen the making of both movies and television shows disrupted in the recent past by the striking of key creative talents, be that writers or actors or any other group whose presence in the production process is essential. And now video game fans should ready themselves for delays in their most-anticipated titles coming out, as several high-profile voice actors working in the industry are threatening strike action.

As reported on a number of gaming websites, including VG 24/7 and Destructoid, performers who are registered with the union SAG-AFTRA are taking themselves out of work in protest again conditions they feel are unreasonable. Wil Wheaton, Jennifer Hale (Commander Shepard in the Mass Effect games) and Tara Strong (Harley Quinn in several Batman games) are amongst those who've posted their support of strike action on social media.

VG 24/7 reports that 75 percent of SAG-AFTRA members support the action, the reason for which is grounded in some pretty out-of-date paperwork. The Interactive Media Agreement is the document that outlines the requirements video game actors must meet when on the job. Its words remain binding, despite it being introduced in the mid-1990s. The job, of course, has changed dramatically, with motion capture work increasing exponentially over the intervening years and today's voice actors recording a lot more dialogue per game than they did 20 years ago.

"We're looking to bring this long-standing agreement into the 21st century," states the SAG-AFTRA website. It outlines what it wants to see factored into a new agreement, such as bonuses based on units sold, "stunt pay" for stressful sessions and much greater transparency regarding what developers are going to need from an actor prior to them signing on the line. It also highlights fines that voice actors and their agents could face if the Interactive Media Agreement isn't properly modernised. As it stands, an actor could be fined $2,500 for as little as checking a text during a booking, for being "inattentive".

Naturally, there's a hashtag on Twitter to help you follow developments: #performancematters.


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