Following up on last month’s announcement, SAG-AFTRA, the union which represents the voice actors in video games and other interactive media, has voted in favor of authorizing a strike.
The Interactive Media division of the union published the results of its vote, stating that 96.52 percent of its members approved of the referendum. The union has made demands for better compensation, royalties, and other protections like more transparency in contracts and insurance for physically demanding roles.
These demands were not met by publishers like Activision and EA after rounds of bargaining, and the vote gives the union the right to declare a strike. This does not necessarily mean that a strike will happen, but it is on the table if negotiations continue to break down. If that happens, the union’s National Board can make the strike official, and many of video gaming’s most recognizable voices will be required not to voice record until a settlement is reached, meaning we’ll be playing silent video games for quite some time.
It’s like the Super Nintendo days all over again!
Some of the biggest names to speak out in favor of the vote have been David Hayter, the former voice of Solid Snake, and Jennifer Hale, best known for the role of FemShep from Mass Effect, using the hashtag #PerformanceMatters. On the flip side, plenty of developers have spoken out against the strike as well, stating that programmers and designers who sink much longer hours into the video games are already severely underpaid. More benefits for the actors means less for them.
Game designers, unlike voice actors, aren’t yet unionized to make such demands.
It’s all one huge mess, and it is something that will have to be addressed in the coming months. Video game development demands long hours from all involved, but it leans so heavily on the whole “Hollywood” approach that requires such voice and mo-cap actors. Without their support, AAA development would be impossible as it is today.
However, without the programmers and designers, you have no game anyway, and they must be accommodated for as well. Any way you look at this, budgets will only skyrocket because of this and more games are going to be considered failures for not being able to recoup their losses.