There has been a brewing issue in the video game industry about how voice actors are compensated. The union, known as The Screen Actors Guild – The Federation of Television and Radio Artists, announced that it has advised its members appearing in video games to take “industrial action” (a.k.a. go on strike) on October 21, 2016. Despite ongoing negotiations, Screen Actors Guild president Gabrielle Carteris stated that neither side have come to a mutual agreement over the issue.
With the video game industry running side by side with and, in some cases, surpassing the movie industry, many believe that actors and actresses should be compensated in the same way they would if they had landed an on-air role in a movie. As it stands right now, voice actors are being compensated less when they appear in a video game than they do in a movie. Carteris went on to describe the video game industry as a “highly profitable industry” and believes that the strike will ensure that the voice actors will get what they deserve.
A lawyer representing the side of the video game industry stated that they believe the strike is disappointing and that the number of people on strike represent less than 25% of all video game performers. It was revealed that, currently, video game performers earn, on average, $100 per hour, plus benefits, with some bringing in even more than that. It was also noted that companies are actively looking to reduce the burdens on performers to help alleviate some things such as vocal stress.
Negotiations are set to continue over the next several days to prevent the strike.
The video game industry offered the following statement on the issue:
“We consider the Union’s threatened labor action to call a strike precipitous, unnecessary and an action that will only harm their membership. SAG-AFTRA represents performers in less than 25% of the video games on the market. Any strike would not only deny SAG-AFTRA’s membership work, but this would also give their competitors, who do not engage union talent, a leg up while any strike would be in place.
“The Video Game Companies had already scheduled bargaining sessions this week with SAG-AFTRA union leaders to attempt to reach a mutually beneficial agreement. We expect these negotiations to remain in place, and will continue to attempt to reach a fair and equitable contract despite the Union leadership’s most recent threatened labor action.
“The existing contract between Video Game Companies and SAG-AFTRA pays all performers more than $100 an hour plus benefits and most performers many times that. The Companies’ current proposals on the negotiation table includes wage increases for most performers and additional avenues for compensation that could yield many hundreds of dollars more in payments for limited integration and ratification bonuses. Although the Companies have had only one report of workplace injury due to vocal stress, the Companies have continued to look to ways to reduce the burdens on performers in this area through the more flexible work scheduling and other innovative work arrangements.
“We want to draw attention to the increased economic benefits and working condition improvements being offered because SAG-AFTRA’s website is inaccurate and out of date and does not reflect offers some of which have been on the table for more than a year.
“It is important to note that the Video Game Companies’ upcoming games are already in production and the majority will be unaffected by any SAG-AFTRA strike due to the nature of the ‘no strike provisions’ of the collective bargaining agreement. We anticipate minimal impact on current and near-future game releases.
“We produce Interactive Video Games for the enjoyment of people around the world and as a result we provide excellent jobs for many SAG-AFTRA members. Reaching a reasonable agreement is in the best interest of all parties, as well as the many fans of our games.”
With video games becoming as big as they are, the venture into hiring experienced actors and actresses from Hollywood to fill key roles was an inevitability. Do you believe that they are in the right for wanting more money? We’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter so please post them into the comments section below!