We interrupt this regularly scheduled blog post for an important news flash....
Apparently voice over actors are ready to strike. Specifically they want to go on a video game strike. Even more specifically it is members of SAG-AFTRA voting on whether or not to strike. If they get 75% of the vote then SAG-AFTRA union members will be expected to cease all work on video games and non-union members are encouraged to do the same. (Trying to get ahead of scabs here, which frankly is just about impossible. There will always be a starry eyed newbie who will get heart palpitations if they get offered a part in "professional" video game.)
My thoughts? Well, I'm glad you asked. I think it's important for VO actors to see some return on what is one of the hardest jobs in voice over. Video games require hours of work. Not only working on the actual lines, of which there are usually thousands if you are a lead or even supporting character, but you have all the grunts, huffs, uhs, ahs, ohs, etc. This can take hours in and of itself and it straight up murders the voice box. For all of that, the voice actor is given their standard hourly rate and their name in the credits that no will actually watch. In certain situations you have games like Grand Theft Auto V or the Mass Effect series that sells millions of copies. So the actor sits there and watches the game break every sales record known to man and their voice is in every gamers home and what do they get to show for it? Not much, relatively speaking.
(And don't even get me started on Mass Effect. You search for "Voice of Commander Shepard" in Google, and Mark Meer pops up. Problem is Shepard can be a woman or a man, it's a choice you have at the beginning of each game. Jennifer Hale is the voice of the female Shepard. She is relegated to the "People also searched for..." box. But that's a whole other blog post...)
All the voice actors are asking for is a bonus. (Not even a residual, because that is a snowball's chance in Hell.) A bonus if the game hits certain sales numbers (2, 4, 6, 8 million.) Also there is a request for "stunt pay" for projects that require hours of yelling and grunting or if the project requires screen capture. Obviously I'm simplifying the terms but those are the big items. Not much to ask in my opinion. Not much at all.
So if you want to read more about this check out this article on Game Informer. Also there are some hashtags being used by VO community if you want to share your support: #PerformanceMatters and #Iamonboard2015
Thanks for stopping by. If you have any questions or thoughts drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.