Video Game Voice Strike Ends

A strike by video game voice actors has ended after 11 months. The union has reached a deal with 11 games companies that sees both sides compromise.

The strike, by the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, was the longest in SAG history, covering both voiceover and on-screen actors. It led to some high profile recasting with union members Ashley Burch (Chloe in Life Is Strange) and Alyson Court (Claire Redfield in Resident Evil) both replaced in follow-up games.

The length of the strike was partly down to the difficulty in resolving the key issues, but may also have been because the long development time of video games meant it would take a longer period of withdrawn labour to have a significant impact.

The games companies involved include Electronic Arts, Take Two and Activision. Around 25 percent of video games use unionized voiceover artists.

The settlement meets some of the unions demands, most notably that artists should get more detail about the games for which they are being offered a role, including whether the script contains any offensive or explicit content. The deal also means the games companies have dropped several proposals including being able to demand performers carry out ‘atmospheric voice’ sessions at a reduced fee.

The union didn’t get its key demand however. It had called for voice actors to receive residual payments on games sales in the way some screen actors get from movies. The games companies refused, arguing that other people involved in game production don’t receive residuals.

Instead the settlement means the voice actors will get bonus payments for bigger projects, with an escalating amount added to their standard fee for each voiceover session. The theory is that the more sessions an actor puts in, the more significant their role in the game is.