I’m getting yelled at by people on Twitter because I support my union (SAG-AFTRA)’s efforts to negotiate a better contract for voice performers like myself who perform in video games.
The most frequent complaint goes something like this: “actors work for maybe a few days at most on a game, and they want residual payments?! Programmers and others who work on those same games spend literally years of their lives on them, and they don’t get residuals! Actors are greedy jerks!”
I can’t speak to the fairness or unfairness of residuals or lack of residuals for programmers, artists, composers, and others who game developers and publishers, because that’s not my job, and I don’t know what, precisely, their contracts are. I certainly don’t believe that there is some sort of feud or lack of shared interest between us (the actors) and them, and I fully support all the people who work on games — especially the huge blockbuster games that pull in profits that are in line with the biggest blockbuster movies — getting the very best contract, with the best compensation and best working conditions that they possibly can.
But I did not give my union authorization to call a strike on my behalf because of this issue. I voted to authorize a strike because our employers in the games industry refuse to negotiate with us at all about some very, very important issues surrounding our working conditions.
Let me share some excerpts from an email I got from SAG-AFTRA recently (emphasis mine):
You may have heard that billion-dollar companies like Activision, Warner Bros., Disney and Rockstar Games are against sharing any of their record-setting profits with the performers who help make their games awesome. But…
DID YOU KNOW…
Our employers have rejected every proposal that we’ve put on the table? That includes the community’s proposals to reduce vocally stressful sessions to two hours, […]
This, right here, is reason enough to strike, as far as I am concerned. I fully realize that for anyone who doesn’t work as a voice actor it sounds insane to care about vocally stressful sessions. I realize that when you hear that actors want to reduce those sessions to two hours or less, it can easily create an impression that actors are lazy and entitled, and don’t want to work as hard as other people do.
(Edit to clarify: Some folks seem to think I’m arguing that voice actors should never have to work more than two hours a day. That’s not what I’m arguing for, at all. I’m arguing that sessions which are vocally stressful should be limited to two hours. Other sessions, with regular dialog and scenes, are typically six to eight hours, and I’m not arguing to change that.)
Listen, if you truly feel that way, I hope you’ll do something to give you some perspective on what this actually means. I really want to help everyone understand what we do when we use our voices to bring video game characters to life, and why the expectations (I believe they are demands) from our employers are unreasonable.
Okay? Let’s get started. Since you probably don’t have a video game script at hand, we’re going to simulate it. I want you to grab your favorite book, and I want you to read, out loud, twenty pages from it. Really put your heart and soul into the dialog, and bring it to life. I need to feel emotion, and I need to be invested in the characters. Now, go do it again, but just slightly different this time, because we’re going to need options. Okay, you’re doing great. You’ve been at it for about two hours now (if you average around six minutes a page, like I do), so take a ten minute break. Drink some hot tea with lemon and honey in it, and then go read it one last time.
So you’re about three hours into it — that’s it! Just three hours! Five hours less than an average (union-negotiated) workday! Your sinuses are feeling a little raw, because you’ve pushed a lot of sound and moisture out of your body. You probably feel some emotional fatigue, because you’ve been putting a lot of emotion into your work. But you’re a professional, so you don’t complain. In fact, you’re grateful for the job, because if you’re lucky you’ll get to do this maybe twice a month. And, honestly, this is still better than coal mining, right? Right.
Okay. Still with me? Good. You can eat lunch now, if you want. You probably go for something with a lot of salt in it, because it soothes your vocal chords. I’m a big fan of the chicken soup, though sometimes I’ll have a burrito, because #burritowatch.
Lunch is over. You’ve been at work for about 4 and a half or five hours at this point. You’re going to go read another ten pages from your book, but I’m only going to ask you to do it once, because you’re probably in the zone by now and you are nailing most things on the first take.
It’s time for the call outs, and then you’re done for the day. Maybe you’re done for the whole job! Awesome. Here’s what you’re going to do: you’re going to make a spreadsheet, with 40 rows on it. In each row, you’re going to put a line of dialog that you’re going to do three times in a row before you move on to the next line. This spreadsheet will have a few columns, with the dialog in the first column, and some direction in the second column. There’s a third column, usually, but that’s got information in it that’s not relevant to our job as actors, so ignore it.
I’ve made you a sample of a few lines from a military game I made up, to help you get started:
You’re going to do each of those three times, sometimes four times. You’re also going to do this for three more hours. Don’t worry, you can take a couple of short breaks — and you’ll need them — to drink some more of that tea you’re getting sick of.
If you’ve done this as I asked, it’s now six or seven hours after you started. Don’t talk at all for the rest of the day, and don’t make any plans to go audition for any other voice work for the rest of the week, because your voice is wrecked. Don’t go to any kind of day job that requires you to talk with anyone, either, because you’re not going to be able to do that. Oh, and over years and years of this, it’s going to build up into serious and permanent damage … and then you’re not going to be able to work with your voice anymore.
The fact that our employers won’t even talk with us about this growing problem, that affects the ability of all voice performers to take care of themselves, is reason enough to go on strike until they will.
But there’s more. Our employers also refuse:
[…] to hire stunt safety coordinators to protect actors’ well-being in the PCap volume, to share with us and/or our representatives the actual name of the games we work on, and to outline the nature of the work we’ll be doing?
Working in Motion Capture is amazing, and that technology has allowed some of the most incredible works of videogame art in history to be created. The Last of Us, Grand Theft Auto V, Heavy Rain, Uncharted 4, are just a few of the titles that have been brought to life by talented performers using their voices and their movements to create a realism that was unheard of fifteen years ago. It can be dangerous work, especially when there are fights involved, so when we work in live action film or television, there is always a trained, qualified, professional stunt coordinator on set to ensure that nothing goes wrong and nobody gets hurt. The performers who work in those scenes should be afforded the same protection we get when we’re on a traditional film or television set.
And I totally get the desire for studios to protect their upcoming releases by using codenames for various projects when we audition, but asking — in this case expecting — us to go into something with absolutely zero knowledge about the project, or what we’ll be expected to do if we are cast, is completely unreasonable. Maybe someone has a moral objection to the content of a game, and they’d like to know what it is before they commit to it. Maybe they get to see three pages of the script (usually just single lines with no context) and they wouldn’t take the job if they found out the part was just one scene, followed by sixty pages of call outs, being delivered by several different characters. Or maybe they just aren’t into the project when they find out what it is. The point is, expecting actors — or anyone — to commit to a job without knowing exactly what it entails just defies common sense. We have got to be able to figure out a compromise that fairly and equitably addresses everyone’s concerns. You know, a negotiation.
But it gets worse, because these people, who have refused to address a single proposal from SAG-AFTRA, have some ideas of their own that they apparently expect us to just accept without question:
Our employers want to be able to fine you $2,500 if you show up late or are not “attentive to the services for which [you] have been engaged.” This means you could be fined for almost anything: checking an incoming text, posting to your Twitter feed, even zoning out for a second. If a producer feels you are being “inattentive,” they want the option to fine you $2,500.
Our employers want to be able to fine the union $50,000-$100,000 if your franchised agent doesn’t send you out on certain auditions (like Atmospheric Voices or One Hour One Voice sessions)?
I’m sorry. What? The studios want to fine SAG-AFTRA up to $100,000 if our agents don’t send us out on an audition? Because these same people who refuse to discuss any of our proposals for this upcoming contract believe … what, exactly? That they own us all and they can force our agents to do whatever they want them to do? This makes literally no sense at all.
If your agent chooses not to submit you for certain auditions, our employers want to put into our contract language forcing SAG-AFTRA to revoke your agent’s union franchise. This would mean that your agency would not be able to send you out on any union jobs, including those in animation, TV/film, commercials, etc.
So this is ludicrous. I can not think of a single instance in the history of the entertainment industry where a studio of any sort has asked for and gotten something like this. If my agent doesn’t submit me for something, for whatever reason, that’s between my agent and me. Maybe I don’t want to work for a certain studio, so my agent doesn’t submit me for their projects. Maybe I don’t want to work with a certain director, or another performer or whatever I feel like because I’m a sentient human being who makes his own decisions. These employers (at video game companies and video game studios) want to have the option of preventing our agents from submitting us for any work at all, and that’s outrageous. Our relationship with our agents is, frankly, none of any studio’s business. (Edit 9/24/15 5:54pm): I just remembered that SAG doesn’t have a franchise agreement with agents at the moment, and hasn’t for some time. So there is no franchise to revoke (as I understand it, now).
IT’S NOT JUST SECONDARY PAYMENTS WE’RE FIGHTING FOR. IT’S THE FUTURE OF THE WORK WE DO.
We are at a crossroads, and we have a choice to make.
This is the crux of it, really. It really, really, really and honestly and truly isn’t about money. Sure, payment and compensation is certainly part of it, but it’s not all of it, and it isn’t even the biggest part of it. We really are fighting for the future of our ability to work in this business.
If we stand united, we have a chance to make real gains in this contract and to avoid these onerous rules and fines. SAG-AFTRA is one union now. We have power we’ve never had before, and it needs to be deployed now.
If we don’t stand together, we won’t even be able to maintain the status quo.
That’s why your Negotiating Committee, Executive Committee and National Board have all voted unanimously to support this action. Now, it’s in your hands. We hope you’ll join us and vote YES for a strike authorization.
Voting YES for a strike authorization does NOT mean we are on strike, it does NOT mean that we have to strike or that we will strike. It simply means that you authorize your Negotiating Committee and elected representatives to call for a strike against video game companies as a last resort, in order to make sure that your safety and well-being are protected, and that your future is free from any unnecessary fines and penalties. A strike authorization gives your Negotiating Committee real power at the bargaining table.
I love the work that I do. I’m grateful for the work that I have, and I’ve been lucky to work with some incredibly talented people on both sides of the recording studio glass. This isn’t about making enemies of the other creative people in the business, be they directors, studio engineers, artists, programmers, sound designers, writers, etc. This is about a handful of extremely wealthy, extremely powerful people trying to take away our ability to make a living, to take care of our voices, and to be safe on the set.
We in the voice acting community — along with the programmers and engineers, of course — have helped video games grow into a multi-billion dollar industry. Video games rival movies not because we push buttons and get loot, but because video games tell amazing stories that touch our lives in ways that movies can not.
I sincerely hope that a strike won’t be necessary. I sincerely hope that our employers will come to the negotiating table and talk with us in good faith, to reach an agreement that’s fair.
But if they won’t, I’ll go on strike unless and until they will, because I believe that #PerformanceMatters.
408 thoughts on “This is why I support a SAG-AFTRA strike authorization for video games — and it isn’t about money.”
As a full-time programmer at a large independent game studio, I fully support you in this effort. Even before I read about the awful fines and stipulations the big publishers are trying to foist on you guys. I am the bone and muscle of game development; you are the soul.
Let me know if you’d like a studio tour sometime.
As someone who works on the other side of the equation, I’m going to let you know that the main reason your proposals keep getting rejected outright is because every single one has had the demand for residuals in it. It’s not happening.
You’re asking for something that nobody else in the industry gets. Programmers, designers, writers, QA, marketing, sales, none of those people get residuals. None of these guys have unions, so this isn’t a situation where our side us going to use you getting residuals as a wedge to start getting us residuals.
If you just want better working conditions, then just ask for that. The way you describe it isn’t quite as it seems. For example, I’ve worked with actors who come in and tell me that they’re all torn up from a session they did across town. So, yeah, it’s physically demanding, but it’s not like you’re so wrecked you can’t go out and do other work. Also, if I’m not mistaken, while your previous proposals have been rejected, voice actors have gotten modest pay increases every time you’ve gone to the table.
Yeah, the way those rules are worded are BS. However, if you’ve ever experienced the special hell that is trying to get an actor who doesn’t care to give you their full attention, you’d understand why this is there.
I was directing one session that was a game based on an animated show, so we were contractually obligated to use the same actors for the show. 2 lines in, and the voice director for the animated series and I have a discussion about a term. Actress asks what the deal is, director, responds. She says she’s going to go read a magazine while we figure it out. Exits the booth before we can tell her it’ll just be a second.
Right now, I have zero recourse for that behavior. I can’t reduce her pay, I can’t fire her, I can’t even dock her the 10 minutes of the session she ulitmately burns because you have to pay is an hour, and she would only work one hour sessions.
Granted, that’s an extreme scenario, and it’s ridiculous to ask you voice actors to give game companies such wide-ranging, easily abusable protections. But, there probably needs to be SOMETHING to protect against the situations I described, right?
In short, the stipulation that every requested union member be available for every audition is as much of a non-starter as residuals are. So, why don’t we just kill off both of those and figure out a way to come to terms on protection from vocally taxing sessions, and protection from unprofessional actors messing up our schedules? I think negotiations would be viewed in a much better light if they were simply about getting reasonable considerations instead of two sides going to the table attempting to extract as much as is humanly possible from the other side whole conceding nothing.
And the truth comes out. It’s about wanting residuals and royalties. Typical greed as usual.
You mean greedy like the game companies are?
The Game Company Only goal Is to a larger Profit margin Then the Devs spend to make the game. That’s it end of story. If “guilded” Vo actor/actress cost the more then a Certain percent then No guilded act work. Its more profitable to use Ted from accounting or Jenna from the 3d environment render team They will. And it will be cheaper.
More over the Game buyer proves that Vo is a 2nd or 3rd tier of important. Destiny Sold 3 million copies with barely a story to be Vo’d. And Gamers don’t care about Who read the lines. There was No rioting after MSG V release and the actor swap for Splinter Cell. At best Vo adds to a environment but its not need.
Please tell me you don’t write the script or create code for these games, you grammatically fragmented, pathetically unprotected idiot. We have a union to guarantee us safety and a living wage in an ever increasingly fragmented workplace. Clickscribes like you may someday look up from your Doucheboy or whatever you’re playing on & realize you need to organize. Maybe you’ll fight for your rights like you do for a synthesized, fictional war game or PKD human/robot knockoff. Oh, have some more Cheetos & a pull off of your dick shaped bong.
Okay, you don’t explain it here and you really should, given how emotional you are about it, why are you so against voice actors getting residuals for work they’ve done? I say you are “emotional” because assigning the word “greed” to what seems like a very natural desire to take a share of the (often very large) profit from a shared endeavor, indicates a visceral reaction on your part. Greed happens when someone wants to take a great deal more than their share, while taking that share harms others.
Why are you so strongly against the very idea that well-paid corporate executives shouldn’t even have to talk about the merest possibility of sharing what are often ridiculously huge profits with the people who did the actual work to make that profit? That sounds like a royal’s attitude about the peasantry: “How dare they even attempt to talk to us about this!”
See, regarding your first sentence, this doesn’t make sense to me. If the residuals are the main bone of contention why not sit down and say, “This isn’t happening but let’s discuss the rest of it?” To absolutely refuse to discuss the matter seems a little ridiculous, especially since they’re talking strike. The whole point of negotiation is to say, we’re willing to do this, but not that or this is why we feel this is necessary. To outright refuse to come to the table seems nonsensical.
Voice actors in every other medium get residuals. They get them from commercials, animation, you name it. Everything EXCEPT video games. Why should video games be different? Think about it this way – everyone that works on the inside (programmers, designers, writers, Q&A, marketing, etc) gets an average amount of money per produced game. Totally ballparking, let’s say an average major release takes a year to produce and the average salary of someone working on it is $65k per year. So that designer made $65k on that one project. But the voice actor (without whom you have no game) will make a fraction of that. How is that fair? Same game. Same end product. But the voice actor, without whom your game is unplayable in this day and age, should be satisfied with a session fee? You can’t live on a session fee. Actors are always cobbling together a living with multiple projects and multiple revenue streams in part because while our contribution may take the least amount of time to capture, it’s the one that the audience sees and hears. And we deserve to be able to pay our mortgage and put our kids through college via our skill set just as much as the salaried game studio employees. Having said that, yes, you should absolutely be able to fine an actor for being late, wasting time or otherwise being unprofessional. But that doesn’t mean that voice actors shouldn’t be paid residuals, the same as they are in every other recorded medium.
“But the voice actor, without whom your game is unplayable in this day and age”. Not really. Keifer barely speaks in Metal Gear Solid 5. He could as well be voiced by any random guy.
Then why was he voiced by Keifer instead of a random guy? Either getting Keifer has a value, which means he’s worth paying for, or anybody can do the job, in which case, well, just go out and put a random guy in front of the mic and hear what you get.
Is there a phrase for this fallacy, where something you don’t know how to do looks easy, until you get to do it and then you find out why people get paid big (or just adequate-sized) bucks for doing it well? Except a lot of these types never get their prejudice tested, and continue to think that, for example, voice acting is just talking and anyone can do that.
I think you’re looking for Dunning–Kruger effect https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E2%80%93Kruger_effect
Keifer is a name, there is value in that fact alone. Look at Nicholas Cage who still carries a worthwhile (to studios) box office draw despite churning out disinterested performance after disinterested performance in mediocre films.
I don’t doubt the difficulty of voice acting but there’s more to a hiring decision like that than simple ability.
There is a phrase just for that: they call it “Dunning-Kruger effect.”
Your argument seems to happily ignore the fact that the voice actors only work for a few days on the project, maybe a couple weeks at best. The artists/designer and programmers work for over a year, if not many, full-time, 5-7 days a week, with lots of unpaid over-time (especially during crunch). So how the hell do you think a VO is entitled to anywhere near the same amount of money? That is ridiculous.
Voice acting is not a job that is meant to be a steady line of work. It should only ever be treated as a side job. Yet people like Will, who already make money other ways, are asking for it to be given the pay of a full-time job, if not more pay.
The audience “sees” and “hears” the game art and sounds too, even more so than the voice acting. It is what truly bring a game to life. The voice acting is just icing on the cake.
Nobody is claiming that a voice actor should make the same amount for a given project as one of the programmers, just like nobody is claiming that a guest actor appearing in one episode should make the same as the series producer. They are claiming that voice actors in games should be paid using the same framework as voice actors in commercials, movies, or serials.
But that’s not the important part. Did you even read the whole title, let alone the whole article?
Games are not film. It is a different industry. And yes I read the whole article, twice.
Did you read what I said?
Just because voice actors have managed to gain certain perks in the film industry, does not mean they should be entitled to them in the game industry. I’m fine with everything else he wants, but not the residuals. The money for those residuals has to come from somewhere, and where do you think that will be, the CEO’s pay? No. It will be trimmed from the lower-down employee’s pays. The fact of the matter is, VOs get paid generously for games, and demanding residuals on games where you role in the production is typically a lot smaller than film based projects, is offensive and hurtful to all the amazing people who put their heart and soul into these games for years on end.
No, games are not films. The film industry has had a century to find a working employment and compensation system. The game industry has not, and it shows.
I’ve been in the game industry for over a decade, and I have been fortunate in that both of my studios have offered a profit sharing program. Though perhaps not so fortunate in my first gig; we never pulled down a profit.
I don’t know how much voice actors make for their work, but I have zero problem with actors being granted a piece of the profit, using the same basic formula of current pay rate times length of time worked. They are a part of the project, contributing to its success or failure, as much as an engineer like me.
You seem so bitter and I don’t understand why.
Here’s the problem I have with that. Hopefully this with help clarify some things for you. You believe that actors should be getting residuals, but you list no other reason than because you need money and other mediums such as movies and television give them. As someone coming from the other side of the fence, you have to understand how blatantly greedy and ego centric that sounds.
“Why should video games be different?”
Because they are different. They are very different. In other mediums, Acting is the main focus. It’s the only focus actually. That is their whole point. The idea is to watch an actor on the screen tell a story. Games have cutscenes, that’s it. 95% of the product has nothing to do with the actors in the cutscenes. For most, they are a simple facet to introduce the next section of gameplay. Some are more heavily story based such as Until Dawn, but not most. So with that in mind, why is it you believe you should receive residuals? Ask yourself honestly, is it because you strongly feel you deserve them, or just because you want more?
“So that designer made $65k on that one project. But the voice actor (without whom you have no game) will make a fraction of that. How is that fair? Same game. Same end product. But the voice actor, without whom your game is unplayable in this day and age, should be satisfied with a session fee? ”
I’m not even sure where to start with this one. This comparison is beyond absurd. First things I want to say is that I’m a software engineer with a pretty decent salary, and I know for a fact that the actors make more than I do at a fraction of the work. If you aren’t making that kind of money, it’s not because it’s not out there. It’s the same reason you’re not making that kind of money in movies. So lets look at that designer you mentioned and his 65k salary. That designer is the creative force behind the entire game.The put in an average 50 hours per week not including crunch. Lets say 2 months of that year are spent in crunch mode where he works between 60 to 80 hours. If you do they math that comes to about 2700 hours for that year. Now compare that to how many hours the average VA spends on a game. Now, you want to talk about fairness. How is it fair when the VA gets more than that designer who labored away pouring all his creative energy into for that year. Then he hears that same VA saying they want more, they want residuals. Can you imagine how that designer might see you?
You say that games would not be playable without the work of the voice actors. How can you not see how insulting that is to the hundreds of engineers, artists, animators, sound designers and producers who ACTUALLY make the game. That game is their baby and have most likely dedicated a few years of their life to it. They could make a game without VA’s. Just look at pretty much ANY Nintendo game. a VA on the other hand wouldn’t even know where to begin, correct?
“it’s the one that the audience sees and hear”
Again, this is not a movie and the cutscenes that the player “sees and hear” is a very small part of the product in the looked at in perspective. It’s this over inflated ego that is causing them to think otherwise. I’m not saying it’s not important. It does add a level of quality to a game. But in the grand scheme of things it’s not the most important part as you seem t believe. In fact it’s the least important part. You could remove every cutscene from 99% of games and still have the same, full experience. You can’t say that about any other part of the game. I don’t mean that to be an insult. It’s just the truth. I believe that all areas of the game are important, cutscenes and acting just happen to be the least important. This is why they are so inherently different than movies.
Giving VA’s residuals would be like giving a freelance artist with a 3 month contract health benefits, a 401k, and stock options. It’s not going to happen and nor should it. Doing so would be taking money straight of the developers pockets. It would be morally wrong and quite frankly, undeserving.
I fully support almost everything else they are asking for. Safety for the actors when required and health concerns regarding their voice. That’s fair and reasonable. Residuals is purely out of greed and an over inflated ego. Period.
It’s telling that no one seems to want to respond to this comment…
A developer will get a certain amount per year, but that’s the ONLY project that they’re working on. Voice over “artists” or “actors” will have multiple projects per DAY in many cases. Each time, they’re earning about a few grand depending on ability, experience, popularity etc.
Hell, multiply that by 10 for actual decent movie or TV stars.
They’re already getting paid way over the odds as it is. After they’ve finished their recording for the day, they get to go home, maybe go out with friends. Do you know what your typical game developer is doing while this happens? They’re still at work. They’re still there until late or the wee hours, killing themselves in the hope that the game will be a success, that they won’t get laid off after the game ships.
While the likes of “talent” (and I use the word in an insulting tone of voice) like Will Wheaton are mocking the games playing audience and branding them misogynists, while he’s sending pithy tweets about some guy who’s smoking (rather than politely asking the guy to stop smoking)and being a douche bag at some part or dinner he’s attending having spent all day schmoozing; your typical game developer is still at work. He or she is dedicating their time, a lot of that time, to making the game as great as they can.
If VO artists really think a few hours of their time is worth more than 18 months of a developers time, then they don’t have my support.
I don’t know where you’re getting your information, but this is absolutely not correct.
From some of the parts of his comment, I’d venture a guess that he’s a #goobergobbler.
Union voice actor here. I was also floored by this statement. For those who are not aware, one of the main reasons the union has fought so hard for residuals elsewhere is because actors work so infrequently. It’s better for actors, and ultimately the clients and consumers, if the pay structure enables a permanent workforce of actors. The residual system is what enables that. If, as someone suggested above, it’s only meant to be a part-time job – kind of a cruel thing to say to people who have devoted years to the craft – then you’re going to end up with a lower level of ability and devotion that we’re able to put towards the job, and the results will show that. Finally, for everyone who is suggesting that it’s not that hard, and anyone can do it, ask yourself: if this were true, then why studios would bother entering negotiations with the union in the first place?
Oh, and seriously, 2 hours of call-outs is brutal, people. Just try screaming bloody murder for two hours and see if you still feel the same on these issues.
Very well said, Will. (I am an SAG-AFTRA member).
Um, what did the CEO’s compensation packages look like for these companies?
Voice actors are not at all comparable to CEO’s, so why is that even a question? The question should be “What do the artists and engineer’s packages look like at these companies?”. And the answer would be “like shit”. Even though their roles are much more intense and longer than any VO has ever experienced in the game industry.
“like shit” Which is why they should have unions too. Why don’t they?
Because there’s a massive oversaturation of young people willing to do anything to get a foot into the industry, especially games. It’s seen as a “cool” job. If a union is started, there a hundreds of others who will take our place and not join the union, because this industry is way too competitive to risk putting your job on the line.
That’s what management wants everyone to believe, but history proves again and again that this isn’t true.
“That’s what management wants everyone to believe, but history proves again and again that this isn’t true.”
It’s actually true though. Getting into a AAA game company is extremely difficult. It took me a long time and a long of grueling work to get there. Because the competition is so strong, it’s akin to making it big in Hollywood.
The other thing is that most game devs, including myself, get into the industry because they have a passion for it. We love what we do and what we make. In order to have a successful union you have to be willing to go on strike. I can’t see game devs doing that. Doing so would hurt the end product because less time means less features and/or polish. Anyone who truly cares about their art wouldn’t do that. Every game dev I worked with has had a drive to create great games. It’s not just a job to us. And when we are on a project it is OUR project. What I mean by that is that it is our baby. It is akin to a movie to a director. But it’s different because we are one team working together and we understand that it is all of ours. Would we like residuals, absolutely. In fact, we used to get them in the early days. But things have changed. With competition being so strong, mixed with the fact that we wouldn’t be willing to sacrifice the quality of the product by striking, it makes it impossible.
But now you have voice actors coming in, who are relatively new to the industry, demanding residuals from our game as if they are more important than everyone else.
I’ve spoken with nearly every voice actor you would recognize from a AAA title. Not a single one of us believes that we are more important than anyone else.
And we’re not negotiating with developers. We’re negotiating (well, trying to negotiate) with publishers.
This isn’t about devs vs. actors.
@Wil: That’s not what management says. That’s what us as artists and programmers in the industry know as a fact due to how much our industry communicates and interacts. We are very aware of the huge pool of talent and people learning the field. Just because it has proven to be untrue for other fields in history, is not evidence that it will always be true. This industry is very unique and largely driven by people who are willing to go far above and beyond just to produce something great without making it cost an arm and a leg for the consumer.
“I’ve spoken with nearly every voice actor you would recognize from a AAA title. Not a single one of us believes that we are more important than anyone else.
And we’re not negotiating with developers. We’re negotiating (well, trying to negotiate) with publishers.
This isn’t about devs vs. actors.”
Will, that is great that you and the other actors think like that. But that is what you are indirectly saying. Maybe you don’t realize it, but you are. Where do you think that money is going to come from? It sure as hell isn’t coming from the CEO’s pay. It’s going to come from the developers pocket. So yes, you are indirectly saying that voice actors are so important that they should be given more money at the expense of developers.
And I don’t mean to be rude, but honestly, look at how much a voice actor contributes to a project. Do they really deserve residuals? My question is why? Why would anyone with such a small part in the project deserve residuals? We’re not talking about Kevin Spacey in Cod here. We’re talking about your average nobody who doesn’t bring anything to the table besides a few voice recordings. If you are going to get residuals, you better be bringing more to the table,. You better be a driving force in sales.
Video games are such an extremely different medium than film. People don’t play them for the acting, they play them for the gameplay. I feel as if you are trying to inject a level of importance into your role that just isn’t there and quite frankly, is undeserving.
You said it yourself, “It isn’t about the money”. Really? Then why make enemies over it? Why not remove that part from the equation and gain the support of the developers. I can guarantee that if it was removed, developers would support you 100% in the rest of the demands and that would go a long way towards getting what you want. But that won’t happen because in the end, it IS about the money.
“But that is what you are indirectly saying. Maybe you don’t realize it, but you are. Where do you think that money is going to come from? It sure as hell isn’t coming from the CEO’s pay. It’s going to come from the developers pocket.”
Actually, that isn’t at all what he was saying, and you are an imbecile. A game like GTA in its first two years makes about four billion dollars.
But since you (the apparent psychic) thinks that any residual payouts to VAs will come directly from the budgets of developers (which is just asinine, and shows that you don’t know jack shit about actual business practices that extend any further up the Dev chain than the head of engineering) you are standing there, yet again, crying that because you Devs are either too spineless or cowardly to try to negotiate a better life for yourselves that nobody else should have one either. You are literally defending the asshole who employs you and makes billions from your collective efforts by trying to drag down anybody else who stands up for themselves.
You are a petty, jealous, little stain.
You really do deserve to work long unpaid overtime hours to make somebody else rich.
Keep telling yourself that you’re a part of something great so you can feel like you aren’t wasting your life pushing another button.
“Then why make enemies over it?”
He wasn’t trying to make enemies, but sometimes, petty, jealous and greedy asshole enemies come out of the woodwork when they think that somebody else is trying to life themselves up, rather than direct their anger and childish frustration at the boss with his thumb planted on them.
S, Since you aren’t man enough to use your real name. You have some serious issues. You should consult a doctor. Do us all a favor and stay the fu*k out of our business and our industry. Go work in movies, oh wait, you can’t because your acting is probably shit.
“Actually, that isn’t at all what he was saying, and you are an imbecile. A game like GTA in its first two years makes about four billion dollars.”
What does the amount the game makes have anything to do with it? Can’t you see how fu*king retarded that sounds. You were hired to do a job, you got paid, end of story. Why is it that actors think they deserve more than that? Get off your high horse. Sorry, but you need a wakeup call. You’re not worth what you think you are. You don’t know what you think you know. and you’re quite frankly, a unintelligent clown who reads words off of a paper and thinks he’s a god.
“But since you (the apparent psychic) thinks that any residual payouts to VAs will come directly from the budgets of developers (which is just asinine, and shows that you don’t know jack shit about actual business practices that extend any further up the Dev chain than the head of engineering) you are standing there, yet again, crying that because you Devs are either too spineless or cowardly to try to negotiate a better life for yourselves that nobody else should have one either. You are literally defending the asshole who employs you and makes billions from your collective efforts by trying to drag down anybody else who stands up for themselves.”
You’re just digging yourself a hole buddy. You know how I know where the money will come from? Because it’s my fuc*king industry you idiot. I know how it works. Don’t talk shit about something you know nothing about. You are making a fool of yourself. For real.
“You really do deserve to work long unpaid overtime hours to make somebody else rich.
Keep telling yourself that you’re a part of something great so you can feel like you aren’t wasting your life pushing another button.”
Exactly my point. You are an immature diva who thinks they deserve more than they really do. I still haven’t heard one valid argument from you as to why you think VA DESERVE residuals. What is it about yourself that you think is so special?
Please do us all a favor and just give up on your fruitless career as an actor. It clearly ism’t going anywhere. And please stay out of the game industry, you clearly don’t belong here.
And just for the record, Wil’s image is rooted in (and tied directly to) one of the most successful television/movie franchises in history. It places him into a category of value far above and beyond you and your pathetic, cowardly, ilk. Yes, his face and name are worth far more than your average actor, and frankly, very much deserving of a level of importance that far exceeds your own.
And that’s really why your so angry. This is what the relatively humble Wheaton gets for making himself accessible to asshats like you.
Your life would improve significantly if you worried more about whats in your own pockets and less about what was in other people’s pockets, liberal. At the very least, you should re-direct your anger at the mirror, because you control your own paycheck. At some point you will grow up and learn some very adult lessons, or you will simply push those same buttons for the rest of your life, until the squeeze you out in your early 50s to make room for some hip, younger blood.
“This isn’t about devs vs. actors.”
But Will, look at all the comments from actors on here. They all claim to be “creative force” behind the games. They seem to think they the stars of the game. You see people making comments like “But the voice actor, without whom your game is unplayable in this day and age, should be satisfied with a session fee?” Unplayable? really?
That type of diva attitude might fly in Hollywood, but we aren’t gonna put up with shit like that in game development. You want to be part of the team, great. Then be part of the TEAM. That’s what makes you a game dev. I can tell you that there are no other departments that share that diva attitude. You don’t have designers saying their work is what defines the game. You don’t have engineers saying their code is what IS the game. Game development is a very team based atmosphere. We all work together and support one another. You can’t come into our house with a diva attitude like that and expect to be welcomed to the team with open arms. (Not you specifically)
“But Will, look at all the comments from actors on here. They all claim to be “creative force” behind the games. ”
No, fucktard, no actor has said any such thing. YOU have said that, over and over, inserting words into other people’s arguments that they never said. The number of times you used the phrase “is essentially what you’re saying” or “basically what you’re saying” which is basically, your twsting of a dialogue into your own personal jealousy diatribe.
Actually, YOU said that S. Now you want to pretend you didn’t.
“Then perhaps they SHOULD unionize in some of those cases. The non-creatives seem to have a seriously askew vision of what makes a product successful…here’s a hint: “creativity”. You got it, or you don’t, and if you don’t, all the programming, design, writing and QA on earth won’t help you. Marketing might, because marketing is based on creativity, but eventually a customer will get hands-on and the product will suck or not. But as for the rest, most of them don’t make the game great. The creatives do.”
“No, I’m not, but I recognize the part they contribute as being creative and as lending inherent value to the whole, more value than a number-cruncher or run-of-the-mill tech. ”
Who are these “creatives” that you speak of. Because I was under the assumption that we were talking about voice actors. You’re going ton tell me you weren’t?
“I would LOVE to hear your explanations to how PARC makes creative products. Please, enlighten us.”
Actually, Einstein, it was the creativity of PARC that gave you the mouse you are using to interface with your computer and the UI your computer is using right now. Not to mention a fair amount of the UI thats built into your smartphone. but don’t let that stop you from pontificating some more about all the things you know about a place you’ve never been.
“Actually, Einstein, it was the creativity of PARC that gave you the mouse you are using to interface with your computer and the UI your computer is using right now. Not to mention a fair amount of the UI thats built into your smartphone. but don’t let that stop you from pontificating some more about all the things you know about a place you’ve never been.”
You clearly have no clue what it means to develop creative products. We’re talking about entertainment here..lol You are so off course it’s ridiculous. Please sit down until you have some experience
Because they have the entitlement mentality, and are so completely jealous that there are those in this world that are more successful than them. Progressives are quite honestly a disease in ideology.
The real disease in ideology is putting a large group of people in a “Them” box and writing off everything they say with offhanded reductionism.
I think you’ll find that “entitlement mentality” is less prevalent in the real world than you believe, at least among the people you’re ascribing it to.
“So yeah its physically demanding, but it’s not like you’re so wrecked you can’t go out and do other work.” Really? Because in my experience as a voice actor, that’s Not always true. Vocal strain is a real issue. It can be debilitating. I read your post with an open mind, wanting to understand your side of things and I even thought you made some ok arguments. But this line alone made me realize how little you understand about the work we do. You also appear to be judging All actors by the bad work ethic of a few. And, for us, it is all about the acting – if it weren’t you wouldn’t get good performances from us. You talk like video games are different because of the amount of other work that goes into them, look at the credits for a film some time and tell me there isn’t a ton of other work that goes into them besides the acting.
You’re absolutely right. Out of curiosity, how many of then get residuals? (Serious question)
Or, one might ask, how much in the way of residuals did the carpenters and electricians get on the last film contract? Unionized all, and often doing hazardous work. I’m willing to bet it’s the same amount that the extras received – zero.
I’m also somebody on the other side, but I’ve jumped the fence, and since I have perspective from both sides, I have a bone to pick with your contentious statement here:
“You’re asking for something that nobody else in the industry gets.”
1.) And your point is? Everybody else does it so you have to do it too? I think not. Fox Film said that same thing to me once over some publishing rights for a song I had in a motion picture and I told them to f— off. “Nobody in the industry gets that” they said. I told them “I don’t care what anybody else does, this is how I do it, and if you don’t want to do it this way, then pull the song.” They didn’t, and I found out later, from my attorney, that
2.) “lots of people in the industry do a variety of things, because every deal is unique, but the greedy a-holes up top will ALWAYS tell you “nobody else in the industry gets that”.
That phrase burns my ass, because its always spoken by somebody who made a lot of money taking advantage of somebody else.
“Programmers, designers, writers, QA, marketing, sales, none of those people get residuals. None of these guys have unions, so this isn’t a situation where our side us going to use you getting residuals as a wedge to start getting us residuals.”
Then perhaps they SHOULD unionize in some of those cases. The non-creatives seem to have a seriously askew vision of what makes a product successful…here’s a hint: “creativity”. You got it, or you don’t, and if you don’t, all the programming, design, writing and QA on earth won’t help you. Marketing might, because marketing is based on creativity, but eventually a customer will get hands-on and the product will suck or not. But as for the rest, most of them don’t make the game great. The creatives do.
And if I were you, Will, I’d stop doing games. Let this guy go find b-level talent to read magazines and whine through his sessions and sound half-assed while he has conversations with his directors that really should have happened during pre-production. I don’t ever walk into a studio not knowing exactly how I want every word to flow. You’re just pissing somebody else’s money away if you don’t.
When enough of you actors stand up for yourselves and guys like this are forced to start scraping the bottom of the barrel for talent, then “the industry” will change.
And, FWIW, residuals WILL happen. Its just a matter of time. I’ll be happy to pay them and I’ll be happy to collect a few for myself. And I’ll be super happy to see guys with real creativity stop getting screwed by a bunch of uncreative suits.
“The non-creatives seem to have a seriously askew vision of what makes a product successful…here’s a hint: “creativity”. You got it, or you don’t, and if you don’t, all the programming, design, writing and QA on earth won’t help you. Marketing might, because marketing is based on creativity, but eventually a customer will get hands-on and the product will suck or not. But as for the rest, most of them don’t make the game great. The creatives do.”
But see there’s a couple things wrong here with this. First, these creatives you speak of are called game designers. They are the people who balance the game and make it fun. Voice Actors are not the creatives of a game. This right here shows that you are talking major b.s. and have no idea how a game gets made.
Secondly, have you ever played a game with shitty programming? I have, and you know what, it ruins the experience completely. It takes a fun game and can make it unplayable. The programming literally IS the game.
Now, have you ever played a game with shitty VA? I have, and it didn’t ruin the game for me. Most of the time, just like most people, I just skip the cutscenes anyway.
My point is, shitty VA can lower the quality of a game, but not ruin a game or render it unplayable. You can’t say the same for programming, and especially for designers. You’re talking as if the voice actors are the stars of the product when they are really just a small part. In fact the voice acting is probably the only part of the game you can completely remove and still have a solid, enjoyable game. You can’t say that about any other aspect of game development. What does that tell you?
Look at pretty much any Nintendo game. None of them have VA. Guess what? They are hugely successful. VA weren’t even used much in games until relatively recently. Game devs have been making great games way before we had the technology to include such features. Now they come into OUR business acting like it is theirs. Like they are the stars and deserve residuals. For what?
They will never get residuals until game devs get them first. Plain and simple. And even if that were to happen, they damn well better receive a fraction of what a game dev gets. They already get paid VERY well for their work. All I hear from them right now is fairness this and fairness that. A VA can make more in a few sessions than an engineer will in a year of hard work with no overtime pay. Please explain this fairness to me.What part of that is not fair to the VA?
Did you ever think that maybe, just maybe, you’re giving a little TOO much credit to the VA’s? Put the amount they contribute to the project in perspective of any other game dev. Their contribution is a fraction of that. And I’m sorry, the VA’s work is not what sells games. It’s not what makes a game great. It’s just not. This isn’t a movie or a TV show where acting is the main focus of the product. This is a game. The cutscenes are usually just a facet to introduce the next are or level of a game. I realize you have an extremely bias position, but how you cannot see that is beyond me. In the grand scheme of things, the VA has about as much contribution to a game as an extra has to a movie. Sorry to let you down, but someones got to take you off that high horse. I’m not intentionally trying to be cruel, but this is simply the truth.
The only reason VA’s THINK they deserve residuals if
An over inflated ego
No knowledge of how a game is actually made
It’s that simple
I call BS. I can’t STAND games with shitty voice acting. It ruins the whole thing for me, and makes the entire game seem that much more cheesy and cheap.
But see, that’s you. And I’m going to guess you are an actor? When it is in your field you tend to notice these things more. You have to look at it as a whole, and 90% of gamers would agree. I also love aa great story and good acting, but I’m also in the minority. I’ve been involved in focus test about this and every time we get the same result. Almost every colleague and friend of mine skip the cutscenes.
Voice acting is JUST the cutscenes, though. Do you think all of the other voices in a game just appear out of the aether, with no living person having to say the lines? ALL the voices in a game are voice acting, and- as I said previously- shitty voice acting makes the entire game seem cheesy and cheap.
“Voice acting is JUST the cutscenes, though. Do you think all of the other voices in a game just appear out of the aether, with no living person having to say the lines? ALL the voices in a game are voice acting, and- as I said previously- shitty voice acting makes the entire game seem cheesy and cheap.”
Nobody is saying that they don’t improve the game, but do they improve it enough to warrant part ownership of the product, which residuals basically are?
Can you honestly say they are THAT important? If you were starting your own startup indie game studio, would you really be ok with giving away residuals just for the voice over work? Would you give everyone in your studio residuals?
I’d give everybody residuals, and I’d give game creators a little more than everybody else. But I would never, ever, hire an asshole like you, John.
There’s a couple of things wrong, all right, Lets start with the first one:
1.) I didn’t say the VA were the only creatives in the game. You twisted that.
2.) “talking major b.s. and have no idea how a game gets made…”
I was a Senior Engineer for 7 years at a tech company. I know EVERYTHING about how a game gets made. I also know how the hardware and software are developed, manufactured, and I know how they’re marketed, distributed and lots of other things that more than qualify me to speak about the topic.
Oh yes, I played LOTS of games with shitty programming. I tested a fair number of them at various points.
The programming means jack diddley squat, frankly. A programmer, unless he or she is the initial developer/creator, simply follows instructions. They code what they are told to code.
3.) “You’re talking as if the voice actors are the stars of the product when they are really just a small part.”
No, I’m not, but I recognize the part they contribute as being creative and as lending inherent value to the whole, more value than a number-cruncher or run-of-the-mill tech. And the term “residuals” doesn’t mean “a dollar a unit for every game sold.” And such residuals would not last forever, since the games eventually go out of style and stop selling. There is no “syndication” market for old video games.
“In fact the voice acting is probably the only part of the game you can completely remove and still have a solid, enjoyable game. You can’t say that about any other aspect of game development. What does that tell you?”
That tells me that you don’t have a creative bone in your body. There is only one thing that makes anything compelling in this world: the story.
If the story isn’t interesting, then nobody gives a shit. Sure, there’s people, myself included, who like to blow off steam from time to time by running and killing online, but what makes anything compelling is story, and without it, you have no book, no movie, no article, and no game.
Every creative facet of what tells that story and makes it compelling has intrinsic value.
4.) “Look at pretty much any Nintendo game. None of them have VA. Guess what? They are hugely successful. VA weren’t even used much in games until relatively recently. Game devs have been making great games way before we had the technology to include such features.”
But they all had a story, didn’t they? And they were new at the time, weren’t they? And people eventually tired of them and stopped buying them, DIDN’T THEY? And then Devs had to up their game to stay interesting, so they developed cut scenes, and plot devices and stories, and rather than use bob from accounting, they hired professional actors. Well, pay them. Its not like they can’t afford to.
Your argument has been that since Devs don’t get residuals, then VA shouldn’t either, or VA should at least not get them until the Devs do.
Your whole premise is based on jealously that somebody else might be trying to get more than you’re getting, and greed that you aren’t getting it too. Jealousy and Greed? Thats not an argument premise, that’s an emotional outburst.
And if any engineer is working overtime without pay, the way so many of you keep complaining, then you have nobody to blame but the mirror. Stop doing it. There are laws in place to protect you from such things. Is it the VA’s fault that you worked overtime without pay? No, it isn’t. Then leave that ridiculous argument and anti-logic at the door, it has no business here except to try to generate false sympathy for your weak and ineffective argument….the one that’s rooted entirely in Jealousy and Greed.
I’m not trying to be cruel, this is simply the truth.
1.) I didn’t say the VA were the only creatives in the game. You twisted that.
bull shit…don’t try to backtrack now. You may not of directly said that, but that is exactly what you were insinuating. This is a discussion about VA’s…but now you want to say you weren’t taking about them.
“I was a Senior Engineer for 7 years at a tech company.”
Is that a joke? A tech company? That doesn’t qualify you for shit. Unlike you I actually make GAMES. AAA GAMES. And I have been for over ten years. See, this is how I can tell you have no idea what you’re talking about.
“But they all had a story, didn’t they?”
Yes, that was my point. They all had a story with NO VOICE ACTORS! Do you get it?
“They are hugely successful.”
Tank you…that is my point. You CAN have a hugely successful game WITHOUT voice actors. You CAN’T have a hugely successful game without good designers and engineers.
“That tells me that you don’t have a creative bone in your body.”
No I don’t. I don’t know why you insinuate that is a bad thing? I would much rather be intelligent then creative.
“There is only one thing that makes anything compelling in this world: the story.”
You obviously aren’t familiar with the game industry then. Go back to Hollywood. You sound like a diva.
“Your argument has been that since Devs don’t get residuals, then VA shouldn’t either, or VA should at least not get them until the Devs do.”
You’re damn straight.
” Jealousy and Greed? Thats not an argument premise, that’s an emotional outburst.”
First, where do you think that money is going to come from? You think the CEO’s pay? No, it’s going to come straight out of the budget, which means less money for developers. So when you’re trying to take something from me when you don’t deserve it I’m going to put you in your place.
Second, that is your EXACT argument. That is all the voice actors exact argument. And no, that wasn’t the only argument I had. IF voice actors WERE the driving force of the game. IF voice actors WERE the selling point of the game. Then you would have an argument. But they are not. I only can think of a handful of games where the voice actors role is a prominent part. It’s not common.
“And if any engineer is working overtime without pay, the way so many of you keep complaining, then you have nobody to blame but the mirror. Stop doing it.”
And if any VA feels they are being treated unfairly STOP DOING IT. See how that works? There are PLENTY of non union actors ready and willing to do he job. Oh, let me guess, being in the union makes you a better actor?
“I’m not trying to be cruel, this is simply the truth.”
Judging by your comments, you clearly have 0 experience in the industry. You worked at a “tech” company, was that a joke? You obviously have no idea what the “truth” is.
“The programming means jack diddley squat, frankly. A programmer, unless he or she is the initial developer/creator, simply follows instructions. They code what they are told to code.”
This right here shows you have absolutely no knowledge of what goes into making a game. This had me laughing for a while. How utterly ignorant can you be? I mean really. It’s almost to the point where it sounds like you’re being facetious, but you’re not. It’s sad really.
“No, I’m not, but I recognize the part they contribute as being creative and as lending inherent value to the whole”
I agree, they do contribute o the project as a whole. Just not enough to warrant residuals from the project.
“more value than a number-cruncher or run-of-the-mill tech.”
More than a tech? Maybe, depends of the game. More than a game dev (engineer, designer, artist) not even close. Not even close to being close.
In the end, there’s really only one argument to be made. Can you make a great, successful game without voice actors? YES. Can you make a great, successful game without game developers. NO. You can’t even make a shitty game that sells one copy without them.
Be careful, because once that over inflated ego pops, it’s going to be a long way down
John, you are an uncreative button-pusher. That much has been established.
The word “ego” is used six times on this page, five by you and once by me to quote you. You’re projecting.
Yes, I was a “senior engineer” for a publicly traded technology company. I was deliberately vague because I don’t have an “ego” and because I do value my privacy. Your company could not make its games without my company’s products. And btw, I left a job at PARC to work there more than ten years ago.
Yes, do tell me more about how much I don’t know, John. You buffoon.
Wow, you really have no clue do you. You seem to have some pent up aggression as well. You should see someone about that.
Working at PARC(or any tech company) would give you 0 experience making a game you moron. 0! I can’t express that enough. There’s a huge difference between the technology industry and the game industry. Yes, one relies on the other, but they are lightyears apart when it comes to development. You said it so many times and I don’t even think you realize it. Game development IS a creative medium. PARC is not. They are two different worlds, and if anyone is projecting, it is you. Giving someone residuals for contributing literally less than .01% of the product is insane. You have to be an egotistical maniac to believe otherwise. Oops, I said it again. We’re not talking about Kevin Spacey in Cod here. We’re talking about your average no name. If you want to demand residuals you need to be bringing a lot more to the table than just voice recordings.
Your eagerness to label me as an “uncreative button-pusher” only proves my point. As if the only people who matter are creative people. The creative people should be getting all and everything, is that your ideal world? Why is it in you’re opinion that it is ok to hire an engineer and pay him for his work, but if you’re “creative” you should get hired, get paid AND get a piece of the action as if it is your project.
This isn’t Hollywood, and we don’t have any plans to be Hollywood. If you don’t like it than don’t take the job. We won’t have trouble finding someone who will do the job just as good. Actors are a dime a dozen and. I’m not sure why you seem to think they are some gift to god, especially if you were an engineer as you say. Which I seriously doubt. Judging by the emotional response you have towards “uncreative Button Pushers”. That coupled with the obvious lack of knowledge of how software gets developed leads me to believe you are in fact an actor. A bad one at that considering you can’t even be convincing through text.
No he’s quite right, you clearly have zero idea what goes into game development and how creative even coders often need to be to get the desired end result in aspects people take for granted, like AI. I’m sorry some diva hollywood actor who thinks they deserve residuals or royalties from a game they spent maybe an entire week if that of involvement with? Yeah you’re batshit fucking crazy. Same goes for Wheaton, you know the guy that couldn’t even be bothered to learn the rules to board games on tabletop and blamed a producer on the show for not educating HIM and the D listers he’s playing with on the rules of the games they play. That’s the mentality of you people, 1. you’re entitled 2. when something goes wrong it’s always someone else’s fault.
Lots of people matter, John, but the creativity is where the ideas come from, and I weigh that with greater consideration and respect than an uncreative button-pusher. Of COURSE I do. I recognize where the ideas come from. They are what drives everything.
But when you suggest that I think the creatives should “get everything and the button pushers nothing”, you demonstrate yourself to be incredibly immature and…sort of an asshat. I never said any such thing, this has been a debate about residuals for actors, and yet you, the uncreative, non voice actor marched in to stick your hands into everybody else’s pockets and bitch and complain that somebody in a creative position is worth less than you.
PARC is not creative? LOL, Are you retarded? You must be retarded. No, wait, tell me all about PARC, John. Really. I can’t wait to hear about the place I worked from somebody who never set foot inside of it. Sure. YOU know all about it.
Seriously, just piss off now. This is getting ridiculous.
“Lots of people matter, John, but the creativity is where the ideas come from, and I weigh that with greater consideration and respect than an uncreative button-pusher. Of COURSE I do. I recognize where the ideas come from. They are what drives everything.”
THIS IS MY FUCKING POINT. How much of and idiot can you be? Voice Actors are NOT, i repeat NOT the creative force behind video games. Not even in the slightest sense. It is 100% the game designers. 100 fucking percent. How hard is that to understand? I’m sorry if it hurts your feelings, but your voice acting doesn’t mean shit. If ANYBODY should be given credit, it is them, not you. DO you get it yet? Saying otherwise is like the lighting crew saying they are the creative force behind a movie. I’m pretty sure the writer/director would have something to say about that.
“PARC is not creative? LOL, Are you retarded? You must be retarded. No, wait, tell me all about PARC, John. Really. I can’t wait to hear about the place I worked from somebody who never set foot inside of it. Sure. YOU know all about it.”
You are seriously showing how uneducated you are in this area. I’m really starting to doubt you worked there. PARC is a tech company, A TECH COMPANY. They make TECH, not creative products. If you EVER had a job in either field you would know the difference. To any person with the slightest of experience you would sound like a moron. Really, you’re completely out of your element here.How can you even be involved in this debate if you can’t tell the difference from a tech company and creative development? You’re a joke and I’m sure even the people on the actors side would be telling you to shut up by now because you’re making them look bad. I would LOVE to hear your explanations to how PARC makes creative products. Please, enlighten us.
You’re pulling at strings, trying to make an argument when you don’t have one. Plain and simple. You’re making a fool of yourself and your so oblivious you don’t even realize it.
“and yet you, the uncreative, non voice actor marched in to stick your hands into everybody else’s pockets and bitch and complain that somebody in a creative position is worth less than you.”
This is what I’m talking about. You have it so fucking backwards it’s a joke. How am I sticking my hands in other people pockets? Are you high? It’s YOU and the other “creatives” and you put them trying to extort extra money from us. YOU are sticking your hands in our pockets. How can you possibly try to flip it around? You have to be behold self indulged to see it that way. Let me explain it in terms that a 5 year old would understand…because clearly you’re having trouble seeing past your own lust for self worth.
We game developers hire you actors to do a job. You get paid well….very well. In fact, you usually get more in a few weeks than most get in a year. That’s ok, nobodies trying to take that away from you. Now you’re getting together and saying that’s not enough. We want more. gimme, gimme, gimme. Oh, it’s going to hurt the developers? I don’t care. gimme, gimme. It’s going to end up coming out of their pockets? I don’t care, I want more. Can you not see the selfish greed in that?
Get a fucking clue. You’re a joke, end of story.
you fucking jackass, you work for a TECH company. You think its a creative company because you make games?? Wrong, asshat. Its a TECH company. No wonder you’re so goddamned stupid. What a fucking colossal waste of time.
“you fucking jackass, you work for a TECH company. You think its a creative company because you make games?? Wrong, asshat. Its a TECH company. No wonder you’re so goddamned stupid. What a fucking colossal waste of time.”
You continue to prove my point again and again. People who actually make games know the difference. People like you do not. So please don’t try to talk as if you know what you’re talking about. That one comment alone was one of the most absurd statements I’ve ever heard. Not only that, but it is a huge insult to the industry as a whole. What we do is art, if you don’t believe so, then move on, don’t be a part of it. You seem to be under the impression that we are all “button pushers” as you put it and that all the creativity comes from the freelance actors we hire? You’re insane. I don’t even think other actors would agree with you at this point.
and you’re right, major waste of time. Some fu*k tard actor trying to pretend he has any clue about what is involved in game development. Trying to pretend he does by saying he worked at PARC, which is a joke in itself. You clearly picked some random tech company and said, “Oh, I worked here”. “I was a senior engineer you button pushing number cruncher”. hahahaha. Do you not see how ironic that is? You dug yourself a hole, have fun trying to get out loser
“You seem to be under the impression that we are all “button pushers” as you put it and that all the creativity comes from the freelance actors we hire? You’re insane. I don’t even think other actors would agree with you at this point.”
You keep insisting that I said something I never said. You don’t read well, and you inject context and meaning where none exists. I don’t wonder why you can’t get any further than you have…and why you’re so concerned with other people’s money.
“You have it so fucking backwards it’s a joke. How am I sticking my hands in other people pockets? Are you high? It’s YOU and the other “creatives” and you put them trying to extort extra money from us. ”
I’m not an actor, you fucking buffoon, I’m a director who hires them. I said so in the beginning. Your reading comprehension skills are pretty lacking. But again, don’t let that stop you from pontificating….
“Get a fucking clue. You’re a joke, end of story.”
If you don’t write the checks that pay for the games, this isn’t your argument. End of story.
Quick, somebody tell TellTale that the voice actors contribute 0% to their products.
“I’m not an actor, you fucking buffoon, I’m a director who hires them. I said so in the beginning. Your reading comprehension skills are pretty lacking. But again, don’t let that stop you from pontificating….”
Yeah, you also said you used to be a senior engineer. And half decent engineer can see right through that bullshit. But what do I know, I’m just a “button pushing number cruncher”
You guys, I’ve done my best to just let you talk to each other, but you’ve gotten to a point where you’ve made your points, established that you’re not going to agree on anything, and now you’re just having an extended fight on the Internet. If you want to have an actual discussion, by all means do that. But if you’re just going to keep trying to get in the last punch, I have to ask you both to stop.
The point you make here is invalid simply because this is not a programmers vs. voice actors debate.
Everyone has the right to negotiate their own terms. It just so happens developers gave up on residuals ages ago.
That being said I think we (developers) should take some hints from SAG. Stress on our biological tools is real, and treating them all like the muscles used to lift boxes is incorrect. The medical industry has separate specialties for ENT, Psychology, and Orthopedics for good reason, they all repair differently. Recommendations from such medical professionals should be taken into account regarding stress.
Developers, QA, & Testers are often driven to unreasonable limits mentally to finish tasks on deadline. Endless sleepless nights and/or weekends, often “not required, but encouraged” lead to damage. We’ve all been there.
“Everyone has the right to negotiate their own terms. It just so happens developers gave up on residuals ages ago.”
But see, we didn’t. Developers have been trying to get residuals for years. We don’t have a union though. And please don’t say “that’s not our fault, go form one”. Comments like that are what is pissing off devs. Like it’s that easy.
“The point you make here is invalid simply because this is not a programmers vs. voice actors debate.”
So if someone comes along who is far less deserving than you and gets residuals just because they have a Union, how can you not expect them to be upset? Voice actors do great work, but face it, they aren’t what make a game. It’s not the same as a movie or TV where acting is the main focus. THAT is the point I am making. It is simply undeserved. They deserve fair pay for fair work. They deserve a safe work environment. They deserve not to worry about being fined. They DON’T deserve residuals. That’s just being greedy. Nobodies trying to say “don’t give them what they deserve because we aren’t getting that”. We’re saying, “don’t give them something they DON’T deserve at the expense of developers”
“But see, we didn’t. Developers have been trying to get residuals for years. We don’t have a union though. And please don’t say “that’s not our fault, go form one”. Comments like that are what is pissing off devs. Like it’s that easy.”
But see, it IS exactly that easy. You make a phone call to an organized union and invite them to come to your workplace and give a talk about the benefits of unionizing.
It is LITERALLY that simple.
In fact, it probably requires ten times as much energy to come here and piss and moan at the VAs that you’re jealous of than it would take to invite a union to your workplace.
So, there must be some other reason that you don’t want anybody else getting ahead…hmm….what could it be….
“Look at pretty much any Nintendo game. None of them have VA.”
Quick, someone tell Charles Martinet he’s never done VA for Mario.
1) I didn’t say every game, I said pretty much any
2) the VS in Mario is so minor and post processed I don’t even know if I’d count it. It’s more like sound effects made with his voice. We’re talking about a few short lines. Do you think such a performance should wasn’t residuals? At what point, in your opinion, should residuals come into play?
All major Nintendo titles have used VAs for years. Just because they’re not doing large amounts of dialogue doesn’t mean they’re not working as a voice actor.
Charles Martinet has done twenty or so voices in probably over twenty odd games. While yes there are a lot of sound effects, they’re not easy to do, and he’s done the voices of characters that actually speak and have dialogue. You’re severely denigrating the man’s work. And yes, I believe he deserves some residual from the millions of games sold with his work. He IS Mario at this point.
But you’re dropping back to the least part of Wil’s argument, anyway. It’s not about the residuals. It’s about everything else.
I had a feeling the games you make were terrible even before I googled your name, but it’s only been confirmed. I really, really hate things like GTA. I need a good story and compelling characters. Plus, I can’t stand all the violence, misogyny, and animal abuse.
As if I needed an excuse, I will not be spending a cent on Rockstar games ever. Your entire philosophy towards games is disgusting.
BTW, I frequently buy games featuring cool voice actors because I look forward to seeing how well they play their roles. I’m rarely disappointed. I support this strike 110%.
Just an aside; GTA has oodles of dialogue and loads of voice actors. If there was ever a case for game voice actors getting residuals, GTA would be it.
I really have enjoyed reading your responses, and share a lot of the same opinions as you. It’s amazing how quickly and negative people can get when they don’t share your opinion. It just makes you look that much better.
WB, Activision, Ubisoft and EA treat their customers like cashcows so i’m surprised they try to nickel and dime the voice actors as well
just remember how Bungies subpar work made a great Actor sound really bad
argh can’t edit comment that is ofc supposed to mean “not surprised”
But they don’t, that’s the problem with this argument. Most of them will walk away with six figures for at most a couple weeks work. Now on top of that they are crying for residuals. Can you see why that would look greedy?
Can you cite a source for this assertion?
I can only speak to what I’ve experienced. I’ve been in the industry for over ten years and this is what I’ve seen. I was working on very large budget games of course, so it might not apply to all voice actors…I’m sure it doesn’t. But just look at how much the actors in Halo 5 are making. http://www.voiceovertimes.com/2008/02/02/actors-score-500k-for-video-game-voice-overs/
I don’t believe for a second that any of them are underpaid.
Another example that I’m more familiar with is Michael Hollick who voices Niko in GTA IV. He was paid over 6 figures yet made a big fuss over not receiving residuals. His work was over the course of 15 months, but that was only a couple days a month.
You have to realize that the voice actors, while adding a certain level of polish and quality to a game, are usually a very small part of the project compared to any other department. You can have a hugely successful game without a single line of voice over. Games have been doing it for years. Why? Because players don’t play games for the voices. Plain and simple. It’s not what sells games and it’s not why players play them. It improves the quality, sure. But the acting is not the driving force, unlike film and tv.
IF a voice actor is not getting paid well enough, I have no problem with them asking for more money. I’m sure any developer wouldn’t either. You absolutely deserve six figures if you’re doing a big budget AAA game. Demanding residuals is not cool though. Not only does it indirectly insult developers, but it is not deserving in any way, in my opinion. You deserve to get paid appropriately, You do not deserve a piece of the pie for such a small contribution.
Again, if it’s “not bout the money” and you know that you are insulting game devs by asking for residuals, then why have that in there? Why not remove it and get the game devs on your side. I know any game dev, including myself, would fight along side you with that. But having that in there is just going to make enemies and honestly, I can’t see you guys winning this without the support of the game devs.
Maybe this is a stupid question, but here it is anyway: If voice actors “win” the rights to residuals, wouldn’t that give the devs a huge advantage in their own negotiations?
“Hey, voice actors have won residuals in their contracts. There wouldn’t be a game to voice if it wasn’t for us (developers). If you have agreed that voice actors are deserving of this, you have no ground to stand on in our negotiations. We also deserve residuals.”
If devs were to support the voice actors, wouldn’t the voice actors support the devs?
In response to iwishidknown;-
I don’t think so, at least not in my experience. As a salaried employee and not a contractor, you can’t very well re-negotiate your contract. And if you’re going for a new job and try to wrangle it, you’ll be pushed aside for somebody else.
Assuming you’re a publisher owned studio as most AAA+ devs tend to be these days, paying out cash to VO artists will be used as an excuse for NOT paying royalty rates to the development staff. “Hey, we’d sure love to reward you for all the 100 hour weeks you put in, but as it is, we already have to pay out to the voice actors”.
Dev staff first, then we can decide what rate we can afford for VO artist residuals.
Wow. That’s some myopic asshattedness. I wish y’all luck with the negotiations. I’d like to think that once the reasonable people sit at the table, it’ll all work out with a few “duh”s and forehead smacks. But, I won’t hold my breath.
I have a few questions, mostly related to Hollywood. Is there a difference between residuals and royalties? Is the residual/royalty structure for movies different from television? For an average movie/television show, who exactly gets residuals/royalties? It’s clear that actors do, but what about other people? The cameramen? The grips? The director? Sound engineers? Foley artists? Special effects houses? If a certain class of workers don’t get residuals/royalties, why? Just down to how the union negotiated the contract? Historical reasons?
Another question, this time about voice acting vs acting. I get that overworking your voice can damage it, but how different is voice acting from regular acting? If you can only work two hours per session as a voice actor, how can a director get away with 50 takes for a scene? (I’ve heard that Kubrick was famous for doing this) Are the voice demands that different between the two?
Royalties are when there is already an artistic piece that has been made, and people pay money to use it (this applies more to theatrical productions than anything else – royalties go to the writers who wrote the play so that the play can be performed for a profit legally without snubbing the writer). Residuals are when artists contribute their art to a project and is the back pay when the project becomes successful (TV show reruns are an example of this: actors to this day who were in 80’s/90’s sitcoms get a little piece of the pie every time it airs on a network).
Voice acting is basically like doing a monologue for hours on end, and often includes large changes in inflection, modulation, volume, accent/dialect, and so on. It’s the actor and a microphone in a studio, and the ONLY tool the actor has at her disposal is her voice.
Film acting, by contrast, is almost always multiple people, so your voice isn’t constantly “on,” and take after take still involves some down time as cameras are reset, lighting is adjusted, and actors go back to their first blocks. Additionally, on film an actor has the entire range of nonverbal cues at her disposal, so the voice doesn’t have to be worked quite as much.
Here’s an example. Suppose a character has to say “We can reschedule your appointment, no problem” in a nonchalant manner. In film, it’s easy to tell the character who really doesn’t have a problem from the one who is pissed off and trying very hard not to show it. In voice acting, that has to be demonstrated by voice ALONE, and that’s hard. (“OK, try it again, and this time I want it a little more pissed off but still totally cool. ACTION!”) (I don’t know if voice directors really say “ACTION!”) And because it’s harder and has to be exactly right, you’re probably doing six or seven or twelve takes of that one line to make sure it’s good.
A lot of acting is purely non-verbal, allowing the actor to use his/her body, facial expression, and “sub-text” to convey their story, and react off other characters. They might also speak to compliment or drive their physical action, or not. Voice acting uses -only- the voice to convey -everything-. It’s quite taxing.
While I’m normally supportive of unions asserting labor’s rights through strikes, SAG-AFTRA is one union that I’d have no problem ignoring. This is especially true when it comes to voice work for video games. I’ve seen absolutely NO action from SAG-AFTRA to try and unionize the rest of the staff in companies’ where they represent talent. If you are not talent, or a “stage hand” management can screw you over, and SAG-AFTRA will tell you to pound sand. When I see SAG-AFTRA demand that companies that use its talent do their technical support in America, with unionized staff, only then will I consider SAG-AFTRA to be an actual LABOR union.
The thing about this, though, is that federal labor law prevents SAG (or any union) from organizing other people who aren’t eligible for membership in that union. We can’t organize tech support workers any more than the pipefitter’s union can, because it’s against the law.
You could include clauses in your standard contract language that require the employer to be an all-union shop, though.
You wouldn’t get them through the negotiations, but it wouldn’t hurt to ask.
I always find it interesting (okay, not interesting so much as “annoying”) when people indicate that they are generally okay with the idea of unions (which is very big of them, she said sarcastically), but then they start talking about why they don’t like the specific union they happen to disapprove of at the moment. It’s usually for an anecdotal reason, “I heard about this one time when a union did this awful and unfair thing, so, yeah, we have to make sure unions aren’t allowed to do that again!”
In this case, however, it is because you don’t realize the powerful political forces against any and all union activity. The topmost executives and shareholders who do not want to share profits have, over time, worked to render unions less powerful–in this case, they’ve made it illegal for unions to diversify. Personally, I cannot conceive what possible reason was given to make it illegal for unions to branch out into unionizing other jobs–it would be as if we made it illegal for a corporation to diversify its holdings. I should not have to point out that the destruction of union strength is one of the top reasons we no longer have a middle class in the US.
My family was poor working class, living from paycheck to paycheck, until the day my father got a union job. Within three years, my parents were able to save enough money to buy a house. We went to restaurants. We bought clothing and new (used) cars, appliances, furniture, went on vacations, and eventually my parents were able to send me and my sister to college. We were able to do all the things that make a country’s economy go. All the things you cannot do if you don’t make a living wage. We became middle class with one union job.
Residuals are not unreasonable, and just because programmers etc. don’t get them now doesn’t mean they never got them. If you think that it’s unfair, then talk to your union about getting residuals for the work. If you don’t have a union, then you know why you don’t get residuals.
Except this isn’t a perfect world. The game industry is massively flooded with people who want to get in, so it’s impossible to start a union for programmers and artists because there are always others who are willing to take even shittier pay/conditions just to get a foot in the door, it’s ridiculously competitive. So when we see voice actors asking for residuals on a product that we put immensely more work into than they do, we take offense to that, especially when we have no option to even form a union.
Do you think that acting is less competitive?
“always others who are willing to take even shittier pay/conditions just to get a foot in the door” applies just as much to acting – look at all those people waiting tables and auditioning for their break!
Acting, like programming/art/game design, has a small number of stars and lots of ordinary folk just trying to keep going. Acting unions work because the stars will stick with them. So if you ever want to get a star – any star – you have to sign a union contract, and your whole game/movie/TV show now has to be all-union.
So why isn’t John Cormack unionising game development?
And if you’re unhappy not receiving residuals from video games, go work in movies. Can’t get a role in movies, be a better actor.
This made me angry on behalf of your industry. I’m a hairdresser from Detroit, and I can see that these conditions/demands are bad for all parties. How is it that the employers cannot?
Why would VO’s get bonuses and not everyone else? Regular workers often get bonuses by reaching sales goals, why not spread this amongst other industries? I feel like maybe people would put more care and effort into their work.
The 2 hour cap sounds a bit too little (given that regular actors have to use their voices AND look the part for a ridiculous amount of takes) but you could easily make it work by having different actors come in for 2 hour sprints on different times, each day. You’d get a less strained, more productive and happier employee (if that actor compromises to only doing your project on those days, otherwise there’s no point in it as they’ll just be tired either way from other projects).
Regarding the other conditions, I for sure would like to know what kind of project I’m getting involved in, I’d be horrified if I somehow ended up tied to a contract for a game with sexist/racist/xenophobic/ect remarks or inuendos.
And I think it goes without saying that motion caption actors should have the same support as regular actors.
I doubt you’ll get anything approved if you keep on forcing the residuals in every proposal though, like someone already said, no one is gonna give you benefits that the rest of the devs don’t have and aren’t asking for (though maybe they should). Get your priorities straight. When you’ve got the basics covered then go for the extras and hopefully you can unite with other unions (that form) and fight for residuals.
Those fines are ridiculous though -.-‘ if you don’t comply with your contract it’s one thing but because you missed an audition? Or because you’re on your phone? Simply make phones not allowed in the recording area and give the actors reasonable breaks to check it (emergencies don’t come up after working hours only).
Overall, why can’t we just be civilized and solidary?
Growing up in the part of the rust-belt that I did, I came away with what many would consider fairly negative views of unions. That said, I find I am fairly support of the union in this case.
I really don’t have strong feelings either way on this. It was nice to see the proposal being gated by sales the way it was. My predictions would that open/honest negotiation would setting on two bonus payments, one at 4 million copies and the other one at 8 million copies
Session/work-day length restrictions:
2 hours might be a bit much. would definitely depend on the job. Would suspect this to settle in around 4 hours post negotiations (again assuming both sides were engaging in open and honest negotiating processes)
Basic safety request. I don’t think anyone should have a problem with this. If studios don’t want to pay for a stunt coordinator, don’t ask your VAs to do MoCap. Simple.
I would expect some give and take back and forth on this one. Realistically, I would suspect a balance could be met on this one
No employer wants to have their employee show up late or putzing around. Especially, when there is a tight production schedule to maintain. Still, $2,500 seems steep. This strikes my as one person’s “anti-diva” idea. If the employer can find the VA for reasons, than the VA should be able to fine them every time the equipment is ready to go at the start of the session. Otherwise its like a doctor canceling your appointment if you are 5 minutes late, but give you no consideration if they are 30 minutes behind schedule
Proposed Agent Fine:
That’s the move of $%@$#!. Could be them trying to make the re-ratifying the previous contract look more palpable to the union
Proposal to hire their own employees:
I could see carving out an exemption for promo videos or some marketing material, but not full in-game VA.
I work for the government and I feel some of the resentment that the general public has. We have a good benefits package and would like to keep it that way. People vent their anger at what they perceive to be an overly generous package. I have to remind them that just about EVERYONE had a package like this in the not-too-distant past (when my career started in the 1970s as a junior programmer). they’re mad at government workers for still having those benefits instead of being mad at the companies that took them away over the course of the last 40 years.
Likewise I find myself thinking – if the voice actor’s recording goes onto a film’s soundtrack, he or she would get residuals. But because it’s a game – he or she doesn’t. And aren’t they trying to make games more cinematic?
So why are they getting mad at the performer who ISN’T getting the benefit that other performers get – and the only difference is that their performance is on a console instead of the big or small screen?
Probably for many of the reasons stated – that game VAs contribute much less to the game and are much more easily replaceable than the devs, and yet they are coming in with an entitlement mentality, demanding compensation far in excess of their contribution. It is very reasonable, under those circumstances, for the companies simply to say that they will cease to use SAG-AFTRA VAs.
I can only think of one clear advantage the union VAs have – since they tend to be working in the field, they are more likely to have their schedules and locations more conducive to the companies’ processes than non-union labor. If I were running such a company, I would probably prefer that – but only as long as the cost differential were reasonable. I suspect that proposals such as this make that no longer the case.
Best case scenario we start getting Japanese games with original audio instead of those lame VAs they put them in America.
Actually, it’s less of an entitlement thing, then demanding something that the devs should be forming a union and demanding for themselves. H***, given some of the horror stories of, say, EA devs I’ve heard, they do have the VA’s beat on damagingly stressful working conditions…
That would be nice, but you don’t seem to be aware of just how flooded the game dev employment market is. If we try to form a union, there are thousands of other kids coming up who will gladly take our places just to get their foot in the door. The developers have absolute power over us due to how in-demand this type of job is among today’s youth. It’s one of the “coolest” jobs you can have.
12 years ago it might have been possible, it’s a shame it never happened. But now it’s too late.
I’m fine with VA’s asking for better work conditions, but asking to take some of the pay that should be going to us, when they already make AMAZING money for the amount of hours work they do, is utterly offensive.
Interesting display of the pros and cons of unions.
Sans union: Voice actors have to work unsafe hours and hurt themselves. Companies try to lock you out of the business and force you to dance to their tune. (Really???)
With union: Able to demands compensation far in excess of the effort given.
If even half the stuff in the SAG-AFTRA email is true, then I support your vote to strike.
Very interesting. I hadn’t heard this before. As always, Wil: well said.
After recently completing ADR (re-recording actors lines) sessions for a horror film I know that the actors and their voices do start losing steam after 2 hours. Breaks help, but when you are shouting, screaming and simply emoting on every line (which you could do 10 times or more) it’s draining. I come from a software development background and I know that programmers work for hours on end. It is hard for most people who put in very long days at their job to understand why 4-5 hours of recording dialog is a lot. I get it. I also understand the production side wanting to get each part done as quickly as possible and stopping after 3 hrs is not optimal for efficiency. There’s times you have to push yourself and times you need to pull back.
As well as it was explained, I must base my opinion on my life experiences.
I have worked in telecommunications for over 15 years straight. As a salesperson, bill collector, and service rep. For more than 15 years I have spoken non stop into a microphone for 8-12 hours a day, 5-7 days a weeks. I have faked every single range of emotion and repeated the same lines over and over and over for hours on end for months at a time…not mere hours.
At no point was I ever paid the large amounts of a professional actor and clearly not for so few hours of work. I have suffered no permanent damage to my voice and have had to work through colds, flu, laryngitis, and even tonsillitis to make sure I brought money home to support my family. I have made far more than others and worked for far less than most in this field and I promise none of it came close to what actors are paid and despite what my union may have felt was fair pay I have NEVER voted to strike because I was simply doing my job.
Keeping all of this in mind I can break down my opinion as the following which is a conversation I have had with many people over the years who were in the same field as me:
This job, despite the stress of dealing with people and coming to terms (as a sales person) that you are a professional con artist, is a cushy job.
You get paid very well for the low amount of effort. The same applies to voice acting. If you put it in perspective you know its true. If I can feel that way for a non stop, no break speaking job that pays 10.50 an hour you will have a very difficult time convincing me of the difficulties of your field.
If you EVER work on a job that you feel is so horrible that you need to vote to strike, then this is simply not a job for you. Walk away, be happy elsewhere, and somebody will gladly fill your shoes. Strikes are never about anything other than money.
I understand jobs come with hardships. I understand using a union and strikes are a way to change your profession for the better. But let me put a working persons strike into perspective as opposed to an actors.
I worked for, what was at the time, the largest telephone company in the world. A strike vote came because new employees were starting at a higher wage than those of us who had started seven years earlier (because, you know, inflation had nothing to do with it. We all still capped out at the same max wage). Our brilliant union decided that older employees needed a financial compensation in our contracts to make the over all pay of the last seven years equal, because again, everybody over the course of decades all starts at the same wage (insert eye-roll). My union offered a strike vote that, if successful, would have taken me out of a job where with commissions I was bringing in $1000 a week (in the 90’s) down to a mere $250 with the forced requirement that I picket 16 hours a week.
Looking at this example all you can see is greed plan and clear. Logic was out the window and the only people to suffer to are the employees who would not be able to pay their bills and feed their families.
Now lets look at what a voice actor strike might look like (and keep in mind I am not an actor so I am only guessing and feel free to correct me as I am very curious actually). A voice actor goes on strike and stops taking in new jobs. They are not receiving new money at all. They have however been paid handsomely from previous jobs, and based on Mr. Wheaton’s example, they do not seem to work daily or weekly as time is needed to repair their throats.
So this strike goes into effect barely affecting them at the start because they are used to long breaks in their schedule plus they have been paid such large amounts for the short amount of work (again compared to a 9×5, 40 hour work week). So the people they are actually hurting at this point is not themselves but the game developers because they are messing with the release schedule of the products. My guess is that most of these actors with sound investments could hold out a year or more and I would be shocked to see any of them on the picket line. So since they are stable with such a HUGE potential hold out time this becomes less about them and more about squeezing the pockets of the studios. This makes this just another strike for more money. Hence nothing but greed.
Keeping all of this in mind, I cannot see anywhere this strike is not just another example of a “woe is me, give me more money” squeeze job that Unions have been pulling to play mobster since they were created. I understand and fully support more money and asking for safety condition for motion capture work, but if the studio does not want to pay you for it…walk away. Sadly there is just no scenario where I could ever support this kind of a strike or see it as anything other than the realization that this is a very lucrative industry and the people involved want every greedy, selfish, self entitled piece of it they can get.
Just one mans opinion.
Thank you for taking the time to read it.
Feel free to discuss, debate, and flame away.
Your comparison isn’t valid. Your jobs, salesperson, bill collector and service rep…frankly, any monkey could do it, no offense intended. Any monkey off the street can’t do what actors do, when they do it well, and your whole page showed that you don’t understand or appreciate what they do.
“If you put it in perspective you know its true.”
It isnt even remotely true, and I’m the guy that hires the actors. To borrow another poster’s comment, I can’t hire bob from accounting or susie from marketing to come down and record the lines because bob is an accountant and susie is in marketing, and neither one of them can deliver the lines and sound real. They both sound like shit. If I want somebody to sound like a monotonous salesman or bill collector, I can call anybody. If I want somebody to sound like a monotonous salesman or bill collector or a space alien, cop, accountant, assassin, or any one of a number of other things, then I’ll call in a real actor.
If you put THAT into perspective, you’ll know its true.
If you still don’t, then it is no wonder to me that you aren’t a director of movies, or otherwise creative success, instead of a salesperson, bill collector, or service rep.
I don’t buy your argument that any monkey can do the job cobey does. You could call it production work in voice acting. It really comes down to union trying to get more money from workers. It’s there job and its what the union does to make sure actors know there union dues are going somewhere that helps them.
I do believe unions has there place in some type jobs.
But thinking that striking to give actors residuals to a game that no one cares about who’s voice was use in a cutsense will work at all. The only time game developors think about a voice actor first instead of last is who can we use to promote this game. Good example would be COD Advance Warfare when they use Kevin Spacey for the leader or something. They didn’t just use his voice acting but his liking and made him in the video to promote the game in trailers and commercials. Residuals would be understanding for that. But a few weeks of voice actor aka voice over to video games does not equal to residuals. No way, no how. I can see a justify paid for that and greed is all that part.
Thanks for the post. While I am not sure whether I agree or disagree with the strike, I do appreciate the fascinating look behind-the-scenes of what it’s like to do voice acting, and appreciate your perspective on the topic.
David Hayter in Metal Gear… Memories.
Thanks so much for sharing. I had no idea this was going on. Any of it. It’s so sad that people would say such negative things and that you feel the need to explain yourself to them. And by just glancing at the comments that they still have negative things to say. insert Captain Picard facepalm here I’ll just assume they are a bunch of union hating libertarians (I’m from Wisconsin). I support you and your union for fighting for a better contract. Those ‘fines’ are super absurd!
Residuals for video games don’t work in the sense that the game is bought one time by one owner. For subscription games where there is montly charges residuals make sense to a certain degree.
When a TV show goes into syndication the studios still make NEW money off the advertising which is why an actor deserves NEW money for the work they did that is bringing in new profits. Same for commercials and movies. Games do not work the same way…
That being said the producers of video games make huge profits and are exploiting the actors in the meager session fees that are being paid out. If they value the work of union actors so little why not lock them out and do their own recording with the programmers and graphic artists. After all I’m sure they were hired for their personality and ability to communicate verbally. People will most likely still buy them but the quality will definitely suffer.
Yeah because games never get Re-released or remade ever.
So, as a video game consumer who enjoys story-heavy games with significant amounts of voice acting, I totally support this. I don’t want burnout and studio mistreatment driving away people who help make games great.
“Its not about money” Then proceed to ask for royalties on big selling games like they do with movies. Maybe in your particular case is not about money, but the rest of the supporters of #performancematters clearly think it is.
Movie actors get royalties because doesn’t matter if the movie is crap, the sole presence of the actor warrants a large amount of money. RDJ gets royalties because any movie that RDJ makes, it instantly makes more money at the box office. -Is that the “new RDJ” movie?- People say. But Ive never ever heard someone saying “Is that the new Troy baker game?”, “I cant wait to listen Tara Strong in her 100th role this year”.
While I loved Hayter as Snake, and I certainly prefer him to Keifer, at the end of the day its “A Hideo Kojima” game. Not a Hayter game. And if a heavy dialog, heavy exposition game like Metal Gear Solid can discard all that exposition and its most famous voice actor and still sell fine, it is because actually “performance doesn’t matter” for most costumers. Gameplay matters.
Sure, good voice acting always enhance the game, its welcome and you should be treated fairly like any other videogame industry employee but lets not overestimate the importance of your work in a medium in which is not really essential.
Hollywood studios know certain actors bring more money, and thus they pay them all they want. But with videogames people care about Is it online/or not?, has replayability? how is the gameplay? who is directing it? who is the character designer? how many characters can you control? are the controls responsive? can sustain a solid framerate? what are the skills of the characters? can you interact with the world around? But probably the last of their concerns is who voices a game. Specially when we are all pretty much tired of listening to the same 3 or 4 guys everywhere. Hell, I even bought games for music alone. Im a great fan of Olivier Deriviere and I bought Remember Me even knowing the game was crap. But I certainly wouldn’t pay or buy a game for a voice actor.
If Konami after hiring Kojima, rehires Hayter for MGS6. Good for him. But I buy games for Kojima, not for Hayter and I will not pay for MGS6.
Im up for you guys to get royalties, but only after all the people who make the actual game gets royalties too. Dont forget you are all replaceable doesn’t matter what a good job you do. Its gameplay and content which is non negotiable.
Funny, I would buy a new Metal Gear game if David Hayter was in it again, in half a heartbeat. VAs have fans nowadays. I am certainly one of them, and there are many others. People like Laura Bailey, Troy Baker, Brian Bloom, Yuri Lowenthal, Hayter and Tara Strong have people who follow them from game to game, because they ARE that good and they DO an amazing job. I bought Republique solely on the strength of a plot synopsis, and hearing Jennifer Hale and Hayter were the main VAs in it. I don’t regret it. Saints Row was an insta-purchase: Laura Bailey AND Troy Baker? Danielle Nicolet, Andrew Bowen, and other voices I recognized and knew would do a great job? Hell yes.
I’m the child of two journalists. The newspaper unions kept both of my parents working when I was a kid – without them, they would both have been out of a job at the same time. People who hate unions hate anyone getting more money than them, even if it’s rightfully deserved. Americans are so obsessed with ensuring that not one person gets a tenth more than they’re entitled to that they completely ignore those who unfairly get nothing. (Speaking generally, not saying VAs get nothing, but they are entitled to more.)
hmm, is it possible you’re coming from an extremely bias position? You’re sense of entitlement is grossly unnerving.
VA’s of big budget games already make MORE money in a few sessions than the software engineer does in a year of dedicated work with unpaid overtime. In what twisted view do you have that you think they are “entitled” to even more? Put on top of that the fact that the VA work is such a small part of the project makes me wonder how skewed your view really is. 99% of people don’t buy games because of the actors involved. You are the exception, and you must realize that. Sure, having good actors adds a level of polish to a game, but it doesn’t sell copies.
If VA’s start getting residuals, it would be a slap in the face to the hard working, dedicated game developers. This is their game, the VA is just a freelance job, just as we hire freelance artists. VA’s contribute a fraction of the work that other positions do, yet get paid just as much, if not more than others. How can you not see that? These are games, with some voice overs on occasion. They are not movies, with some gameplay on the side. I’m not trying to belittle VA’s, because they are an important part of the experience, but I think you are giving them too much credit. You can take the VA out of a game and still have a great gaming experience. You can’t say that about any other aspect of the game. What does that say?
I think it would be great if everyone in the industry received residuals. But if only certain people (VA’s) received them not others (game devs) than that would not be right. Even if everyone received residuals they should be based on your contribution to the project. Seeing as how a VA’s contribution is a fraction of what any game dev’s is, they wouldn’t be receiving much.
but that level of performer could easily negotiate compensation for announcing it to their fans, a commision for every sale generated from their twitter post. That easily replaced the residual that Voice Actors are complaining about. There is no need to pay them residual if their fan base is so loyal that they would follow them from game to game, because they would be equally loyal to guy thru their affiliate link as well.
The problem is that a union forced minimum contract apply to both the inferior and superior talent, and that the point, it not the great VA you have to concern yourselves with it the crappy ones who are getting an unfair compensation that mandated.
I am sure that people hire Wil to get access to his million + followers, stop giving it away for free just because you got the job.
If they want to use your name, promote to your twitter followers they should either pay you or buy the ad space on twitter. That a fair market solution that doesn’t unfairly reward lackluster performance.
well f—ing said.
My Perspective: Non-union actor with one live radio unpaid gig, looking for more experience and recordings toward a professional demo. I don’t expect to join a union for several years but sympathize with the function of unions to protect actors and guarantee union pay in safe conditions. I also volunteer at game conventions sometimes and hear from developers. I totally get the need for shorter sessions for screaming and that actors need to protect their voices. I’m inexperienced so I just have questions.
I’m not sure I understand the bit about penalizing agents when union actors take extra small assignments. Who benefits in that scenario? Game companies for not paying union rate if union actors are taking gigs without agency placement, or non-union actors who don’t have the competition as much from union actors if there is a fine, or is this about preserving a fee for agencies that makes it a better arrangement to be in the union and have an agent?
Let’s just make sure there are as little unions, guilds and so on in game dev. There are employers who can give you some work and people who can do work, who are free to choose it or not. Some employers will pay residuals, some not, this is part of a contract. It is a free world. If somebody does not (or can not) want to work on certain stressful parts for > 2 hours, it is understandable. Most audio directors I worked with are decent people, they will not push actors beyond what is reasonable.
Honestly, most VOs in games are not as important to talk about residuals etc. Also, I feel like most of it (even in AAA games) sounds quite fake… But I can understand it is hard to really say “under fire” sitting in a comfortable room with a nice drink…
Why would you not want unions involved unless your interest is in making money and screwing people you McBellend.
Alright, we need to get to the real question that is buried in all our collective subconscious minds. It is nice to hear from Mr WheaTon, but I am mainly concerned over one particular voice. Mr Keith David. I don’t care if I never ‘hear’ the subtitles spoken by you, but Keith David…. now there is a goddamn voice actor. Every game should have at least one line by him, because he rules, alas even the 2nd tier has to get some of the work, because Keith David can’t carry the whole voice acting industry by himself.
Now on the other hand, you could quit deflecting coder concerns and take some initiative and work together with them. You can network with coders to whom you show some REAL empathy, because you are symbiotically joined in the big picture, and the best coders would make the best game for you to possibly be Keith David’s golly gee shucks sidekick that cleans his boots after saving your character’s selfish ass.
Consider you might actually accomplish something if you think beyond the ‘voice acting’ which is detrimental to only a fraction of the process.
You work on video game production, coders work on video game production. Quit referencing your personal microcosm because you come across as being very…..well…as a tea drinking, reading, and talking, but WITH EMOTIONAL FEEL mangina with a keyboard; decent logic, but a selfish douchey presentation when the macrocosm is smh collectively. Speak of the oppression on ALL the game making indentured servants and you will gain an army of supporters that might actually accomplish the collective goal, making great games.
Assuming game idea is great
Shit coders + shit actors = shit game
Shit coders + good actors = shit game
Shit coders + Keith David = Keith David
Good coders + bad actors = playable game
Good coders + good actors =great game
Good coders+ Keith David = Keith David
You aren’t Keith David so make some friends that are Good Coders and bypass politics. I mean, if the Big Bung laugh track thinks you are great (which your character is, but I digress) you must be liked by the laugh track, at least.
Are you trolling, or are you just a lunatic?
Yes, that is correct.
Is your definition of trolling having a different opinion than you? I think he made perfect sense
Thanks, I also believe Keith David can have more free range now that Hot Rod(RIP dude) is no longer around to force those glasses upon this face.
My wife tells me I am a CC rider, but I don’t dig chicks that blog about ideas….pfft. The world has enough, there is NO more room for better ones.
It is flattering to be singled out by a brilliant autistic woman with a law degree. I however, must agree with her neighbor that she needs to do something about the Kitty Litter. Wheaton’s vocal chords are affected by the high pH in the air while he drinks his tea and whines about his lot needing improvement. It would seem his Reading Rainbow royalties should keep him from letting the Ammonia make him cry.
thus spake Keith David, under pseudonym.
No no no. I am actually Rudy Ray Moore’s son’s best friend’s pot dealer”s girlfriend’s baby daddy’s ex neighbor. Closer relation to Dolemite than Al Simmons, MIKE TYSON IS NOT AL SIMMONS. Al Simmons is Spawn, resurrected because McFarlane’s McGuire ball went the way of Wheaton’s weird beard. Maybe they will resurrect Funny or Die and Will can give us another shot at believing he is going on an adventure to look at a dead body, on Mars. NASA has uncovered the secret, it is a planet, but NOT Earth and definitely not Pluto or the m00n. Watch their enlightening news conference Monday….or end up a grounded space explorer bitching about how unfair the MAN is treating Will freaking Wheaton, and a strike is now under his due process of contemplation. If you picket don’t be a scab, or Keith David will know, and you don’t measure up to Keith David.
I wear clothes. Where possible I try to buy clothes that weren’t produced under conditions of abuse to workers, sweatshops, or bonded labour. I try, but I still have to wear suitable clothes and have money left over with which to eat and get the bus. I only have so much latitude to exercise my principles where it concerns clothing.
I’m also a gamer, but I don’t have to buy any game which doesn’t meet my ethical standards. I don’t need games to work, to eat or to sleep, which means my freedom to act upon my principles here is absolute. If these studios persist in these demands then I will not buy their games, regardless of any prior emotional attachment to the franchise.
My Mum raised me to weigh my actions and my Dad raised me to never cross a picket line. So here we are.
I fully support your stance on this issue and aside from the obvious, here’s why. Among your affiliated unions is ACTRA, which is the equivalent union of SAG-AFTRA in Canada and covers performers in film, radio, television and advertising as well as new media like video games; the compensation for which is evolving as we speak. Among the founders, in the 1940s of ACTRA was my own father who wrote and negotiated the “first effective, residual agreement in North America” for performers in radio and TV commercials. “Our time once given is gone. Our talent once recorded, remains of value.” This is the premise for all “use payments” that have come into being since and for which Bernard Cowan was presented ACTRA’s Lifetime Achievement Award, The John Drainie Award for his “significant contribution to broadcasting.”
I too have worked in animation and video games and I echo, from experience that those “call out sessions” are some of the most grueling and tedious work that voice performers do. They leave you hoarse and exhausted both physically and emotionally because each line, in each of its forms must be delivered as though it was said for the first time and with sincerity and conviction so it can be inserted effectively where its needed in a show or a game. Much of the work that voice actors do is fun and rewarding and on more than one occasion I’ve exclaimed out loud, that I “can’t believe we get paid for this.” It still requires talent, discipline and focus. It is a REAL job that only certain people can do. But those call out sessions are absolutely dreaded by any voice actor who has done one. The animation world has evolved to employ “name” actors to most roles to add box office appeal to a given project. As they appear on talk shows to promote a show, film or game they all revel in the fact that they don’t have to worry about wardrobe and make-up but it’s their name and recognizable voices that they bring to it. Not necessarily their skill. Most of the most talented and skilled “voice actors” are people nobody has ever heard of and none of them are paid seven figure salaries for their work. It’s true. Each “job” doesn’t take that long to complete and session payments are negotiated and generally fair but those “next” jobs can be few and far between. It is the USE of our work that often sustains us.
Among the reasons that the Christmas classic, Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer, has aired on CBS television for over 50 years is because in 1965, no one could anticipate for how long and how many ways in which it could be used, purchased and used again. Video cassettes, dvd’s, streaming and whatever comes next. The actors who performed in this program, some of whom are still alive, have been paid NOTHING, since the first airing. NOTHING!!! Only Burl Ives (Sam the Snowman; the narrator) negotiated a side deal for “use” because HE was a celebrity. He died TWENTY years ago and his estate has continued to be paid. My father, Bernard Cowan who hired the cast and directed the performances as well as playing a few of the supporting roles died twenty-five years ago and has been compensated a total of ZERO since the first airing. No one but the “rights holders”, which have changed several times over the years have made any money and it has been in the tens of millions of dollars over the 50+ years.
SAG-AFTRA is a strong union with considerably more power and influence in the industry than ACTRA is in Canada but the agreements negotiated in the United States are a template and influence on those agreements, which are negotiated here for the same issues. We will all watch with interest as you exert the pressure of a strong brotherhood/sisterhood on engagers/producers/employers that are covered within SAG-AFTRA’s jurisdiction.
Go fuck yourself Mr Wheaton.
A voice acting gig is the easiest and most overpaid job in existence.
Jealousy is an ugly color on you, “Comedy”. It makes your ass look fat.
LOL @ Jealousy having anything to do with this. It’s disgusting that someone doing such an easy overpaid job would ask for more money. Supporting asking for residuals is just the icing on the cake of greed.
You not liking it might make you feel like you have to do some white knighting, but it’s a stone cold fact.
Obviously, you’ve never done it, you ignorant twatwaffle.
Actually, that would be you job Comedy… the uncouth, internet jackass. There is no reason you need to behave like trash to make a point.
Who do you think you are, the second coming of Lenny Bruce?
With a name like “Comedy”, I find you to be more of a “Tragedy”.
I understand that some seem to deeply resent what the voice talent gets paid. On an hourly basis, yes, it would undoubtedly be a lot more than you are paid for your salaried job. Like any work, professionals make it look easy. It is a skilled profession- one that usually takes years to develop and get good at it. That is part of the time that would to be calculated into the “how long it took”.
Those who work freelance need to charge more- they don’t have the security of a salary, insurance, pension and other perks that a regular job brings, and are earning nothing until the product is well-developed. Auditioning is usually not paid. Each session booked brings opportunity costs- other jobs forgone, etc.
In any case, the problem here seems to be that you believe that voice talent are adversaries- that it is a zero sum game- if VA are better paid, that developers, etc. will necessarily be paid less. This is not so. Put it this way: if voice talent were suddenly paid 50% less, that management would pay coders, designers, developers, etc. would suddenly be paid more? Nonsense. Management will pay as little as they can, for as much as they can get.
I keep trying to make this point, and it keeps falling on deaf ears. I can’t figure out why, but I appreciate you putting the question into this context. Maybe it’ll help.
That’s irrelevant, big name voice talent is costly, that’s the reality of the industry. Putting forth the idea that you deserve residuals is quite frankly silly. When you put in 60 hour weeks for 18 months to sometimes 3 or 4 years on a project, come complain about it. I’ll support you til the cows come home. Again all that’s going to end up happening is the big game publishers, the EA’s and Ubisoft’s and Activision’s will end up hiring non union voice actors, and those in the SAG looking to do game voice work will be up a creek without a paddle as they burn their bridges.
Stunt coordinators I can see, for safety reasons IF a voice actor is the one doing mo cap, getting a life time portion of a titles sales on the other hand? Yeah um no.
“I keep trying to make this point, and it keeps falling on deaf ears. I can’t figure out why, but I appreciate you putting the question into this context. Maybe it’ll help.”
It’s not that it is “falling on deaf ears” as much as it is irrelevant; that’s not the real concern. I’d suggest that it is more along the lines of:
1. Everyone who works on a team understands that some people might make more than others; as long as their compensation feels as though it is reasonably in line with the extent of their contribution to the success of the effort, there isn’t much of an issue.
2. Residuals for actors is the result of historical circumstances that simply have never applied to video games.
3. Designers and developers have no interest in forming a union for the purpose of making residuals to actors reasonable, even if businesses were willing to consider them.
So when VAs demand what is effectively an outsize level of compensation, the development staff is understandably resistant.
Part of the problem may be that in the interest of brevity, Wil gave a summary. From what I understand, the residuals (in addition to the original session fee) would only kick in after a certain level was reached (such as 2 million units), so small indy developers or unsuccessful games would not be bankrupted by such schemes, by any means.
Why would VAs want this? Games are already on the higher risk/lower reward than many other forms of voice work, which generally do get paid based on usage/sales. With all the secrecy when games are being made, it would also ensure that voice talent would recover at least something when they were low-balled in contracting for their work (no one ever calls voice talent and says, “we have a pretty big budget for this one, so we can afford to pay you more than usual”).
That those who work on the games don’t get paid get paid residuals [though they may receive options or some form of profit sharing] is an apples to oranges comparison, but no VA would object to developers and others also receiving money this way. They’d welcome it- it would put everyone on the same page of wanting to create the best, most successful product possible. [Though we certainly can imagine this may be why game companies are so strenuously opposed to paying gratuities, seeing it as becoming the thin edge of the wedge]
In economic terms, an argument could be made that such a system would not only result in better games, it would allow producers to start with lower front end costs, (in exchange for giving up more back end for more successful projects), which could result in more games being made, which would mean more jobs for everyone.
Wow, I keep reading this and coming back to one thing. Motion capture is done without stunt coordinators? How the hell do the game companies’ insurance companies let them get away with that? Do they just not carry insurance? That’s crazy.
The rest of it is just shitty evil corporate behavior. Modern businesses seem to run on a principle of screwing everyone else as much as possible: abuse your employees, cheat your suppliers, and gouge/lie to your customers, and if anybody complains, sue them to death because you have bigger laywers.
But not using a stunt coordinator while you’re telling someone to do something dangerous is just opening yourself up to a big, nasty lawsuit when they get hurt. That’s not just evil. It’s stupid, too.
Do they make the motion actors sign waivers or something?
Thank you Wil for the informative look into game acting. This discussion has gotten a bit fiery, with valid arguments on both sides. I actually have worked on both sides. I create video game content for free use, “mods” as we call them; I dabble in all of it: level creation, art, music, writing, programming/coding, and I’m a voice actor (VA) too, who actually got started out because of my love of voice over (VO) in games! I support -nearly- everything Wil wishes.
I was most struck by the bit about game directors not allowing VA’s adequate breaks for proper care of their pipes, and pushing them so hard. Vocal fatigue is very real, and potentially very damaging, like driving on a flat tire. Just a bit further, just a bit… then POP. There goes the tire, or there goes your voice, and it’s “bed rest” for a week. I’ve experienced -both- of those first-hand.
The other thing that stood out to me strongly is not being told what kind of a role the VA will be doing before they agree to it! I don’t want to agree to something blind and then find out it’s for some objectionable content I don’t want to be known for, or something I end up hating. That’s just fishy. They should at least be told -something- about the role, enough to decide if they truly want to do it.
I don’t feel like VA’s flat out “ought” to get residuals, not if no one else on the game team is getting them. Voice acting is pretty cool in a game, but it’s only a part of the whole. Final Fantasy games (at least some of the early ones, I have not played the last several so cannot comment on them) were amazing, with art, story, music, etc, and they only had speech bubbles you had to read! I’m fine with just getting a session fee, and if it’s not a “reasonable” amount, I can simply pass and look at a different job. Yes, video games are different from film & television, as others have explained above. However, the amount of work a VA “contributes” also varies greatly on the game. Some games use voice acting as just as much of a key ingredient as graphics or level design (for example, the Dragon Age series), while others only add in VO for a bit of interesting background ambiance (such as many first-person shooter games). Voice actors do it primarily because we love it. Being paid is nice, but it’s not the -sole- incentive, and we are often drawing from several fields of voice over, not just one, like video games. I don’t make a living at it yet, but I’ve only been doing it professionally for about half a year.
It’s unfortunate that -some- VA’s, and some directors too, might be unprofessional, but we are NOT all like that. I strive to be professional and extend the same courtesies to directors as I would expect for myself when I direct (or any other co-worker or customer relations).
All that said, I suggest, as someone else did, to first ask for better working conditions than what are described in the post. You definitely need that, it’s not even a question. As for residuals, maybe that question could be decided later, on a case-by-case basis, based on how much VO is used in the game and in consideration of the rest of the content. Maybe that would be too complicated, I don’t know.
Voice actress, audiobook narrator
Everybody is so pro democracy and liberal UNTIL they are forced to sit down acros the table from a Union negotiating committee. Then the laws passed by the people they elected don’t seem so cool. It’s cool with somebody else’s money???
I support this strike authorization and shout out to creative workers everywhere!
Will presented a good summary.
Local One Stagehand
Um the progressive mantra is to spend other people’s money to begin with, then you go bankrupt when you’ve run out of other’s money to spend. Look at Greece. Socialism is a cancer, much like modern liberalism.
Don’t you think you’d be happier posting on Breitbart or Faux Noise, Meghan? We get it- you hate progressives/liberals. You need a new routine, this one’s getting old and dusty.
Does it bother you Gary that there are people who will strongly speak out about the dangers of socialism/progressive thinking? You’re damn right I hate progressives, there’s a good reason for it, I enjoy my freedoms, I value the bill of rights and the Constitution, and hate fascist authoritarians. So yes I do hate liberals, I think you should all spend a little time in China or North Korea so you can get a true taste for what your destructive policies produce.
Clue, Meghan: Facism is RIGHT-wing. If you can’t even get that straight, then you really don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about.
Hitler was fascist, he was also a national socialists, that’s the platform he ran on. History is not liberals strong point.
noun: fascism; noun: Fascism; plural noun: Fascisms
an authoritarian and nationalistic right-wing system of government and social organization.
synonyms: authoritarianism, totalitarianism, dictatorship, despotism, autocracy; Nazism, rightism;
nationalism, xenophobia, racism, anti-Semitism;
"a film depicting the rise of fascism in the 1930s"
(in general use) extreme right-wing, authoritarian, or intolerant views or practice.
Debunking The “Nazis Were Leftists” Lie
Posted on 17 January 2011 by Shoq | 18 Comments
Nonsense is nonsense
…and it should be exposed as such; often and always. There are few right wing lies quite so annoying as “the Nazis were Leftists/Socialists/Communists” lie. The revisionist hooey whores like Jonah Goldberg have made it easier for this orchestrated stupidity to gain new traction with his “Liberal Fascism” screed. The left, as it is quite good at doing lately, has utterly failed to push back against this absurdity in any focused manner, so this too gains acceptance among those who think Obama was born in Kenya, the media is liberal, Canadians are overwhelming the U.S. health care system, and government can’t create jobs.
Below I’ve put down a few good articles you can use to defuse this idiotic argument. It’s not hard. I will update it as I have time. If you know of some brief or extended articles I should add here, please pass them along to me via Twitter or in comments below.
Please use the Tweet button below and help pass this along to friends, neighbors, and sane countrymen. Thanks!
Hitler, Nazis, Socialism, and Rightwing Propaganda
The basis of the conflation of nazism and socialism is the term "National Socialism," a self description of the Nazis. "National Socialism" includes the word "socialism", but it is just a word. Hitler and the Nazis outlawed socialism, and executed socialists and communists en masse, even before they started rounding up Jews. In 1933, the Dachau concentration camp held socialists and leftists exclusively. The Nazis arrested more than 11,000 Germans for "illegal socialist activity" in 1936.
Debunking GOP lies
The GOP uses deception and fears to try to break the president and his agenda for change. Ultra-right broadcasters even lie about our World War II enemy. Their claims about health care, big business and "socialism" in Nazi Germany are not only untrue, but vicious and ignorant
The ‘Socialists Are Communists’ Myth
The Myth 1 — The Nazis were National Socialists and therefore Nazism is a form of socialism. The left-wing parties like Labour and the Greens are therefore similar to the Nazis politically.
The Truth 1 — Nope: a common mistake propagated by people who think that a name means what it says. Take the Democratic Republic of Congo, the German Democratic Republic or the Peoples’ Democratic Republic of Korea (North Korea). Any takers for claiming them as being democracies?
Myth: Hitler was a Leftist—by Steve Kangas
To most people, Hitler's beliefs belong to the extreme far right. For example, most conservatives believe in patriotism and a strong military; carry these beliefs far enough, and you arrive at Hitler's warring nationalism. This association has long been something of an embarrassment to the far right. To deflect such criticism, conservatives have recently launched a counter-attack, claiming that Hitler was a socialist, and therefore belongs to the political left, not the right.
The primary basis for this claim is that Hitler was a National Socialist. The word "National" evokes the state, and the word "Socialist" openly identifies itself as such.
However, there is no academic controversy over the status of this term: it was a misnomer. Misnomers are quite common in the history of political labels
Readings on American Nazism from Southern Poverty Law Center
SPLC has some great articles in their archive that reveal just how many of the more vicious and ignorant Nazi myths have been morphed and migrated into American extremist's culture. Often with the tacit approval of many mainstream conservatives and Republicans.
The money shot
If you just don’t have a lot of time, you can use Hitler’s own words from Mein Kampf, where the Furhrer clearly illustrates his contempt for the “leftists,” and had used their colors (not to mention their name) to annoying them:
Yes, how often did they not turn up in huge numbers, those supporters of the Red Flag, all previously instructed to smash up everything once and for all and put an end to these meetings. More often than not everything hung on a mere thread, and only the chairman’s ruthless determination and the rough handling by our ushers baffled our adversaries’ intentions. And indeed they had every reason for being irritated.
The fact that we had chosen red as the colour for our posters sufficed to attract them to our meetings. The ordinary bourgeoisie were very shocked to see that, we had also chosen the symbolic red of Bolshevism and they regarded this as something ambiguously significant.
The suspicion was whispered in German Nationalist circles that we also were merely another variety of Marxism, perhaps even Marxists suitably disguised, or better still, Socialists. The actual difference between Socialism and Marxism still remains a mystery to these people up to this day. The charge of Marxism was conclusively proved when it was discovered that at our meetings we deliberately substituted the words ‘Fellow-countrymen and Women’ for ‘Ladies and Gentlemen’ and addressed each other as ‘Party Comrade’. We used to roar with laughter at these silly faint-hearted bourgeoisie and their efforts to puzzle out our origin, our intentions and our aims.
We chose red for our posters after particular and careful deliberation, our intention being to irritate the Left, so as to arouse their attention and tempt them to come to our meetings – if only in order to break them up – so that in this way we got a chance of talking to the people.
Try again, Meghan…
I’m a developer and this seems fairly simple to me. If a company hires an Actor for voice over, then they should be paid a contract amount for the work done. However, if the company wants to use the name of the Actor to help promote and sell the game, then the Actor should also be compensated. Possibly even on a residual basis. This has nothing to do with pay equity when compared to other positions like developers. It’s about using someone’s influence to help promote and sell a game.
Trust me, as a voice actress who has worked in video games myself, unless you are a top name you are NOT earning nearly enough to support yourself on that alone. I also do voice work and on camera work for film/television, where residual pay has been wonderful. When I’m unable to get a part-time job because I have to keep my days open for auditions and can only work super weird hours, like 6AM-10AM or night-shifts, residuals are how I afford my rent. But, that’s my own choice and I’m not sitting here asking for sympathy for that. That’s just my reality and I’m okay with that for now. So, residual pay from the work I’ve done in video games would be great, sure, and with the proposed amount from SAG/AFTRA it doesn’t read as an obnoxious amount to be asking for.
Residual pay aside, the main issues here are vocal strain/safety on set. I’m a screamer. I’m often hired for my scream. To expect me to be able to scream, and hold the same quality level of scream, for over two hours is very difficult. But, I’m a young actress, still trying to make a name for myself, so I’m going to give it my all for as long as I’m hired. I know for a fact my first few screams and yells and struggles and “Help me!”‘s sound a hell of a lot better than my last few, five hours in. For there to be updated rules in place to protect my voice, hell yeah I’m fighting for that! Why would a company fight against that?
That brings us to the counterarguments. I am completely against the RIDICULOUS request to fine an actor $2,500 for being “inattentive” on set?! What would be considered inattentive and by whose standards? It’s very vague wording and that’s worrisome to me. Sure, actors should be respectful and always on, we’re hired TO act, but if an actor is disrespectful or wasting your time, fire them. If you can’t fire them for one reason or another, never hire them again. From my own experience, it’s often obvious within the first few hours of a job who, if anyone, is going to be a problem. And then up to a $100,000 fine if my agent decides not to send me on certain auditions?? I’m not a puppet, I’m a person, this is my career by choice, it’s asinine to even put that idea into writing.
I would be happy if this issue resolves itself through negotiations and doesn’t come to a strike, if both sides can find compromises and work it out, amazing! I absolutely love what I do, the first MoCap job I was fortunate enough to book was honestly one of the most fun projects I’ve ever worked on, across all platforms. In that instance I was incredibly lucky that one of the other MoCap performer’s also happened to be a stunt man/coordinator, and as I said I’m newer to this field, I had no idea that wasn’t common practice! Without him, our fight scenes would have, to put it bluntly, sucked and could have ended up being very dangerous. The were quite a few choreographed fight scenes. I’ve never filmed a stunt without a coordinator in any film/television project I’ve worked on, why would I not be afforded that same safety on a MoCap set just because it’s a “different medium”. Different medium, same work.
Anyway, I support what Wil is saying. I agree that there are a huge number of other people with technically more difficult jobs that make video games what they are. Us actors are just a small piece of that puzzle. In my opinion, things need to change for everyone involved. We all deserve more than what we’re getting.
“For there to be updated rules in place to protect my voice, hell yeah I’m fighting for that! Why would a company fight against that?… I am completely against the RIDICULOUS request to fine an actor $2,500 for being “inattentive” on set?!… We all deserve more than what we’re getting.”
HERE HERE!! pumps fist
To put the residual argument into at least a little more perspective; I’m in a Loop Group. That means a group of me and my fellow VO artists go into a big room for 6-9hrs and record background noise. We make sure the extras in scenes aren’t silently moving their mouths anymore, we fill those mouths with words. Words, unless the movie is complete crap, no one in the theater is paying attention to. If the movie’s successful, I make a shit ton of money in residuals from just that one session. Even if the movie isn’t successful, I make at least a little something off of DVD sales and television re-runs.
Now, when I was the lead of a pretty popular video game sequel, I spent around three weeks, with a few days added in at the end, in a studio doing motion capture, facial capture and voice work. I put my heart and soul into that game. I was a whole living, breathing character. I can’t wrap my head around the fact that I make more money being an anonymous voice, surrounded by a sea of other anonymous voices in the background of a few scenes of a film, yet when I work my ass off for nearly a month, I don’t get to reap any of the rewards from the success of the game.
Call me greedy, I don’t mind. It makes zero sense to me.
tldr; the system is fucked
I’m a fan of arguments and after reading all this (comments) i couldn’t help bringing up several things.
To start, I am in favor of these changes for VAs. I can see that life being very rough. I will assume the working conditions requests should be accepted without argument.
These arguments that go to extremes instantly become invalid. You can’t say that VA makes a game and you can’t say they are replaceable and worthless. There is a spectrum and the extremes are rarely hit. To all those who say games can be made great without voice acting, you are correct. So make a game without voices. That was easy. When a game includes voices it means that they have been made more important.
Despite the premise of the article, everyone instantly jumped to money. There are so many flaws in this back and forth. The main problem is the VA sees how payment is done for voice work in other areas and the devs see how people making a game get paid and they are different. I would argue that the payment should be different. Everyone seems to be in agreement that the type of work and hours required is very different. Voice actors are a type of actor, they don’t get paid the same way other jobs do. That is how it is. While devs may say they should get residuals before them that is muddling the argument. Saying that things suck for me so they should suck for you doesn’t make any sense. Bringing in unions, how can you just say that everyone is so easily replaced? I can’t believe that if an experienced team left and was replaced entirely by new employees that game production would go smoothly if at all. While some are quick to say VAs are replaceable and shouldn’t be paid more you are also saying that you are replaceable and submitting yourself to whatever is necessary to keep a job. Also, where are the citations of these 6 figures VAs are making? I am not in the industry but I am very into games and animation and I constantly see struggling VAs. I would assume most VAs who make that much money had a prominent role in TV or Movies previously and expect pay similar to their past work, which they get because publishers want that name attached. In terms of residuals I would be a little wary if it was a percentage of sales but it isn’t. It is a bonus if a game sells so many copies (2 million then 8 million) which wouldn’t harm smaller companies, which I like.
This article is a bit old now but I read it and felt like saying something.
I’m just a gamer, I’ve read interviews from people on both sides, I’ve seen documentaries but it by no means make me an expert. I will say for me personally, VOs add a lot, jenn hale made Mass Effect for me, me just as Laura Bailey made bloodrayne and dbz games for me, I can hear some of these VO Actors from a mile away in a game and enjoy it all the more.
That being said, I am in the minority, I’ve been gaming since the 80s, I know the community inside and out and for most players they could care less about VOs, it’s a well known fact most skip cutscenes and generally would barely notice if devs cut out a lot of VO, unless your Nolan North or Jennifer Hale, odds are most players won’t care.
I’m quite sure these greedy publishers (and they certainly are, always crying poverty and labeling players pirates and generally claiming they loose so much money) know that little factoid. I imagine if they only put VO into RPGs and cut VO from everything else most gamers wouldn’t care. So I think VO actors should keep that in mind before claiming they make a game and inflate their importance.
I haven’t read the nearly 400 comments on this post, so this may have been said already, but I just wanted to offer encouragement. To everyone calling you all greedy, it’s not about how much you make, but about workers sticking up for each other. We shouldn’t be fighting among ourselves for table scraps while the bosses take the lions share.
Workers of the world, unite. 🙂
P.S. This post reminds me of an old, but rich labor pamphlet called The American Worker (by Ria Stone & Paul Romano). If you’re interested check it out.
I wish your group the best of luck in your negotiation. I’m interested in the comment stream made by a director (pretty sure it was a director). According to a director from a studio that posted in here, residuals have been part of every request. As in, we want “we want to discuss this+this” instead of “we want to discuss this, this, and this”
I can totally support the idea of some kind of residuals on voice acting, because so many of you are saying that video games are unique in not getting them at all. I also believe that director’s comment has a very good point about having his hands tied in a situation where an actor is being a problem on set. I think you guys should definitely be entertaining some kind of concession on that. The 100k fine idea is ridiculous though and that must have been absolutely insulting to hear.
I really do wish you luck and hope this one works out well for the voice actors. I’m willing to bet that the majority of gamers will be able to support a strike, even if it causes a catastrophic delay in game releases, if it helps you succeed.
Also – It’s been almost 30 years and I can give you an example of how much impact an actor can have with their audience. Wesley Crusher was my favorite besides Picard. Your character inspired my lifetime love of computer programming and science because you made it “cool” to be into that stuff. Thanks from a fan.
I am actually against residuals too, but it sounds like game developers – the grunts, not the execs – need to sort themselves out a union to fight for some sort of profit share, or better working conditions, too.
As a dev, I find it impossible to portray to a non-dev how taxing a day of development is. A voice actor has a tough time working on a vocally intensive task for 6-8 hours a day? Try doing complex problem-solving for the same amount of time. People don’t truly understand how both emotionally and physically demanding it is. Your body can handle itself for the most part, but stop the most important organ in the body from producing the hormones that the body NEEDS to handle itself, by taxing it on some other incredibly difficult tasks, and then you’ll understand a difficult day.
Everyone deserves good working conditions, and it’s great to have someone fight for it, even if the motivation is mostly about money, but because the industry you are in (acting, obviously not video game voice overs) has had established unions for over 100 years and you’re better represented doesn’t give a union the right to bully game development companies and publishers – yes they are profit-hungry, greed-driven machines, but still. How about your union actually CONSIDER the entire game development community and not ostracize the other, far more important people within the industry, and what effect ridiculous demands will have on the industry as a whole. This to me is the identifying factor that it is driven from unionized greed – better conditions, sure, but wanting more money affects everyone in the industry.
Hello Everyone. I’m a voice & casting director in the gaming industry. I thought I’d provide an opposing opinion on this as I think the Sag aftra strike is the wrong thing to do:
I was just about to link to that, Hugh!
I am new to your blog so maybe a bit late to the game on this post but I do agree with you. Companies make billions on video games, at a pretty significant cost to the consumer. I also understand the vocal stress that recording can cause and the vocal fatigue that can be associated with it. Hope the strike brings them to the negotiation table. On a side note, thanks for the tabletop videos. We have a lot of college students at our house ever 4th Friday of each month for a game night and I have watched several of the videos in order to purchase and learn how to play several games including Munchkin, Dead of Winter and Pandemic. Many thanks for posting them.
I haven’t done VO in a video game yet so I hadn’t read the things that the employers were asking for, but as I read these quotes, it’s disgusting! and quiet embarrassing for them. They sound like bullies. Like, who wrote their contract for them? It sounds all thug-ish like they’ve hated all their voice talent they’ve ever worked with. Where’s the appreciation. A nice- “thank you for all you have done and there are a few things that would help us out and here they are” would be nice. Not all this threatening. There are more professional ways to ask for things, so I fully support a strike. Don’t give contracts like this the time of day!
Solidarity, baby! The 40 hour work week, weekends, unemployment benefits, disability, parental leave – brought to you by unions.
Bit late to the party on this comment, though I read the post when Wil posted it initially. Just read through the comments out of curiosity and to see if anybody else could add something informative about it.
Largely, disappointed. Cant help but feel disgusted with the standard internet venom being expressed on the personal website of a fairly entertaining individual. But thats not the point of this post. I dont know the finer details of the contracts, I dont know from experience the lives of the people who are either directly or even indirectly involved with VO’ing in this industry (BTW, if I have to read one more asinine common about how moves and videogames arent the same, or even in the same ballpark, I honestly wont do anything but once again consider those people arguing to be nothing less than blatant idiots). The point is, VO is important in video games. Especially the AAA games. And here’s how you can test that. Play any game that has VO in it. Now, mute the voices. Put subtitles on, but mute the voices. If that doesn’t silence all the speaking that is going on, mute the background noise, or ambiance. Play the game with only sound effects and music. Do this for an hour. If, in this hour you still find yourself enjoying your gameplay experience, Congrats, you have shown that for you, Voice acting in Videogames isn’t important.
Have fun with this little experiment!
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