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Author Topic: Video game voice actors may go on strike  (Read 3321 times)

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Offline Sasmi

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Video game voice actors may go on strike
« on: 09/24/15, 07:02:47 AM »
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So apparently there is talk about Video Game Voice Actors going on strike if certain demands are not made.  This got me thinking, what would video games be like if they stopped having voice actors in it. 

Would it really be that bad?  Back in the day, we would sit there reading box text of their lines imagining the voices in our heads and it was fine for years.  Now I've grown to love certain voice actors for stuff but if they were to stop doing the lines, I don't think I would feel upset about it.  I'd probably just shrug and accept who ever is doing the new lines or just read the box text if it comes to that.

I can understand a want of more pay for their job, but this is what all Americans want really.  And any increase in pay they would receive would just be passed along to us consumers.  I am not saying they are wrong in this request for increased pay and rights, but it's not going to be easy for me to support them in this.  Big companies don't give up their profits, they just pass along the bill for someone else to pay and that's usually the consumer.

Offline Semah

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Re: Video game voice actors may go on strike
« Reply #1 on: 09/24/15, 07:33:24 AM »
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Big companies don't give up their profits, they just pass along the bill for someone else to pay and that's usually the consumer.

You could apply this argument to any pay increase, for anyone, ever, except management.

My default position is supporting the voice actors unless someone convinces me they make too much as it is. BW fans like to blame voice-actors for SWTOR cost overruns, but I think that's misdirection.

Offline blingdenston

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Re: Video game voice actors may go on strike
« Reply #2 on: 09/24/15, 07:39:38 AM »
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There's a story Shane Bettenhausen tells about, while working at a game shop in 1997, a fellow returning his copy of Final Fantasy VII.  When asked why, the customer replied: "I didn't know this game would have reading in it."

Me, personally, I don't always want a fully-voiced game.  In games with big ol' scripts, it slows things down for those of us with advanced reading skills; in games with teeny scripts, it often becomes repetitive and annoying.  But, I think I'm in a minority...lots of folks don't have the interest in or concentration for reading through a novelette in the middle of their games.

As such, I don't think voice acting is going anywhere.  I also wouldn't want to deprive wonderful voice actors like Cam Clarke, Grey Delisle, or Frank Welker of work (and, to a lesser extent, professional Hollywood actors who've got the skill-set to pull off a vocal performance, like Kelly Hu, Kristin Schaal, or Ron Perlman).  And...honestly, screw the companies.  They're already getting us all coming and going with their pre-orders, DLC shenanigans, and other poo-doo...if they wanna keep from getting made fun of for Resident Evil 1-type horror shows, they can put some of that Doritos money in Jennifer Hale's pocket.

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Offline Orell

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Re: Video game voice actors may go on strike
« Reply #3 on: 09/24/15, 09:30:45 AM »
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First off, I suggest everyone take a look at Wil Wheaton's post on why he's supporting the strike: http://wilwheaton.net/2015/09/this-is-why-i-support-a-sag-aftra-strike-authorization-for-video-games-and-it-isnt-about-money/

The problem, basically, can be summed up by this line:

Quote
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. -Wil Wheaton

There's a lot of union hatred in the US for... bizarre reasons, frankly. Some instances of corruption exist, and that's not a good thing, but the corruption and collusion in private companies is off the charts by comparison and not many call for their disbandment. The simple fact is, voice actors feel they are not being treated fairly by their employers and want changes.

Not to mention some of the ideas that the industry has regarding how they should be allowed to punish voice actors...

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From: http://www.sagaftra.org/interactive/what-we-stand-to-lose
- Our employers propose 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 propose to fine your agent $50,000-100,000 if they don't send you out on certain auditions (like Atmospheric Voices or One Hour One Voice sessions). And if your agent chooses not to submit you for certain auditions, the employers want it put into contract language that SAG-AFTRA will revoke the agent’s union franchise. This would mean your agency would not be able to send you or anyone else they represent out on any union jobs, including those in animation, TV/Film, Commercials, etc.

Basically, right now, the industry has a massive amount of power over the talent that they use to make their money, and they're resisting any attempt by voice actors to improve their working conditions, avoid unfair, punitive fines and receive a bonus if the game they're working on is a massive success (which would likely be partly thanks to their work, ya know). And since "Activision's COO took home a bonus of $3,970,862" and "EA paid their executive chairman a bonus of $1.5 million", I think the people actually working the game deserve a bit of that too.

The most recent game I played with a strong story and no voice acting, Shadowrun: Dragonfall, was excellent... and would have been better with voice acting, since there's so much that a living voice can give a character that raw text simply cannot. Support them because they're important to the industry.

Oh... and one last thing...

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I can understand a want of more pay for their job, but this is what all Americans want really.  And any increase in pay they would receive would just be passed along to us consumers.  I am not saying they are wrong in this request for increased pay and rights, but it's not going to be easy for me to support them in this.  Big companies don't give up their profits, they just pass along the bill for someone else to pay and that's usually the consumer.

This is the Crab Bucket mentality, through and through. The execs might try to pass those extra costs onto the consumers, but given how long we've been at the $60 price point, that's going to be difficult.

And even if they did. Lets support people trying to wrench away some power from the execs, not sneer at them for doing so because it 'might' slightly hurt us too.
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Offline kitaree

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Re: Video game voice actors may go on strike
« Reply #4 on: 09/24/15, 09:38:55 AM »
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Voice acting adds a ton to video games. Having SWTOR fully voiced is a big positive for me, and something I miss when I go back to WoW and have to read every quest line.

Plus having professional voice actors does, definitively, make a huge difference. I instantly recognize when a character is voiced by Jennifer Hale or Simon Templeman.


Offline Semah

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Re: Video game voice actors may go on strike
« Reply #5 on: 09/24/15, 09:45:26 AM »
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I'm glad at least these professionals get union support. I'm not sure if game industry programmers are union or not, but programmers in my experience often believe they don't need to unionize, because things are great! Especially at Amazon, where they sure do love a challenge! Boy howdy!

Offline Orell

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Re: Video game voice actors may go on strike
« Reply #6 on: 09/24/15, 09:48:33 AM »
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I'm glad at least these professionals get union support. I'm not sure if game industry programmers are union or not, but programmers in my experience often believe they don't need to unionize, because things are great! Especially at Amazon, where they sure do love a challenge! Boy howdy!

For the record... yeah, no, basically the only people in the video game industry that are unionized are the actors. >_<
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Pub side: Lien Orell, Kyri Orell, Shaantil (possibly Dumas), Norland, Everen (bank alt ATM), Quarashaa (Pub version of the real Quarasha), Merrant

Imp Side: Quarasha, Effet Ornell, Arazel, Zedney, Zhel, Asori-Alnas

Offline kitaree

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Re: Video game voice actors may go on strike
« Reply #7 on: 09/24/15, 09:57:41 AM »
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Game design is sort of a thankless job. There's an insane rush at the end where everyone is expected to do a ton of overtime to get the game out on time, and then when the project ends a lot of people can get fired if the sales aren't as high as expected.


Offline Aylaa

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Re: Video game voice actors may go on strike
« Reply #8 on: 09/24/15, 10:05:30 AM »
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I'm glad at least these professionals get union support. I'm not sure if game industry programmers are union or not, but programmers in my experience often believe they don't need to unionize, because things are great! Especially at Amazon, where they sure do love a challenge! Boy howdy!

For the record... yeah, no, basically the only people in the video game industry that are unionized are the actors. >_<

Yah, actors are the only ones. Also there are more than programmers in the games industry: artists (UI, Environment, concept, etc), production managers, designers, hell even community managers are all parts of a studio and none are unionized. (and programmers are treated well because they have masters dark and arcane arts)

IMO I really think the rest of the entertainment industry that isn't already, should unionize. But there's a current pathological hatred for that right now. Really, it's propaganda from management.

Game design is sort of a thankless job. There's an insane rush at the end where everyone is expected to do a ton of overtime to get the game out on time, and then when the project ends a lot of people can get fired if the sales aren't as high as expected.

XD yeah and then Eurogamer gives you a 3.5 because they're Eurogamer and they're hardcore like that, and all the armchair analysts on Kotaku nitpick and judge and call all the devs "stupid" and then meta-critic comes in at at 80 rather than an 85% and no one gets any bonuses, because Eurogamer gave you a 3.5 and some random dude at some barely-noteworthy news source who only played half of the intro gave the game a 75% because they didn't use a font he liked and the jiggle physics weren't bouncy enough.
« Last Edit: 09/24/15, 10:09:06 AM by Aylaa »

Offline Crimsen

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Re: Video game voice actors may go on strike
« Reply #9 on: 09/24/15, 10:18:52 AM »
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I didn't even know any of those guys were unionized. Though I'm surprised the private and stuff are not. Don't they make the bulk of a video have?

Offline Aylaa

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Re: Video game voice actors may go on strike
« Reply #10 on: 09/24/15, 10:27:17 AM »
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I didn't even know any of those guys were unionized. Though I'm surprised the private and stuff are not. Don't they make the bulk of a video have?

Voice actors are, many times, Unionized Actors so they belong to SAG-AFTRA. Not all Video games are voiced by an organization that is a SAG Signatory. It costs some money (fees and also lawyers) to become a SAG signatory (I.E. you have come to a legal agreement with the SAG-AFRTA guild to agree to their guidelines for the care and payment of a guild actor) so smaller and medium sized productions aren't always SAG. SAG Actors will sometimes take non-union work, but it's frowned on by the guild. As much as the guild can protect, you also don't want to piss it off.

Really this is about the larger companies: Disney, EA, Activision, Take2, Ubisoft, etc throwing their weight around. Wil Wheaton's blog breaks down what most of the issues are - and they aren't unreasonable especially when it comes down to some of the crazy fines, and the compensation for long recording days.

There is a resistance in the management levels to any of the components of game dev to unionize. I was surprised though that the digital artists haven't unionised in the wake of all the bullshit that went down last year.

Offline Sasmi

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Re: Video game voice actors may go on strike
« Reply #11 on: 09/24/15, 10:38:41 AM »
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I'm glad at least these professionals get union support. I'm not sure if game industry programmers are union or not, but programmers in my experience often believe they don't need to unionize, because things are great! Especially at Amazon, where they sure do love a challenge! Boy howdy!

For the record... yeah, no, basically the only people in the video game industry that are unionized are the actors. >_<

I don't think I've seen any IT industry that is unionized.  Cause if they did start....well...I'd like to help out.

Offline livia

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Re: Video game voice actors may go on strike
« Reply #12 on: 09/24/15, 10:43:07 AM »
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I wish them luck. Even though (like bling) I am not particularly interested in voice acting in my games, I am strongly in favor of labor using its collective power to demand being treated decently by its employers.

Offline Crimsen

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Re: Video game voice actors may go on strike
« Reply #13 on: 09/24/15, 02:45:56 PM »
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That makes sense... Well hopefully things get resolved even if it is at the last minute.

Offline Karmic

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Re: Video game voice actors may go on strike
« Reply #14 on: 09/24/15, 06:34:04 PM »
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I wish them luck. Even though (like bling) I am not particularly interested in voice acting in my games, I am strongly in favor of labor using its collective power to demand being treated decently by its employers.

Here here.

Though I wouldn't say I'm not "intersted" in it; Secret World showed me what voice acting for quests done right can be like (and ever other game has paled in comparison) and of course in single player games yea the cut scenes and voice acting do make a big difference.. Just like the soundtrack.

But I also grew up in the generation that lived off of nothing but text on a green and black/ish screen that was 7 inches tall.

The fact is I doubt the industry (as big as it is now and with the profits expected like they are now) would survive if voice actors went away (entirely; that won't happen but just saying...).  The vast majority of those who spend the cash on the games are console gamers; if voice acting stopped and everyone went back to reading quests and dialogue - I doubt the business would survive as we know it.

Consoles support the gaming industry and what it is now.  There's no need to get an ps4 for a text adventure...  I doubt consoles could just go back to "new graphics but dialogue like Mario Brothers" and they not suffer.

The VA have the power in their hands, and they SHOULD get fair and right representation and working rules (2500 for being late is insane) just like EVERYONE should (and most, even without unions, have).

IF they were to ALL walk out and refuse to edit and record... the gaming industry would have to cave.  But there are always those few who don't, the newbies who will be hired for anything who aren't part of the stand - etc.

The Gaming Industry has a chance to be cutting edge (like other computer businesses have) in their human rights and fair treatment policies.  They've already shown old guard behavior when it comes to females and sex; behavior that wasn't kosher when most of these people were in diapers much less 30 years later...

Why don't they just step-up and at least negotiate on the fair practices and such - the salary then is less of an issue if you give them 80% of everything else they want that all the other actors have and such.

~~

And what IS it with that price point in games? It should have dropped - yeras ago. THe fact that a game is 50/60 in 1984 and in 2015 boggles the mind.  I can't think of anything else that fights inflation and market changes like that!

COurse the fact that the online version of the game with not a single piece of hardcopy to hold on to - is the same price.  Which means, once they went online they at least gained a 30% profit margin - I've heard for decades that "a big chunk of the box price devs never see because the publisher gets it and otherwise games would be cheaper..."  All the way up until at least post-WoW.

So they've already gotten their bigger share and change.

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