Unionized Video Game Voice Actors Vote for the Right to Strike

The gaming industry has come a long way from the basic, traditional vertical arcade games found in arcades of the 1980s. Today, video games are present in homes across the country and the world, whether in the form of a classic cabinet, a console or a smartphone. It takes an intense commitment to crafting high-quality games, something the members of the Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG – AFTRA) know firsthand. Since the union has been unable to come to a new agreement with major game publishers, it held a community-wide vote on whether or not a strike was in order.

Voice Actors Want Adequate Compensation

The vote passed successfully, with 96.52 percent of members voting in favor of a strike, however, the strike will not take place right away. The National Board will again try to negotiate terms with major game publishers, with the knowledge on the table that if no agreement is reached, a strike will happen immediately.

Voice actors who are members of the union have previously signed agreements with EA, Activision, Warner Bros. and many other publishers, but the union’s prior agreement expired at the end of 2014. Since then, both sides have been negotiating new terms of a contract, but have been unable to find common ground.

The union wants the new contract to include the potential for “back-end bonuses” when games featuring union members sell more than 2 million copies. They also want full disclosure on work opportunities before committing to a lengthy audition process. They would like increased compensation for work that is considered “vocally stressful.”

What Happens if Voice Actors Strike?

It is not in the gaming industry’s best interests to have the union go on strike, as they would be required to find new voice talent outside of the union. This would prove to be a difficult task, since not many voice actors would want to stray outside the union’s protections, given that once an agreement does go through, they could find themselves out of work for the long-term.

In the meantime, negotiations will proceed once again, with both sides hopefully agreeing to a deal that offers compromise and concessions to voice actors and the gaming industry.