For those of you who aren’t as involved in the industry or does not read a lot of video game related news after 2 years of negotiation between SAG-AFTRA (Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) and the video game industry. The voice actors (Some of them) in the video games we are playing have gone on strike. This is actually old news as the strike has been ongoing for a month now, but I decided to touch on the subject after much thought and deliberation. Actors like William Salyers from Mass Effect 3, Grey Griffin from Batman: Arkham Knight, Erin Fitzgerald from World of Warcraft and David Hayter from Metal Gear Solid, have shown support for the strike.
Voice work is a huge part of the modern games industry and the hard work of these voice actors should be compensated fairly. Publishers are well known for taking advantage of performers and voice actors. If you consider that in a game like Call of Duty they only earn 0.03% of the entire game’s revenue. But let me play devil’s advocate for a moment. Voice work that goes into the final product is absolutely minuscule in comparisons to say the people who do the design and coding for video games. And unlike film or television where voice acting work can either make or break a show, video games are a bit different. With games, it’s all about the gameplay.
Voice actors already get an insane amount of money for the extremely little actual work they do when compared to practically all other people involved in the video game design process. No artists, engineers, coders, testers, designers, marketers pull in the same amount paid per hour as voice actors do. Now don’t get me wrong I am not talking about basic working conditions, that is a basic human right. But jumping the fence to the other side of the debate again, video games like the Uncharted series and The Last of Us would not be half as celebrated as they were if the voice acting performances weren’t on the same level as the rest of the game. Logically I can see were the publishers and where the video game industry comes from.
If you are going to pay people who’re involvement in a game is minimal, then the same needs to apply to everyone else, and honestly, games are a business just as much as it is entertainment I can understand that. But the passionate gamer side of me who absolutely adores video game voice actors like Nolan North, Elias Toufexis, and Troy Baker for their amazing voice work in some of my favorite franchises would like to see them get paid more for the work they are doing to keep me entertained for hours. I can only imagine what would happen if Square Enix re-cast Adam Jensen? Elias Toufexis is the character of Adam Jensen at this point. Changing a voice actor would be like changing the lead actor in a movie or TV series.
[Editorial Note 1:] If things don’t change in interactive media industry soon, our video games might just start sounding very different.
[Editorial Note 2:] Yes, I used a Jim Sterling video and while I dislike him and don’t agree with his point’s of view he does make a compelling argument in the above video.