The guild representing voice actors declared a strike date of October 21, should this week’s critical contract negotiations with gaming industry publishers fail to reach agreement. The Screen Actors Guild- American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) has been trying to work out deals with the video game industry for over a year. So far, not a single negotiation has succeeded.

That’s what makes this week’s negotiations from October 17-19 all the more crucial. SAG-AFTRA will be meeting with major gaming industry companies to negotiate and revise voice actor contracts. According to SAG-AFTRA, this negotiation session’s goal is “creating a fair contract that is rooted in industry standards and best practices.”

Video game employers use an agreement drafted, negotiated, and agreed on in the mid-1990s. SAG-AFTRA’s strike notice points out that these contracts haven’t change, “despite radical changes in what we are required to do on set and in the recording studio.”

You can read their demands here. This includes residual fees for highly successful games, accounting for vocal stress, and implementing standards for safety for motion-capture and other stunt-based work.

Well-known voice actors have openly supported the strike. Roger Craig Smith, best known as Ezio in the Assassin’s Creed series and the current voice of Sonic the Hedgehog, has Tweeted his support of the strike. Jennifer Hale and Will Wheaton have also Tweeted the #PerformanceMatters hashtag that pro-strike voice actors have been using.

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The strike will affect eleven major companies in the gaming industry, including industry giants like Activision, EA, and Disney Character Voices. Here’s the full list.

  • Activision
  • Blindlight
  • Corps of Discovery Films
  • Disney Character Voices
  • Electronic Arts
  • Formosa Interactive
  • Insomniac Games
  • Interactive Associates
  • Take-Two
  • VoiceWorks Production
  • WB Games

The gaming industry, of course, hasn’t left this strike announcement ignored. Scott J. Witlin, the lawyer representing the video game industry in the negotiations, has stated that the industry is “deeply disappointed” by the strike date announcement. You can read his full stance below.

“We consider the Union’s threatened labor action to call a strike precipitous, unnecessary, and an action that will only harm their membership. SAG-AFTRA represents performers in less than 25 percent of the video games on the market. Any strike would not only deny SAG-AFTRA’s membership work, but this would also give their competitors, who do not engage union talent, a leg up while any strike would be in place.”

In terms of working conditions, he argues that their demands about vocal stress and injury are unfounded. Citing statistics of low workplace injury or cases of vocal stress injury, he argues the regulations SAG-AFTRA has drafted are unnecessary. He states that, “Companies have continued to look to ways to reduce the burdens on performers in this area through the more flexible work scheduling and other innovative work arrangements.”

He may have had harsh words directed towards the strike, but he believes in finding agreement at this week’s negotiations. “Reaching a reasonable agreement is in the best interest of all parties, as well as the many fans of our games.”

SAG-AFTRA seems to have little faith that they’ll finally meet an agreement. After all, their longterm efforts at negotiation have completely failed. The strike has been almost inevitable for a long time now.

If the strike does happen, this will effect voice acting, motion or performance capture work, consenting to the reuse of prior work into a game, performing on a trailer for a game affected by the strike and performing on DLC, and more. Not all games under the eleven previously mentioned publishers will be effected. The focus of the strike are games that went into production after February 17, 2015.

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