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The voice actors behind some of the industries most popular video games are preparing to vote on whether they will hold a strike in protest of the current treatment of voice-over actors by producers. #PerformanceMatters spawned on Twitter slightly less than a month ago, to prepare for several panels discussing the proposition. As of this morning, the union SAG-AFTRA (a merge between the Screen Actor’s Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) began taking votes on their proposed negotiations. The negotiations are part of a larger effort called Interactive Negotiations, which began as early as February, when the union and production leaders first met. This included companies like EA, Disney, Warner Bros., and Activision. The two sides met again in June, but no agreement could be reached. In February, the companies submitted their own proposal, among which included some questionable requirements, including fines up to $100,000 (which can be applied to either offending party) and a policy which does not allow agents to refuse to represent to certain companies or projects. The vote represents a final push by the union. This is the first time serious negotiations in the video game industry have been held for voice actors since the 1990s, when the policy still currently in use was first drafted. 

According to their FAQ, 75% of voters would have to vote “Yes” to approve the proposal. If it passes, all union members would start the strike, and even non-members would be encouraged and requested to join as well. The hashtag is part of an effort to gain public support, as well as support of less active members. The proposal summary is public, and includes demands such as more information about projects up front, bonuses, and special payment for “vocally stressful” performances. The proposal also covers safety and stunt work for performance capture. The union claims that, if the proposal were unsuccessful, voice actors and agents could be subject to unfair or subjectively applied fines. It also points out that performance capture artists are not technically covered under the current policy, or at least, that is the interpretation of the producers. 

Votes on the strike began on September 16th and will go until October 5th, at which point the final tally will be counted. Supporters are encouraged by the union to use the hashtag #PerformanceMatters as well as the hashtag #IAmOnBoard2015, to spread awareness about the proposal. Several well known voice actors have already spoken out in favor of the proposal, including Tara Strong from the Arkham series and David Hayter, the English voice behind Solid Snake. 

Voice acting has become a huge part of the industry, as AAA games rely heavily on them to help tell their stories. Some of the most highly praised games of this year relied heavily on a narrative style of storytelling, and the increased importance as well as the progress of technology means some kind of negotiation is necessary. Whether voice actors are ready to go on strike for their demands, or if they agree with the current proposal, will be determined in October. However, other members of the development community aren’t impressed by the hashtag, believing it to be pushed by Hollywood standards, but point out that everyone in development deals with problems like these. 


Kindra Pring

Staff Writer

Teacher's aid by day. Gamer by night. And by day, because I play my DS on my lunch break. Ask me about how bad my aim is.