Last month we reported that The Screen Actors Guild - American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA for short) in the US was holding a vote to see if its members would support strike action in order to improve the working conditions of voice actors in the video game sector and gain fresh pay incentives, such as financial rewards for starring in games that sold over a certain amount.
The impetus for the vote was the expiration of the previous "Interactive Media Agreement" in December last year. Negotiations in February and June this year were inconclusive and failed to please members of the union. Actor Wil Wheaton - famous for his role in Stand By Me but now firmly established as a leading light in the voice-acting community (he was President Abraham Lincoln in Code Name: S.T.E.A.M.) - was very vocal in his support of strike action.
The vote needed 75 percent to proceed, and it has now been reported that 96.52 percent of union members were in favour, meaning strike action has been authorised. That means that although no strike is in place as yet, SAG-AFTRA can now return to the negotiating table in a stronger position.
SAG-AFTRA objectives cover several different areas. It wants to secure residuals for games selling upwards of 2 million copies, and wants stunt coordinators to be present for risky motion-capture shoots. It's also after "stunt pay" for "vocally stressful" recording sessions (ones which require a lot of shouting or screaming), and greater transparency in what each actor's work will be used for. As Wheaton himself pointed out, voice actors often don't have a solid idea of what context their recordings will be used in.
Amendments to the old union agreement are also on the table. For example, employers were previously allowed to fine actors up to $2500 for being "inattentive". This could be for something as trivial as checking your mobile phone during a lull in a session, for example.
Wheaton isn't the only famous voice behind this motion. Jennifer Hale (Mass Effect series), David Hayter (Metal Gear Solid), Steve Blum (Vanquish), Elias Toufexis (Deus Ex: Human Revolution) and Tara Strong (Batman: Arkham City) are also in favour of strike action. Troy Baker and Nolan North - arguably the two biggest stars of the voice acting community - have remained silent on the matter thus far.