If you’ve been paying attention to entertainment news, then you may know about the SAG-AFTRA voice actors’ strike that went into effect at 12:01 a.m. PT, Oct. 21, 2016. The strike is an organized way for the actors involved to attempt to get a new set of terms & conditions secured for their new contracts, since their old agreement has expired. The reason that this is so important, is because it heavily impacts production of many AAA game titles that a lot of us may be looking forward to getting upon their respective release dates. More than just the pay that these actors receive is at stake here – a lot of this has to do with ensuring that their personal well-being & health is focused upon, as they move their careers forward in voice acting. In addition, this strike is about redefining video games: are they “technology” or are they “entertainment”?
Now, I can’t think of a single gamer who feels that the games we enjoy are not entertainment. We play them in order to unwind, socialize, compete, and sometimes just lose ourselves in worlds we used to only dream about. That being said, because of the level of technology that goes into making these games, and because the devices on which we play typically follow the obsolescence rules of other tech (iterations of tech are said to go obsolete every 2 -3 months), these games could be considered technology, depending on the perspective of the observer.
Take a look at this video, which details a few of the actors involved in the strike. You may recognize a few voices.
There are 11 specific game developers that are the targets of this strike: Activision Publishing, Inc.; Blindlight, LLC; Corps of Discovery Films; Disney Character Voices, Inc.; Electronic Arts Productions, Inc.; Formosa Interactive, LLC.; Insomniac Games, Inc.; Interactive Associates, Inc.; Take 2 Interactive Software; VoiceWorks Productions, Inc.; and WB Games, Inc. These companies say that they are having difficulty understanding SAG-AFTRA’s position in the strike, as it pertains to the specific demands being made. The executives have noted that, with the gaming industry pulling in over $20 billion per year (and rising), they don’t see a reason to update or modernize any agreements with the actors.
With such high-profile companies being involved, and the timelines for video game production being what they are, one has to wonder what kind of impact these companies could experience, as well as what sort of backlash they could hear from the gaming community at large. That being said, it’s been noted in a few places that one of the things that may help in this situation is if we as gamers become more vocal towards the developers to whom we give our business. Talk to them about their labor practices, cheer on the accomplishments of the actors involved, and make our collective voices heard.
What do you think, dear readers? How do you think this will (if at all) affect the future of gaming as a whole? Does this news change the way you see these 11 companies? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!