Game Makers Face Voice Actor Strike

    May 17, 2005
    WebProNews Staff

Though optimistic, game makers working with the Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists have not made progress in contract talks.

According to Reuters, a dispute over payments to voice actors linked to game sales has become the sticking point. Members of both unions have authorized leadership to call a strike.

It’s a big business, with video games doing $10 billion USD per year in sales. That’s in line with Hollywood revenues. And actors want a better piece of the action now.

When a movie or television show is shown again, actors receive a “residual” payment for each showing. The unions want similar payments from game companies. That would mean a cut of each game sold.

Game makers want no part of that arrangement. They wish to maintain the up-front payment structure currently in place.

Screen Actor Guild president Melissa Gilbert complained about the arrangement in a statement. “There is only one way to describe their position: completely unreasonable and lacking in any appreciation of the contributions made by actors to the enormous profits enjoyed by this industry,” she said.

The coalition of game makers contend the actors’ role, while important, represents a tiny portion of game production. They used a flowchart measuring fifteen feet long and six feet high to show the unions the development process.

“Their little square on this giant flowchart represented 1/2400th of the labor that went into making a game,” publishers’ lawyer Howard Fabrick said.

David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business. Email him here.