A recent LA Times
article explores the "why" of the Screen Actors Guild
's dispute with game publishers over pay for voice actors in video games. The main issue in the contract dispute is the "atmospheric" provision
, which allows the client to use actors in 20 voice roles, up to 300 words, at the "daily base rate" of $800 for four hours of work. The article singles out 38-year-old Dave Wittenberg, who has done extensive video game work
and earns about $30k a year.
Amy Hennig, director of Uncharted 2
, kind of lays out the feelings of many in the video game industry. She expresses that employees of studios may receive discretionary bonuses, but aren't "going to have a lot of sympathy for actors who want back-end residuals." She continues, "That's why we're talking two different languages when we sit down at a bargaining table."
The SAG proposal seems to acquiesce on the contract the publishers want, but asks that actors who play "principal roles" (think Nolan North
) who drive the narrative forward would receive the same fee for three characters and double if they do six to 10 voices in six hours. As actors become more important in the video game industry, expect this issue to grow. Optimistically, if actors begin receiving residuals, it may bleed into development -- a terrifying notion for publishers.