Many Voice Actors Have No Clue What Game They're Working On [UPDATE]

Illustration for article titled Many Voice Actors Have No Clue What Game Theyre Working On [UPDATE]

Last week, members of the Screen Actors Guild‐American Federation of Television and Radio Artists went on strike against key game companies. Per Motherboard, we’re getting a closer look at one of the guild’s complaints.

According to a piece by Emanuel Maiberg, the issue of transparency is far worse than we might have initially thought. Game developers are not required to give voice actors information about what game they are contributing to. It makes it harder for them to negotiate their contract fees.

Motherboard points to the case of Keythe Farley, who voiced the villain Kellogg in Fallout 4. Farley was not aware that he was working on title the Fallout series.


“This benefits producers because agents aren’t able to negotiate when they know an actor is working on a huge game,” he told Motherboard.

In the guild’s formal strike notice, they say the following about transparency:

Transparency: Videogame employers routinely engage performers without identifying the role or even the game that the performer is being engaged to work on and refuse to provide basic information about the nature of the performance that will be expected of them. This deprives the performer of the ability to make a meaningful decision about whether to accept a role or to negotiate appropriate compensation if they do. We are demanding that employers provide performers or their agents with basic information at the time of engagement, including the game, the role and essential information about the nature of the performance.

Update—1:30 p.m: According to a SAG-AFTRA representative, companies have agreed to reveal if an actor’s role is recurring or involves using racial slurs or sexual content but have not agreed to disclose titles.

Responding to the strike, a joint statement by the games industry was released at the end of last week. It claimed that their economic plans were comparable to SAG-AFTRA demands for additional compensation. The strike notice lists royalties and back-end payments as a concern but also mentions vocally straining performance hours and lack of supervisors for stunts.


In a new press release sent out today via email by Singer Associates, Inc the games companies had the following to say about transparency:

The Companies enhanced their proposal to agree to provide the code name of the project and whether the performer will be asked to reprise a previous role. While SAG-AFTRA contends that the video game industry is the only industry not to require an employer to reveal the name of the project on which a performer is working, SAG-AFTRA has no such requirement in Television, Theatrical Motion Pictures or Animation agreements.


Kotaku has reached out to the guild and Bethesda for comment.

Former Senior Writer and Critic at Kotaku.

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That is really cheesy. A voice actor has no ability to tell if they are getting paid what they are worth if they can’t tell what game they are working on, or how significant the part is. The companies have no other excuse than to take financial advantage of the actors ignorance. It may not be illegal, but it sure is pretty scuzzy.