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Games Entertainment

SAG Rejects Game Contract 65

Reuters is reporting that the Screen Actor's Guild has rejected the contract with the Games Industry, despite earlier signs negotiations would be successful. From the article: "The Screen Actors Guild's bitter infighting claimed another victim Tuesday as members of the national executive committee voted to reject the recently negotiated video game contract against the wishes of members and the negotiating committee. It is believed to be the first time in the union's 72-year history that board members have used the routine approval process to overrule the unanimous recommendations of a negotiating committee."
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SAG Rejects Game Contract

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  • Alec Baldwin: "....way to go, FAG."
  • by JFMulder ( 59706 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @12:38PM (#12881871)
    I prefer how the South Park/Team American guys call them. The Film Actors Guild, also known as FAG.
  • And how could this be?

    Because SAG is trying to get the games industry to go COMPLETELY union.
    • Really?

      That must be why they consistently ignored the plaintive cries from programmers, artists, designers, and other members of the game development teams that they deserve residuals before voice actors do.

      The SAG execs don't give a rat's ass about the games industry, or about their own rank-and-file members, for that matter. They saw an opportunity to land some significant cash in the form of residuals for their top members whenever popular games sign brand-name actors (think the GTA series). The earl
    • By RTFA you can see that there are two separate groups in SAG that are going at it therefore the deal fell through. The Restore Respect is the group that has the president of SAG (Melissa Gilbert) as its head. MembershipFirst! is the group that doesn't want the president of SAG in power. So they split over everything as MembershipFirst! wants to toss Melissa Gilbert out of power. By ruining the deal MembershipFirst! can point at Restore Respect as not getting things done for the rank and file.
      • "While the negotiators unanimously recommended that the contract be approved, they did so only reluctantly after failing to get member support for a strike.

        Even then, with almost no other option but to accept the gaming industry's final offer, some of the more militant negotiators still demanded that the contract be rejected, sparking one of the most embarrassing rebellions in recent memory. "

        They don't want this contract and only want Restore Respect out so they can bully the union into striking against
  • Screw 'em (Score:4, Interesting)

    by LSD-OBS ( 183415 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @12:46PM (#12881963)
    • I can dig that, if they want to be greedy, they can rot... while we are waiting for that fine technology (since you can't patent a voice, I'd imagine it'll work quite well) ... the industry can find plenty of other voices, I'm sure...


      Heck I have a few in my head they could use.
    • When Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within was being hyped up before it was released, people were saying the same thing in reference to digital actors. Don't see too many people saying that now.

      • There are more "digital actors" now than ever before. Think about any mass battle scene in any of the recent blockbusters (the Matrix sequels, Troy, the Star Wars prequels, etc), or any of the tons of CG animated movies around these days. However, they all rely on actors' voices to give them human character.

        The point of the developments in voice sythensis as linked above is that if you have enough controlled samples of anybody's voice, you can reproduce how they talk almost indistinguishably. The article s
  • Hopefully that means no more main characters voiced by David Duchovny (XIII, Area 51).
    Though his voice does work better than counting sheep... zzzzzzzz...
  • The Guild does not take orders from you! []

    <insert funky hand motions here>

  • by Shihar ( 153932 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @12:51PM (#12882019)
    I would rather video game makers drag people in off the street and hand out the voice acting spots to desperate college kids who will work for pennies then get some 'high quality' voice acting at the expense of a couple of programmers. Of all the things I would like to see video games focus more on, voice acting is exactly last. I would pick a fiction writer to write a good story, another programmer to debug, another programmer to optimize performace, a dozen more beta testers, or a number of other things over voice actors. The thought of giving risiduals to voice actors makes me sick. I can't think of a bigger waste of money. If SAG can't get its shit together and offer a reasonable contract, I hope the gaming industry merrily points them to the picket lines where they can rot until hell freezes over and have no one care.

    Good voice acting is nice, but it is hardly on my top 10 as a consumer of games. I can stomach half assed voice acting if the game is bug free and well written. I can't stomach a game with bugs and poor writing though, even if the voice acting kicks ass.
    • You clearly never played Final Fantasy X.

    • Damned good idea...I'm certain that there's college students out there who would enjoy working as voice talent for a pittance...hell, I'd do it for free, just to have my name in the credits.

      How about this? Put up a script on a web page...anyone who wants can record a MP3 of themselves reading the lines and email it in. The game people pick which voice they want to use, and give the submitter credit for his work. SAG not required...thanks anyway.

    • Bullshit. Well done voice acting adds a LOT to a game. Terrible voice acting absolutly detracts from a game. Compare the acting in RE1 "master of unlocking" with the voice acting in Chronicals of Riddick.

      Fact is visuals and sound are the two senses that video games have to deal with. Ignoreing one is just silly.

      • Sure it adds something to a game. The question is, how much? For most games, the answer is not that much.

        Take the game Vampires: Bloodlines. The game was solid in concept. It had three problems though. First, it was buggy beyond all comprehension. Second, it ate system for breakfast, even though the graphics were nothing to get too excited about. Third, the voice acting sucks. The game was a failure and the company went under. A few fans an ex-employees got together and patched the game up though.
        • >Sure it adds something to a game. The question is, how much?
          >For most games, the answer is not that much.

          I would like to respectfully point out that good voice acting is one of several elements that a well-produced game has to have in order to succeed. You're correct in pointing out that a game with bugs and bad voice acting will benefit more from bug fixes than voice acting; however, a truly stellar game will have neither serious bugs or distracting voices.

          I make my case with a short list of games
      • Just to be fair. Just because the price is cheap and the voice actor is not experienced does not mean it's not going to be good. There are prenty up and coming artists who probally wouldn't ask completely insane prices to a chance to get spotlighted.

        On a similar thought, I hate it (in animated films or games) where the voice is so dominate that it overshadows that art. (examples, the complete Madegascar (spelling) lineup, Sam L Jackson in GTA:SA, etc etc)
      • You do realize that the acting in Resident Evil was supposed to be campy and terrible, right? The whole game was an homage to the concept of the B-movie. Good acting would've completely ruined that.

      • Fact is visuals and sound are the two senses that video games have to deal with. Ignoreing one is just silly.

        Not to be nitpicky, but what about the sense of touch? I would think that would be incredibly important, especially with today's hardware (vibrating controllers, pressure-sensitive buttons, etc.) and peripherals.

        But even so, a third is still a lot. Seeing as how voice acting is a given in so many games these days, I agree that it should be done well whenever possible.

      • Compare the acting in RE1 "master of unlocking"

        That example shows why acting is unimportant... who cares about acting quality when the script is so bad? A good writer / translator and a decent director are what's needed there. Even if they'd hired Harrison Ford, he couldn't make "You, the master of unlocking, should take it with you" sound cool.

        Fact is visuals and sound are the two senses that video games have to deal with.

        True, but voice acting is a tiny part of the sound experience of a game. Fol
  • How many games are sold strictly on the strength of a SAG member's likeness being in it? I can't think of a title (unless we count John Madden, et. al.).
    • Yeah, usually not... although movie licensed titles often use the real actors (i.e. Batman Begins), it is rarely the focus of their marketing or advertising, and considering lots of those games are targeted towards kids, kids probably wouldn't even notice when the real actors aren't used (i.e. Shrek 2). But, it is a nice bonus when people like Samuel L. Jackson show up in games like GTA:SA.

      btw, I doubt John Madden is a member of SAG.
      • as an addendum to my post, I should say that even when they aren't the "real" movie actors, they are still SAG. But since people were talking about whether or not it was important to hire big name actors, I guess that kind of confused the real issue, which is SAG vs. your average voice actor off the street.
    • It's not about likenesses, it's about getting actual actors to do the voice acting.

      There's thousands of actors in SAG who aren't Sam Jackson or Harrison Ford. If you want professional-quality voice acting, you're going to get guild actors.

      Sure, game makers could have their programmers or people on the street do the voices, but then you end up with crappy voice acting, which gets real annoying before long.
      • Just because they're in the union doesn't mean they deserve the title of a voice actor. Many games with professional voice acting sound as if they'd let the coders record the voices.
        • XIII
          I can't say i'm a fan, but I do like David Duchovny quite a bit. However, his acting in XIII was AWFUL. In the opening scene, where he says "Ugh, my head." it sounded like he had picked up a piece of paper and was reading it to himself out loud, trying to figure out what it was saying. And his performance through the rest of the game wasn't much better.
          This is one instance where it would have been better to get some random person to read the script than going with a highly-recognizable actor.
      • There's tons of poor students in theatrics who can act. The trouble is getting that one male actor who doesn't exude that strange homosexual voice pattern stereotyped on TV, or is able to at least overcome it. Because pretty much every video game is about Mr The Man kicking ass, taking names and chewing bubblegum, or Madam Buxum doing those exact same things while managing a pair breasts that seem to move of their own free will.
  • This is terrible news. How on earth will an industry that is putting a lot into R&D to develop virtual beings with simulated appearances and voices going to get actors to do voice overs and appear in mini-movies?

    Oh, hold on, I think I have an idea on how they can do it...

  • by darkmayo ( 251580 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @02:14PM (#12882809)
    Is the rejection based on them not getting the "residuals" or was there something more?

    I recall reading an entry on Wil's site
    " 03293 [] "

    that had the perspective from the non big name hollywood voice actors, was very good as well there is a recent addition responding to the personal attacks Wil recieved shortly after his orginal post.

    I think we forget about the majority of actors that do voice actor.. I am not talking hollywood A-list types but the guy who does it along with working at Starbucks or where ever.

    But i'd like to know more about what they are really demanding before I make my judgement.
    • I have no inside knowledge of this at all, but it sounds to me like it's political posturing within SAG, pure and simple. One faction wants to appear militantly pro-membership (at the expense of all else), and they're in a position to throw their weight around. It's not really a question of reason or rightness or anything else, it's all about making a scene, drawing a line in the sand, and turning the other side into "pro-industry" stooges.
  • They thought they were going to have a contract with the entire games industry?

    Excuse me while I catch my breath from laughing so hard.

    Looks like game developers will have to continue doing what they do most of the time... Hire non-union talent.

    Oh no.
  • This is how I imagined the conversation went between the game industry and SAG

    SAG: Well, we get points and residuals in movies.
    Game Industry: We don't make movies.
    SAG: Yes, we understand that. But, points/residuals is how SAG has always operated.
    GI: Yeah, but we don't make movies.
    SAG: Yes, I understand that, but that's how we've always worked.
    GI: And the game industry has always worked without residuals.
    SAG: But, but, but...fine, we strike.
    GI: Fine. AFTRA has agreed to our most recent con
  • The fact of the matter is that games have thrived for many years before they even had voice acting. Losing a bunch of overpriced, self important little shits isn't going to hurt the industry.

    In fact, it may end up helping the industry by freeing it from the whiny bitches in Holywood and encouraging game companies to hire people off the street who can do the job just as well but will work for peanuts.

    In short, fuck SAG.
  • Seriously These guys aren't making millions...I KNOW VIDEO GAME VOICE ACTORS...not one of them pulls even a "normal" 30k salary based off their Voice work. Most of them get a few good day or two jobs a year ..maybe 10, 1 hour or two sessions. so that ends the "they are making more than the programmers" arguement. Even these changes will not change that. Next arguement "They will have to hire less programmers...skimp in other places...etc" You have no frigging CLUE what you are talking about...Risidual

    • fuck my wonderful stupidity...

      Here's a properly formatted one:

      Seriously These guys aren't making millions...
      I KNOW VIDEO GAME VOICE ACTORS... not one of them pulls even a "normal" 30k salary based off their Voice work. Most of them get a few good day or two jobs a year.. maybe 10, 1 hour or two sessions.

      So that ends the "they are making more than the programmers" arguement. Even these changes will not change that.

      Next arguement "They will have to hire less programmers...skimp in other places...etc"

      • Guess what? If they can't make any money off of it then they can go get another job.

        I know a guy who builds and paints models on commission for table-top war games like Warhammer. Some months he can make upward of $1000 - but most of the time he only gets a few hundred a month. That's not enough to live off of... which is why he has a real job, too.

        If voice actors actually feel like they should get paid enough doing 10 hours of work a year to live off of, I have no sympathy for them. They're complaini
    • >>Seriously These guys aren't making millions...I
      >>KNOW VIDEO GAME VOICE ACTORS...not one of them
      >>pulls even a "normal" 30k salary based off their
      >>Voice work. Most of them get a few good day or
      >>two jobs a year ..maybe 10, 1 hour or two >>sessions. so that ends the "they are making more
      >>than the programmers" arguement.

      So? You work a 'few hours' on a project, and you expect to get a share of profits? (or 'risiduals' or whatever games you want to play). Um... fuck
    • It doesn't matter how you format it, your post is still uneducated crap.

      Why should some voice actor doing work-for-hire get residuals for their miniscule contribution to a game when the designers, level builders, programmers, and artists don't get any? So a voice actor puts in a few hours and gets a few hundred dollars, why should that contribution be considered more important than any of the work done by the people who designed and build the game? Games aren't movies. The members of SAC aren't the import

    • so that ends the "they are making more than the programmers" arguement.

      That never has been an argument. What everyone's been saying is that programmers work 60+ hours a week for two years straight, yet a voice actor comes in for a few hours and makes more than $150 an hour. If a programmer got paid that kind of rate, they'd be raking in close to half a million dollars a year.

      Next arguement "They will have to hire less programmers...skimp in other places...etc" You have no frigging CLUE what you are ta
  • So, a union executive has ignored the wishes of its members to score points in its own factional infighting?

    Cue the sound of people familiar with unions falling over with not suprise.

  • Personally, I don't give a rats ass about voice acting in video games. In most games I play, I have the sound turned down because listening to the same redundant soundtracks over and over again drives me insane. For me, video games are all about the story and voice acting DOES NOT IMPROVE STORY. Besides, half the time they talk too fucking slow. I can read a hell of a lot faster than they can talk and I don't like getting bogged down by some slow-reading voice actor [I know if the actor reads slow it's

In seeking the unattainable, simplicity only gets in the way. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982