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For voice actors, video games have a serious transparency problem

For voice actors, video games have a serious transparency problem

December 5, 2016 | By Alissa McAloon

December 5, 2016 | By Alissa McAloon
More: Console/PC, Business/Marketing

“I have actors who’ve worked on a game for 2 ½ years and in that time we had no idea what game they were working on.”

- Talent agent Sandie Schnarr says video games are the only industry that regularly keeps actors completely in the dark.

A recent story in The Wall Street Journal explains that it’s not entirely uncommon for actors to provide voice work for a game without ever knowing anything about the game itself. The many examples quoted within the full story highlight what many voice actors say is a transparency issue in the video game industry.

One such actor, Colleen O’Shaughnessey, explained that she only became aware that she’d voiced a character in Fallout 4 when a fan asked her for an autograph at a convention.

Another, Grey Griffin, said that she didn't know she’d voiced one of the protagonist options in Destiny until the son of a family friend recognized her voice while playing the game. 

In addition to highlighting some of the struggles specifically faced by voice actors, this article could also be a good resource for developers that want to understand how to better work with voice talent when casting for their own games.

The article alleges that, while major game companies say that this level of secrecy is necessary, providing actors with minimal information on a job makes it increasingly difficult for them to provide quality voice work.

Some of the actors interviewed said that a lack of information from casting agents led them to miss the mark for an audition or to skip an audition entirely thanks to finding out certain disagreeable things about a game or character only after showing up for the job.

Issues like this with transparency and a current lack of sales-based compensation are what the U.S. screen actors guild SAG-AFTRA says are at the core of the ongoing strike against 11 major video game companies. 

The most recent leg of the strike has been underway since October, following failed negotiations between the two parties, but disagreements between SAG-AFTRA and involved game companies have been going on for more than a year.

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