A loss of voice: Voice actors going on strike
The video game market has been exploding over the past twenty years. As technology has been improving, so has our gaming. Video games are more closely resembling live-action movies each day, and as such, have also gained actors playing the parts of our favorite characters. Recently, those same actors have begun to support a letter, written by the Screen Actor's Guild's National Executive Director David P. White, appealing for better working conditions for voice actors, especially in regards to video games.
You may be thinking, "how hard is it to do voice acting? I talk all day and these guys get payed to do it. On top of that, they're working in video games! What's the downside?" One key difference is that your speech is at your own discretion. It's a bit different when your job calls for you to do death screams or alien battle cries and need to be finished within a strict timeline, or be replaced by someone else. White also mentions that some employers are encouraging actors to use numbing lozenges or sprays so that the actor can continue to work through the pain.
Mr. White also cites an Otolaryngologist, doctors that deal with diseases and disorders regarding the throat, who states that current working conditions have caused documented medical problems like cysts, polyps, and even cord hemorrhaging. These types of symptoms can require treatment ranging from long term rest, to surgery, and speech-pattern therapy.
They're also potentially career ending for voice actors.
In the open letter, White's solution calls for reduced duration of work hours as well as no loss in compensation. From a business standpoint, this is a pipe dream. Most organizations nowadays are well aware of their near limitless pool of people willing to work for less, for longer hours, or people simply looking for exposure. This type of management results in a race to the bottom, where quality suffers due to inexperienced actors that are rotated in and out so the companies can get the work done quickly, as opposed to effectively.
This is why it is rumored a strike is being considered. Until an amicable solution can be found that will please both sides, it is quite possible that the actors will decide to unite against these conditions. Some voice actors have taken to Twitter as well, to share their opinions on the matter under the hashtag #PerformanceMatters.
Fryda Wolff has done voice work in blockbuster games such as Fallout 4 and XCOM 2, as well as in anime such as Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin. According to her claim, not only did she become hoarse for some time after her recording session, but she also has since completely lost her upper range in singing. She's not the only one.
As of right now, there are no official plans of action. Considering the dangers faced by voiced actors, it may not only cause serious health damage, but also threatens these performers ability to act. It will likely come to a boil soon, if measures are not taken to improve their working conditions.