A loss of voice: Voice actors going on strike

Video game voice actors appeal for a restructure to the harsh conditions they currently work under.

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.

The Problem

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.

The Solution

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.


Joshua Potter (AmeNemA) is an avid video game player, having been hunting ducks and collecting coins since he was a toddler. Now he applies his years of knowledge to writing about the games he's come to love.

Published Jun. 9th 2016
  • Jeffrey Rousseau
    Man this sucks & it's really disheartening when others are willing to do it for less & etc.

    This is really a case of you don't what my job is like unless you do it.

    I think I saw comments from people in the industry scoffing that VA work isn't hard.

    Like huh? You jumo into a booth & give us quality acting in a range of emotions for hours on end.

    I hope things get better & they respect their work.
  • Joshua Potter
    Agreed. The problems also affect their ability to work. People are not disposable resources. Once you've ruined this person's ability to perform, that's it. You've taken away what they do for a living and you move on like you did nothing wrong?
  • Angelina Bonilla
    Featured Correspondent
    If the Industry wants to continue to make successful games with voice acting, they need to give the VA's better conditions. This is a great article on the subject, nice job.
  • Dustin Frisch
    Basically similar to the 2007–08 Writers Guild of America strike then?
  • Joshua Potter
    It seems likely, yes. Unfortunate how much these people have to push back in order to receive treatment that would otherwise seem like common sense.

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