Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Extreme Work Conditions for Gaming Voice Actors

SAG is causing waves in the video game division again, this time issuing a letter to the state of California and OSHA to investigate claims that the extreme work conditions in recording booths are causing damage to vocal cords for a number of actors and actresses. In September last year, the guild was looking to strike against interactive media for unfair practices for pay. One of the goals they were looking to achieve was compensation for excessive vocal work - such as the yelling, screaming, and guttural noises we are use to hearing from our digital avatars. This new issue is part of a long line of problems voice actors have faced for decades, and the growth of video games have made it more prevalent.

David White, SAG's national director, stated that the complaints began coming in back in February when the guild asked their members to respond to an open questionnaire about business practices in the voice recording industry. He noted that a number of actors were experiencing higher rates of cysts, polyps, and cord hemorrhaging for the long hours of recording sessions. Several of the complaints claim that actors are not given a chance to warm up their vocal cords, have to scream for several hours without breaks, and they are given "candies" that help reduce the feeling of pain on their throats while continuing to work.

Many fear losing their job if they brought up concerns with their employer. The majority of voice actors are contract based and work per job. They are not guaranteed positions, unless you are lucky enough to land a television show with a re-occurring role. Video games? Not so much. Even Konami replaced David Hayter, legendary voice of Snake, with another. No voice acting gig is secure.With that increased pressure to perform, actors are more likely to ignore the conditions around them.

SAG is still negotiating with major game developers to come to a resolution with the strike, and this latest concern could throw more headaches into the mix. It's up to the state of California and OSHA on how they wish to proceed.


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