Video Game Companies “Treat Us Like We Don’t Matter,” Says Veteran Voice Actor
Veteran voice actor Crispin Freeman, who has a plethora of video games under his belt including Batman Arkham, has offered an interesting insight into why things between video game publishers and the SAG-AFTRA union got this far. Speaking to GameSpot, Freeman said that he’s disappointed by what’s happening but that the union has been negotiating with the companies “for 19 months in good faith.” According to him, all voice actors want is “a tiny bit of shared prosperity because right now, they treat us like we don’t matter.”
Freeman revealed that one of the biggest issues is the secrecy involved in this line of work. Video game companies often keep mum about the projects that they intend to hire voice actors for in an attempt to prevent information from leaking out to the public. However, the drawback is that voice actors have no idea what exactly they’re being paid to do and whether they’re being paid fairly to begin with or not. Freeman further explained:
I understand the video game industry is very secretive, and so we told them it doesn’t have to be during auditions. During auditions, keep it all codenames and top secret. But when you decide you want to hire an actor, and you call up their agent and say, ‘We want you for this game,’ you have to tell them what the game is. I don’t know anyone who would go to work not knowing what they’re working on, and yet we’re asked to do this continuously.
I just feel it’s time for the video game industry to put on its big boy pants and act like a proper entertainment company. And they’re deathly afraid of that because they want to be able to exploit actors, they want to be able to exploit developers. They have a culture of exploitation. And they don’t want to give that up because they’re making a lot of money, and they don’t want anyone to impact their bottom line on that.
Freeman went on to say that publishers have explicitly told voice actors during negotiations that they don’t matter and that voices and motion capture are just a tiny part of an overall project.
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