SAG-AFTRA is looking for an open investigation into the video game industry.
The national executive director of the SAG-AFTRA actor’s guild, David White, published an open letter to the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) requesting a meeting on — and investigation into — the video game voice acting industry.
The letter was sparked after reports of vocal stress from an unknown number of SAG-AFTRA members claiming that the video game industry does not provide adequate safety measures.
In his letter to the California government agency for workplace safety, White says that the number of reports from SAG-AFTRA members who have claimed to have suffered short or long-term vocal chord damage from video game voice acting gigs is increasing, and that many actors are unable to defend themselves because they fear being blacklisted and fired.
“For up to four hours, actors are asked to perform not just voices, but noises, death screams, creature voices, combat yelling and other sounds, with so much force and explosive vibration, that they are causing internal damage to their vocal cords,” writes White, adding that some medical professionals have noted vocal stress from video game voice acting can lead to injuries that require surgery and vocal therapy.
“That strain is preventable, as employers often know the vocal content and the extent of the vocal stress prior to a session,” continues White. “Still, they often deny this information to the actor. Members have also reported that employers will continue to push actors in a vocally stressful session, even though there are audible signs of vocal distress. In fact, we have had reports from members that some employers are offering special numbing candies so that the actors can power through the session without feeling the damage they are doing to their vocal chords.”
White goes on to request an investigation into the workplace conditions of the video game voice acting industry and have “vocally stressful sessions” reduced in duration without hurting compensation.
It’s important to point out that late last year the union got very close to a full-on strike over its negotiations with the video game industry, which include a limit on “vocally stressful” recording sessions and “stunt pay” for its members.
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