on tenth floor
Since I wrote about voice actors the other day, I've been personally attacked, called names, and vilified all over the Internets, often by people whose work I respect and admire. I'm not under the delusion that I'm going to change any minds, but this has bothered me all weekend, so I want to just clarify a couple of things:
- I am proud of my union, and I completely support my fellow working actors. I'm not going to apologize for that. However, I've read several other blogs, and comments on my own blog, which suggest that I believe that actors should get paid before or instead of the other people who work on the game. I never said that, and I don't feel that way.
- Most actors don't live in huge mansions, drive around in expensive cars, and live the lifestyle many people seem to think we do. I, for example, still live paycheck to paycheck. I'm not complaining, just trying to correct what I believe is a serious misconception.
- For many of the actors who are affected by this contract, the raise they will get — the first in twelve years — could make the difference between having health coverage, or being uninsured. I think that's pretty important.
- I completely respect and admire the people who work so hard to create the games that we all love to play. The blog I wrote, from a working actor's perspective, was in no way meant to demean or disrespect the people who are currently very busy attacking me, my union, and my fellow actors. Without you guys, there wouldn't even be a game for us to perform in, much less play. I sincerely hope that you all get the recognition and compensation that you clearly deserve.
I'd also like to reprint a few things I wrote to a developer whose work I very much enjoy and admire:
I completely support developers getting seriously improved wages, including profit-sharing. As many have pointed out, without the developers, there is no game, so when a game (or the engine that drives it) really takes off, the people who created the damn thingAs I said, I don't expect this to change any minds, but I hope it clarifies some things, at least a little bit. But just to belabor one point, because this is incredibly important to me: I did not intend to disrespect, discount, or demean developers, level designers, artists, programmers, or any of the people who put thousands of hours into the games they help create. I know what it feels like when someone insults and belittles the work you do, and if I caused anyone to feel that way, I sincerely apologize.
should absolutely share in the profits their hard work helped create.
It seems like many developers are angry with SAG because SAG stood up for its members, which is what a union is supposed to do. It just doesn't make any sense to me that SAG is being viewed with such animosity, just for doing its job. Actors represent less than 3% of the total budget on games, so it's incredibly unlikely that if SAG were able to make some residual gains, it would even affect developers' pay. I could be wrong, but I seriously doubt that producers are going to tell developers that they can't afford to pay them, because actors are now taking up 4.5% or 5% of the budget.
SAG doesn't have it out for developers, and neither do I. SAG doesn't want actors to profit at the expense of developers, and neither do I. To be honest, I bet you that the SAG negotiating committee didn't spend any time thinking about developers — not because SAG doesn't respect the incredibly hard work developers do, but because SAG is an actors union, and is therefore focused on actors' interests.
I don't understand what developers gain by spending energy attacking SAG, when SAG is just doing what its membership expects it to do. As far as I can tell, voice actors and developers have the same ultimate goal, and I just don't get why developers are so angry with SAG for trying to reach that goal. It seems like a lot of developers and gamers are pissed at SAG because SAG has the ability to stand up to our employers and ask for better wages, and from an Art of War standpoint, that is an awfully huge waste of energy. It makes much more sense to me for developers to take that energy and those resources, point it at producers, and take the fight to them. Because, ultimately, getting angry at SAG, or me, or other working actors, isn't going to get developers better contracts or profit-sharing. All it's going to do is take focus away from the people who can make those things happen.