Why An Overwatch Voice Actor Chose To Go On Strike

The SAG-AFTRA voice strike is continuing on as planned. They've been picketing outside of certain company offices and have continued to negotiate with publishers. Well, one voice actor who worked on Overwatch has explained exactly why they chose to go on strike.

Speaking with Gamespot, actor Crispin Freeman, who voices Winston from Overwatch, explained how he felt about the strike and why he was joining in, saying...

I've been asked to work on games without knowing what the game was and then shown up and been told that I'm going to have to use the N word repeatedly as my character with no warning ahead of time. I've been asked to work on games without them saying that it's the same game again, and so they tried to undercut my salaries. It's a common drone with a lot of video game stuff

Ultimately he says that he just wants voice actors to be respected and for publishers to feel as if their performance matters. Freeman explains that the actors simply want their safety ensured and to know what they're getting into before signing onto a project, and to garner "a tiny bit of shared prosperity". He mentioned that Blizzard isn't being affected by the strike because they've always been good to voice actors, even though their parent company Activision is being affected by the strike.

Scott Witlin, a lawyer who represents the publishers, previously mentioned that they've offered to up the salaries of voice actors but they aren't willing to concede on the residuals front, which is what SAG is hoping to secure for the actors. That would mean that the actors get a small royalty bonus for every so many millions of copies that are sold at certain intervals. Witlin also mentioned that they've already agreed to the stunt coordinator on-set request and that they've partially acquiesced to the information about an upcoming project by letting the actor know if it's something they've worked on previously.

According to Freeman, he feels as if gaming studios need to operate more like television and movie studios, and not give anything away during audition but at least inform the actors about the project once they get signed on.

Unlike movies or TV, though, there's a lot of proprietary tech used in games and developers are extremely secretive of code, design techniques and engines that they don't want getting out or talked about. There have been various cases about companies getting embroiled in legal issues over proprietary technology being used in competing products, in fact ZeniMax sued Oculus for that very thing, and EA and Activision dealt with corporate espionage trying to get or keep their hands on Jason West and Vince Zampella, the masterminds behind the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare series.

The gaming industry is very secretive because there's billions of dollars at stake based on the tech and the minds who produce that tech.

Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see how SAG and the publishers come to an agreement regarding the pay, safety and performance details for the actors. So far SAG has no plans on relenting from the strike, but the publishers aren't willing to give in to all of their demands, either.

Will Usher

Staff Writer at CinemaBlend.