Drama in the Voiceover World: AI Deal Leaves Actors Fuming

Surprise, Surprise: Voice Actors in the Dark

Drama in the Voiceover. So, there’s this big deal between the actors’ union Sag-Aftra and AI company Replica Studios about using artificial intelligence (AI) voices in games. The catch? Many voice actors, the real MVPs behind those iconic characters, are feeling left out and furious because, apparently, they weren’t even in the loop about this landmark agreement.

“Garbage Deal,” Say Angry Voice Artists

Sag-Aftra claims it’s all about guaranteeing “fully informed consent and fair compensation” for its members. However, the real voices behind our favorite characters are calling it anything but that. Fallout and Mortal Kombat voice actor, Sunil Malhotra, straight-up called the deal “garbage.” Ouch.

Behind the Scenes Shenanigans

In an email to members, Sag-Aftra spilled the tea, saying the deal craft by a committee with “significant and diverse experience performing in games.” Supposedly, it tailor to meet the needs of voice actors, ensuring they know what’s going on and get the pay they deserve. But, here’s the twist – many voice actors are saying, “Hold up, we sacrificed during a strike last year to keep our jobs, not to strike a deal for AI replicas!”

Clash with Past Strikes

This isn’t Sag-Aftra’s first rodeo with AI drama. Last year, they led a months-long strike, fighting against film and TV studios trying to sneak in AI. Now, some voice actors are throwing major side-eye at this new deal, feeling like it’s the opposite of what they fought for.

Union’s Perspective

Sag-Aftra, defending their move, claims the deal approve by the affected members. They argue that in the age of advanced AI tech, it’s crucial to protect the rights of voice talent, especially as game studios eye more efficient ways to bring their characters to life. Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, the union’s chief negotiator, says the deal ensures “fully informed consent and fair compensation” for the use of voice and performances.

Performers Cry Foul

But hold your horses; not everyone is buying it. Steve Blum, a voice actor with a Guinness record for being video game prolific, said he doesn’t know anyone who gave a thumbs up to this deal. The agreement spells out terms for AI-generated voices in video games, but some performers like World of Warcraft’s Andrew Russell are slamming it as “garbage.” Shelby Young, the voice behind Persona 3: Reload’s Yuko, is straight-up “really disappointed” in the union.

Outrage Beyond the Gaming Realm

It’s not just gamers feeling the heat. Voice actors outside the gaming universe, like Joshua Seth (hello, Digimon fans!) and audiobook narrator Paige Reisenfeld, are calling the deal a “big mistake” and feeling “ashamed” that their union payments contributed to it. Even Veronica Taylor, the voice of Ash in Pokemon, is wondering how this went down without a vote.