Are Video Games Dangerous for Voice Actors?

Voice acting may seem like an easy job. You go in, wear whatever you want, act out lines, and go home. Depending on the role, it’s sometimes like that, however it’s not always. It can be incredibly taxing, strenuous and painful- especially when recording video games. Hours can be/are spent grunting, screaming, crying and exclaiming (it’s a draining process). It can not only leave actors exhausted, but it can also cause stress on their vocal chords and even cause them to temporarily (or for long periods of time) lose their voice. However, if they have a competent voice director who doesn’t push them and and breaks apart voice sessions (eight hour session into four separate two hour sessions) then usually all is fine. However, it’s currently been discovered this isn’t entirely so.

According to , SAG-AFTRA has requested an investigation to be conducted on behalf of the mistreatment of voice actors. The union’s national executive director David White had this to say, “increasing numbers of voiceover actors are reporting that they are experiencing both short-term and/or long-term damage to their vocal cords, due to the intensity of the vocal demands put on to them by the employers.” Since the AFTRA Interactive Agreement expired in 2014 the union’s been trying to struck a similar proposal with gaming companies. Although, it’s been alleged that the gaming industry hasn’t cooperated with forming another agreement; so they’ve requested that California’s occupational safety regulators look into the matter.

Some members from the union have experienced this problems firsthand, and have reported nearly fainting or fainting, losing their voice for months, bleeding in their mouths and or their vocal range being permanently altered. According to SAG-AFTRA, two physicians have documented that “the vocal stress from video games is causing medical problems that include vocal nodules, cysts, polyps and, in some cases, cord hemorrhaging.” The gaming industry’s chief negotiator and lawyer Scott Willin hasn’t released a comment about this matter yet. In a letter to Cal/OSHA’s regional manager, the union has requested that these type of sessions (where yelling and wailing is involved, for example) be reduced.

It’s obvious this is a distressing issue; as a voice actor’s main tool is their voice. This is how they make their livelihood, and they can’t afford to lose it. In a similar way to how athletes practice to keep their arms and legs in peak condition; voice actors take precautionary measures to make sure their tool is fortified and shipshape. They also need an understanding and decent voice director who not only understands this, but also knows to not overexert them. Hopefully, some of these gaming companies who are abusing their actors will stop this and get with the program. Now, to those gaming companies who are the exception to this terrible incident, thank you!

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I’m an aspiring writer, filmmaker, actress and animator. I also write articles on the side. [email protected]