I stumbled upon a blog post on Wil Wheaton's blog via Penny Arcade yesterday that I found interesting. It seems there was a recent threat of a strike by the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) on behalf of voice actors in video games which got them improved pay. This seems to have led to somewhat of a backlash from some video game developers. Wil writes
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.
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.
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.
Given that video games seem to have the same hit-centric characteristics of movies and music I can see why there is the school of thought that expects developers to get a percentage of the take if it is a hit. I doubt the status quo will ever change without some organized effort on the part of video game developers.
The comments in response to Wil's post also contain some interesting viewpoints for and against his position. I was actually surprised that there was anything in his post to take offence at but people have a way of surprising me.