Voice Actors for Video Games Criticised to SAG-AFTRA About Their Contract With An AI Company

Video Game Voice Actors Criticize SAG-AFTRA Over Agreement With AI Company
Video Game Voice Actors Criticize SAG-AFTRA Over Agreement With AI Company | Image Credit: latimes.com

Voice actors are criticising SAG-AFTRA, the organisation that represents them and other entertainment workers, on social media over an agreement it reached with an AI startup on Tuesday that permits video game makers to utilise computerised voice reproductions of performers.

Important Information

  • SAG-AFTRA announced on Tuesday that it has reached an agreement to licence actors’ voices for use in video games with Replica Studios, a company that develops artificial intelligence voice technology.
  • According to the union, the deal would allow Replica to produce and employ digital voice replicas of performers for interactive media projects like video games, “enabling Replica to engage SAG-AFTRA members under a fair, ethical agreement.”
  • According to the union, the agreement will guarantee performers’ agreement and negotiation for the use of their voices, as well as give them the choice not to have their voices used in new works.
  • The deal is “a great example of AI being done right,” according to SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher, even though voice and screen performers continue to disagree over the usage of AI in general.
  • The agreement was “approved by affected members of the union’s voiceover performer community,” according to SAG-AFTRA. However, a number of voice actors filed complaints on X, claiming they were unaware of the agreement, did not approve of it, and were against the idea of using artificial intelligence to mimic their voices.


Famous for his work on “Cowboy Bebop,” “Mortal Kombat,” and “God of War,” voice actor Steve Blum commented on the union’s X post regarding the agreement, saying, “As far as I’m aware, no one in our community approved of this.” My primary source of income has always been games. Who do you mean by that? Voice actor Greg Baldwin of “Avatar: The Last Airbender” said in an X post that the union had “betrayed” voice performers and that he would not sign his own “pink slip.” Casting director Samantha A. Morrison, who specialises in voice acting, charged that the union was “straight up spreading lies” over its assertion that voice actors supported the pact. “A voice actor would never voluntarily endorse this. Voiceover, and the arts in general, are not appropriate for AI. Morrison left an X post. “Every job brings a unique opportunity for an actor to…act,” said Veronica Taylor, whose voice credits include Ash Ketchum in the anime “Pokémon” and Cosmos in the video game title “Final Fantasy.” She questioned how the deal passed without notification or a vote among SAG-AFTRA members. AI replacement promotion and approval is a slippery slope.


According to reports, SAG-AFTRA has been in discussions with big video game firms since 2022, mostly for protections around the use of artificial intelligence and voice actor income. 98.32% of SAG-AFTRA members voted in favour of authorising a strike against ten video game companies in September 2023, but there hasn’t been a work stoppage since the vote. Following five rounds of talks, SAG-AFTRA lead negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland declared that the gaming firms were not “willing to meaningfully engage” and issued a strike threat.

Crucial Quote

I’m not sure what motivates your actions more at this point—direct malice, opportunistic greed, or plain incompetence. Nevertheless, voice actor Damien Haas, who has done voice work for games like “Fortnite” and “Halo,” wrote on X, “You’ve failed us yet again, @sagaftra.”


The main points of contention in the talks between voice actors and big video game companies are similar to those in the talks between screen actresses and major Hollywood studios, which led to a nearly four-month strike that ended in November. After SAG-AFTRA successfully negotiated a contract that changed residual payments and established safeguards for the use of AI in films, the strike—which coincided with a writers’ strike—came to an end, stopping numerous film and television productions. However, some actors criticised a provision that permits studios to deploy nonhuman “synthetic performers,” arguing that the AI protections fell short. The SAG-AFTRA negotiation committee was advised by actress Justine Bateman on artificial intelligence, and she was concerned about possible gaps in the contract. One such hole allows studios to use an actor’s digital double without permission if it is “comment, criticism, scholarship, satire or parody, a docudrama, or historical or biographical work.” Opponents of the contract were denounced by Drescher as “naysayers who have exploited this momentum of ours.”