Bayonetta actor sparks debate over paying video game artists after ‘insulting’ offer | cbc radio

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Gamers all over the world eagerly awaited the release of bayonet 3the latest in a series of stylish action games, on Nintendo Switch.

But the release has been mired in controversy after the actor who voiced the title character in previous installments instead called on fans to boycott it.

On October 15, British actress Hellena Taylor posted a series of videos on her Twitter account, saying that developer Platinum Games offered her $4,000 to reprise her role in bayonet 3. She described the offer as “an insult”.

He then asked players to boycott the game and donate to charity instead. The videos have been viewed more than 9.7 million times on Twitter.

“I didn’t want the world, I didn’t ask for too much. I was just asking for a decent, decent, living wage. What they did was legal, but it was immoral,” Taylor said, adding that she was breaking a non-disclosure agreement to speak online.

The resulting fallout has also resurrected arguments that video game and animation voice actors are often paid much less than their TV and film counterparts, arguments that erupted during a nearly year-long strike that began in 2016.

different accounts

Platinum Games co-founder Hideki Kamiya did not directly address Taylor’s accusations, but tweeted, “Sad and deplorable at the attitude of falsehood” later that day.

Kamiya, who can get notoriously quick to anger on Twitter, temporarily closed his account after blocking dozens of fans who expressed support for Taylor.

On Tuesday, a report by Jason Schreier of Bloomberg offered a different account. He cited unnamed sources familiar with the negotiations, who claimed that Platinum Games offered Taylor between $3,000 and $4,000 per recording session to bayonet 3for a total of about $15,000.

That’s about three times or more the standard minimum recording pay for a video game artist, according to the SAG-AFTRA union’s rate sheet.

The Bloomberg report said Taylor turned down that offer and asked for a six-figure salary as well as residuals from game sales, after which negotiations broke down.

In an email to Bloomberg, Taylor called this account “an absolute lie.”

Without Taylor, Canadian voice actress Jennifer Hale will play Bayonetta in the upcoming game. CBC has contacted Nintendo of Canada, Platinum Games and Taylor for comment. None have responded. CBC also contacted Hale and SAG-AFTRA, both of whom declined to comment.

conflicted fans

Montreal-based podcast host and video game streamer Woolie Madden says Taylor’s performance as Bayonetta was as significant as that of any leading actor in a TV show or movie.

“It’s one of the main factors that brought that character to life and made him as beloved as he is among the fans. So it’s the most important thing you can get,” he said.

But Madden, who describes himself as a “huge fan” of the Bayonetta games, says the controversy over the past week, with its shifting and contradictory storylines, has been “incredibly confusing”.

“It also wouldn’t have been the first time that voice actors in the video game industry have been underpaid or undermined, or treated in any way. [as] disposable,” he said.

Woolie Madden is a Montreal-based video game streamer and podcaster. He describes himself as a “huge fan” of the Bayonetta games. (Submitted by Woolie Madden)

Several years ago, David Hayter found himself in a similar situation.

The Canadian actor and screenwriter voiced the main character Snake in the Metal Gear Solid series since 1998. But 2015’s Metal Gear Solid 5 introduced Kiefer Sutherland as the English voice of Snake.

The decision angered many Western fans, who identified Snake with Hayter’s gravelly voice.

“It was extremely disappointing. And I don’t think it was handled with the respect that I felt I had earned at the time,” Hayter said of the situation.

Actor and screenwriter David Hayter gained a huge following for his role as Solid Snake in the Metal Gear video games. (Mario Azunoni/Reuters, Silicon Knights/Konami)

“But at the same time, I work in the movie business and franchises move on. People make different decisions. Actors get replaced. It happens.”

Hayter has said that he bears no ill will towards Sutherland for taking the job, and similarly tweeted that fans shouldn’t be mad at Hale for taking on the role of Bayonetta.

Turbulence on Twitter

Fans and watchers online have expressed their anger at Platinum Games, Kamiya, and even Hale.

Some players posted screenshots of their canceled pre-orders for the game. But after the Bloomberg report introduced an alternate account, others accused Taylor of lying.

Hale said on Twitter that due to a confidentiality agreement, he cannot comment directly on the situation, but asked “all involved” to “resolve their differences amicably and respectfully.”

platinum games they broke their silence on Thursday nightthanking “everyone who has contributed” and offering his support for “Jennifer Hale as the new Bayonetta” on Twitter.

“We ask people to refrain from making any further comments that are disrespectful to Jennifer or any other contributor to the series,” he continued. The statement did not name Taylor.

Fight for more pay, waste

Taylor’s videos have renewed discussions about how much dubbing work pays in games and animation.

“There’s this misconception that voice actors are like celebrities and they pay us, you know, loads of money. And the reality is we don’t, and never have,” said veteran voice actor Ben Diskin.

“The average voice actor just lives paycheck to paycheck and, you know, does what he can to get by.”

He noted that it is “absolutely reasonable” for long-serving voice actors in leading roles to request or negotiate for more than the standard union salary. These negotiations are generally not made public.

Voice-over work for video games does not typically offer residual rights or royalties like TV or movies often do.

Some actors corroborated this with their own accounts on social networks.

Sean Chiplock said he was paid between US$2,000 and US$3,000 to voice a minor character in the Nintendo series. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wildwhich to date has sold over 27 million copies.

“My two lines off the screen in [the film] detective pikachu they have done me more than all [Breath of the Wild] made,” He noticed.

Members of the SAG-AFTRA union picket outside the Insomniac Games offices on November 17, 2016. (Kim Brunhuber/CBC)

In 2016, voice actors from the SAG-AFTRA union went on strike against several major video game companies, asking for better wages, including residuals from a game’s sales, as well as other workplace protections.

By the time it ended, the syndicate had obtained various protections, as well as additional payments for additional recording sessions. But residual payments linked to sales remained off the table.

“There’s only one concrete wall in the industry to stop that from happening,” Hayter said.

Industry watchers have speculated that game companies are hesitant to pay actors’ residuals because if they did, game developers might defend them as well.

“It would be wonderful if everyone, the programmers, the animators, everyone who works on these games, got just a tiny fraction of a percentage of those sales to help them get ahead in this life,” Diskin said. .

Buy or boycott?

When Taylor made his explosive statement, Madden said he considered boycotting bayonet 3. But he’s not so sure that’s the best answer for him as a fan, as new and conflicting accounts have complicated the narrative.

He says that he will probably play the game, which he has been anticipating since it was announced nearly five years ago. But he’s also not opposed to those who choose not to buy it.

“I think the most important thing is … not to pretend that the problem doesn’t exist,” he said.

“You don’t necessarily have to vilify each other for those decisions, but certainly don’t pretend that problems that might exist don’t exist.”

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