Hellena Taylor is a voice actor in the popular video game called “Bayonetta,” and she is making the news right now.

Reigniting the pay debate

Taylor is currently encouraging fans to boycott the newest installment of the game, arguing that the money she was offered for the job of voice-over didn’t represent a “decent, dignified living wage.”

She says in several posts on Twitter recently, “I decided to do it to stand up in solidarity with people all over the world who do not get paid properly for their talents.”

Hellena Taylor did the English language voice version of the game, which was introduced in 2009 and then again in 2014.

It seems that the franchise offered Taylor the sum of $4000 for the position which she feels is far too low for a person like her, with so many years of experience.  According to Taylor, the franchise is worth the enormous figure of $450 million, which does not include merchandise.  Perhaps it would be advantageous to include some Casino Coupon codes.

The publishers of Bayonetta have not as yet commented, but Taylor insists in one of her videos that “This is an insult to me, the amount of time that I took to work on my talent and everything that I have given to this game and the fans.”

The video has now been viewed over 9 million times. Talor is “Asking the fans to boycott this game and instead spend the money you would spend on this game, donating it to charity.”

Taylor’s story has again brought up the issue concerning pay levels in the gaming industry for voice actors, and it has ignited a lot of discussion and support for her situation.

For example, in response to a promotion on Twitter by Platinum Games for the release of the latest installment, one user responded by saying, “pay your leads more.”  Someone else wrote, “I was excited about this game…Now I’m not even going to but it.”  And then went on to say, “This is coming from someone who owns Bayonetta 2 on the Wii U.  Why do so many industries treat voice actors poorly?”

Someone else tweeted, “I canceled my Bayonetta 3 preorder.”

Variations in pay for voice actors

According to experts in the gaming industry, there are a number of things that are taken into account when deciding how much money a voice actor receives. Therefore, without knowing how the publishers weighed- up the factors involved, it is difficult to know whether the pay offered was, in fact, fair or not.

Taylor also did the voice-over in the previous two Bayonetta games but has not revealed what she was paid for these. Mike Hayhurst, who is the senior director of voice operations at BLEND, connecting actors and gaming companies, says, “We don’t know if this is 40 hours of work or if they’re saying, ‘We’ll give you $4000 to come in and do pick-ups’.”

According to Hayhurst, many video game voice actors don’t have a fixed salary but rather work an hourly rate, this being agreed upon prior to the beginning of the recording.  Many things will determine how much the payment will be, and one of the things taken into account will be experienced.

Many video game voice actors belong to the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, and an agreement was reached in 2017 between SAG-AFTRA and the video game companies following a long, drawn-out strike by the union.  There has been no mention as to whether Taylor is a member of SAG-AFTRA or not.

This agreement set up a bonus structure that would pay extra money to actors depending on how many sessions they actually worked.  The agreement was extended to 2022 and expired in November.

According to the 2020 SAG-AFTRA rate sheet, “the current rate for a day performer (up to 3 voices/4-hour day) is $956.75. For a day performer (1 voice/1 hour), the rate is listed as $478.50. Voice-over sessions for video games are usually four hours.”

Often voice acting for video games involves more than just speaking lines while sitting in a cubicle.  It can sometimes mean giving real live performances in motion, and these can sometimes go on for many years.

Hayhurst does stress the point that voice actors are central to the gaming experience.   He says that many companies make a great effort to retain the same voice actor for particular characters whenever possible.    Obviously, those playing the game regularly get used to the sound of a character, and it is unsettling to suddenly hear a different voice emanating from that character.

Hayhurst says, “It’s paramount that we keep the same actors in the same applications …it’s important to keep that same sound because, in a game setting, fans of the game are playing it, they’ve probably spent many, many hours listening to this voice.  It is very important to keep that continuity.”

The issue of unfair wages in the industry is not new.  It is a subject that voice actors have been raising for a very long time.  Back in 2008, Michael Hollick, a voice actor, spoke to the New York Times complaining about the pay he received on Rockstar Games’ “Grand Theft Auto IV.”   Hollick was the voice of Niko Bellic, the lead role, and he said he got paid $100,000.  According to the Times, the game actually made $600 million in the first three weeks on the market.

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