Last Week’s King and Kong (Sept. 21-27, 2015): Performance Matters

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

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Ladies and Gentlemen, take this only as seriously as you wish. This is Last Week’s King and Kong.

KING

Oddworld - Abe's Oddysee (featured image)

Before getting to the King this week, some shout outs to some deserving royalty. First is Oddworld Inhabitants and Steam for giving away Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee for free last week. Hopefully, you guys were able to take advantage of it and get a well-received classic.

Legend of Legacy | Art

Second mention goes to Atlus for the demo of The Legend of Legacy, an upcoming RPG on the 3DS. Atlus continues to show that they know how to give their audience a real taste of a game. You see, unlike certain developers and publishers (I’m looking at you, Nintendo) that prefer to give an artificial scenario for their demo, Atlus prefers to give you the real thing. The Legend of Legacy demo, much like those of their Etrian Odyssey games, is the first 3 to 5 hours of the game, complete with the first few maps and all the playable characters available. Essentially, Atlus is saying “The first few hours is on us, guys.” Good guys, Atlus. I hope they’re having a positive effect on SEGA.

SAG-AFTRA - King and Kong

The Kings this week are the voice actors behind the hashtag movement Performance Matters. These are professional voice actors, including David Hayter, Jennifer Hale and Tara Strong, that are part of the union SAG-AFTRA (Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists), which is currently holding an important vote. That vote being whether or not they will be striking against big name publishers like Activision and Electronic Arts — both of which were noted in a Tribeca article regarding the situation.

The union members are asking for four general things:

  • Performance bonuses
  • Compensation for vocally stressful performances
  • Stunt Coordinators for Motion Capture
  • Transparency from the very beginning with the voice actors

You can read them all in full detail here.

Now, I know there are many people out there who want to attack these people for wanting to negotiate for these things, saying that if they don’t want to work that there are more capable people that would take less money to do it for them. I, on the other hand, will argue for the actors for a few reasons.

  1. Voice acting is a skill that needs to be trained regularly. I’m not just talking about doing an occasional impression of someone but actually sitting down with a vocal coach to work on proper technique to consistently get the result you and the director want. Not everyone can do this.
  2. Even with proper technique, having a job that requires your vocals is demanding and places a lot of stress on your vocal chords. And even with the best training, something devastatingly wrong can still happen, whether by overuse or other events like cancer. Just ask Julie Andrews. Or, for something a bit more related to this site, see what Sean Schemmel said about passing out in the booth recording Dragon Ball GT. Or ask him how he lost his voice recording Black Doom for Shadow the Hedgehog and had to get acupuncture.
  3. If you want video gaming to be taken seriously as an art, then publishers (particularly the high-end, blockbuster-title ones) need to start taking payment of talent seriously. It’s not like they can’t afford it. How else do you explain the castings of Keifer Sutherland, Angela Bassett, Peter Dinklage, Kevin Spacey and other high priced talent? Heck, some of these guys didn’t even work out, showing that having an Emmy winner won’t translate into having a good voice acting performance (see Dinklage in Destiny).

The point is this: these guys are working hard, they’re getting hurt in spite of good technique, and they’re really good at what they do. They’ve earned the right to get these things from the big name publishers.

And if you still disagree, that’s alright. I’ll just leave this here while you plot out your rebuttal.

KONG

Oh, goody. A week where there’s barely anything to Kong. I did get a nomination from a contributor for China’s censorship laws hurting gaming sales. And while that would make an interesting discussion, that type of talk would go way deeper than expected and go way too political. Not worth my time.

Konami - Ultimate Kong

So, instead, let’s just go back to beating a dead-but-living horse in Konami. This one goes out to them for comments made regarding whether or not they’d continue creating new games — specifically, high-end console games.

Rumors came out early in the week regarding Konami stepping aside from console development, which was expected since… well, pretty much everything they’ve done the past year or so has shown that they’re done internally developing console games. But then, Konami decided to come out with this:

I can promise you that we’re definitely not leaving Metal Gear behind or anything like that. I know some blogs were claiming that online this morning, but I’m really not sure where they’d be getting that from.

How about the fact that there are no other projects other than Metal Gear Online and future PES installments that are known? You certainly don’t breed consumer confidence with that type of line-up, Mr. Public-Relations-Person.

…But wait, there’s more.

We actually had a press statement just a few months ago stating that we were still making MGS games moving forward, and shared a link on where folks could apply to work on it.

You sure did… way back in March… before the Silent Hills dumping happened.

I’m not sure why they forgot about it so soon, but we’re still definitely working on console games and franchises such as Metal Gear, Silent Hill, Castlevania, PES and all the rest.

Yep. You sure are…

Silent Hill Pachinko - HIT THE LEVER!

“HIT THE LEVER!”

Konami, next time you want to prove public opinion wrong, bring some evidence. Until then, shut up, and put the Kong hat on.


Agree with the choices? Have your own King and Kong for last week? Let us know in the comments below.

About Jeff Neuenschwander

Jeff has been a supporter of the website and campaign since the beginning. Joining in for E3 2012, he worked his way up the ranks quickly, making it to the Editing Manager post at the beginning of 2013. Jeff has a wide variety of tastes when it comes to gaming and pretty much likes anything that is quirky, although his favorite genres are Action, Platforming, and RPG. Outside of gaming, Jeff is a musician, being trained as a trombonist for Jazz and Classical music, and holds a degree in Sound Recording.




  • Zwielicht Funkel

    A problem that I have with the VA strike is that they’re hardly the only ones to get the shaft by big publishers. And they’re hardly the most important ones. The actual developers of these games get screwed over on a regular basis, but you don’t hear that much from it. That VAs are the only ones to get the spotlight, as if they’re somehow special in that regard, seems rather backwards to me.

  • JDobbs

    I’m surprised the statement made by Shuhei Yoshida regarding the future of Sony’s handheld ventures didn’t make it on here, then again, it was a business decision on their end which everyone saw coming anyways.

  • Sylveria Shini

    I agree that VA is a talent and quality voice acting adds something important to the game, however, VAs, as it is, are already the highest paid-per-hour worker on a game. They spend, at most, a week working on the game and their pay-rate is far above that of the developers, who spend years working far beyond a 40hrs week. I’ve seen a lot of comments on this topic from developers in the industry talking about this and how absurd it is to be giving the VA’s bonuses when the developer themselves typically gets nothing, and half the time ends up getting laid off at the end of the production cycle.

    I also take the point of let them go, and find new people. Sure, games like Arc Rise Fantasia and Chaos Wars have atrocious VA, but this presents an opportunity to find new talent, not just yank in interns to do the voice work. There’s certainly no shortage of people who can do voice work, and do it well, who would club a baby seal for the chance to work on a high profile game. Give aspiring new talent a chance instead of just getting the usual suspects over and over.

    • Razorfall

      Are those games worse than Baten Kaitos?

    • Sylveria Shini

      I’m not familiar with Baten Kaitos… but probably. If you’re bored sometime, youtube up some Chaos Wars stuff. Personally, its the worst I’ve ever heard.

    • JDobbs

      As much as I like certain voice actors (Troy Baker comes to mind), I would love to see some new faces get the opportunity to work on some high profile games.