Strike Looms Against Game Makers

“People buy games for gameplay, not to hear voices,” counters Finlayson. “And technology creates gameplay, not actors. People who play these games understand that, and in fact, some gamers turn the volume down because (they) find those voices distracting. In film or television, the actor’s performance makes the experience. In video games, it does not.” —Xeni JardinStrike Looms Against Game Makers (Wired)

Finlayson’s job is to talk tough in order to scare the unions during the negotiations, but the truth of his statements really depends on the kind of game.

Someone tell me that a game version of Elmo’s World doesn’t need Kevin Clash’s voice. Okay, transmediated games are one thing, but that’s not really what Finlayson is talking about here.

I just finished playing The Longest Journey the other day. It probably took me about 60 hours, stretched out over many weeks. When my wife took the kids to visit her parents last month, I got to put in some long hours on the game, but when they came back, it was time for the end-of-term crunch, and until I submitted grades last week, I had little time for gaming.

I’m not when I’ll ever have the time to write up a full review of The Longest Journey, but I was consistently impressed by the talent of Sarah Hamilton, who voiced the herione, April Ryan.

Obviously, in an adventure game driven by plot and character, the voice talent is extremely important. Broadway shows were once mainstream entertainment for the masses, but are now mostly the realm of the elite, due to high ticket prices (which reflect not only actor salaries but also the special effects and lavish production values that movie-bred audiences expect)

[Update: I just remembered that a writers’ strike in the early 90s helped ushered in the era of reality TV — COPS and America’s Funniest Home Videos were both products of the networks’ need to fill air time without using scripts.]

How will an actor’s strike against the gaming industry affect the development of the plot-heavy, character-driven games that have the potential to raise digital narrative out of the pop-cult ghetto?

At any rate, I’m looking forward to Dreamfall — The Longest Journey, though I still have Deus Ex 2 and Half-life 2 on my playlist. (Sadly, Deus Ex 2 will only play on my office computer, and I never have time to play it when I’m at work… and while the demos of Half-Life 2 do run on my home computer, I’m going to wait until the price comes down a bit before I splurge for that one.)

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