"No voice actor would willingly approve this."

Sotto Voce

Earlier this week, the Screen Actor's Guild made the controversial choice to sign a deal to allow AI-generated voice performances in video games — and it's unclear who it consulted with to reach that decision.

Although SAG-AFTRA said in its statement about the deal with the AI voice firm Replica Studios that it had been "approved by affected members of the union’s voiceover performer community," there's been a chorus of voice actors calling bull since the move was announced on Tuesday.

Steve Blum, a prolific games voiceover artist, said in a tweet that neither he nor anyone he knew had approved the Replica deal, and expressed incredulity at the news after the union announced it.

"Excuse me? With all due respect... you state in the [statement] 'Approved by affected members of the union’s voiceover performer community,'" Blum posted. "Nobody in our community approved this that I know of. Games are the bulk of my livelihood and have been for years. Who are you referring to?"

Those sentiments were reflected by Elias Toufexis, whose voice was featured in games like Starfield and DeusEx.

"I would humbly consider myself one of the top voice actors working in games," Toufexis tweeted. "No one asked me about this. No one reached out for my opinion. From what I'm seeing, no one asked any of my peers either."


In a message sent to the union provided to Futurism, SAG national executive director and chief negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland said that members, including those with "significant and diverse experience performing in games, including in [voiceover] roles," had been "deeply involved in the negotiation of this agreement."

Nevertheless, Crabtree-Ireland did not name any specific members or union subgroups, and said only that some of the people who approved of and negotiated on the Replica deal were part of the committee currently in the process of banging out SAG's broad Interactive Media Agreement with video game companies.

The guild insists that the deal is its attempt to protect members while keeping up with the times. All the same, the seemingly-surprise announcement of the deal has clearly taken voice actors and other concerned parties aback, and voiceover casting director Samantha Morrison even went so far as to accuse SAG of "straight up spreading lies."

"No voice actor would willingly approve this," they tweeted. "AI has no place in voiceover, or the arts in general!"

Whichever way you twist it, the rollout of this deal went very poorly — and if SAG wants its members on board, it sounds like it'll need to do some serious explaining to the people it represents.

More on AI anger: George Carlin's Daughter Horrified by AI-Generated "Comedy Special" of Her Dead Dad

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