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Video game voice actors slam SAG-AFTRA’s controversial AI deal

Video game voice actors have been raising concerns about the use of AI voices in games, after the actors’ union SAG-AFTRA announced a deal with an AI company yesterday (January 9).

In a statement, SAG-AFTRA announced that it has reached a “groundbreaking AI voice agreement”. According to the statement, this agreement will allow Replica Studios, a leading artificial intelligence voice technology company, to “engage SAG-AFTRA members under a fair, ethical agreement to safely create and license a digital replica of their voice.”

These voices can then be used in “video game development and other interactive media projects from pre-production to final release”.

Ichiban Kasuga is in his birthday suit in Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth's reveal trailer CREDIT: SEGA
Ichiban Kasuga is in his birthday suit in Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth’s reveal trailer CREDIT: SEGA

However, the announcement hasn’t been met kindly by several video game voice actors. Yong Yea, the English voice actor for Kiryu in the Like A Dragon series, posted on X (formerly Twitter) that “every voice actor I know not only didn’t approve this, they pretty much heard about this for the first time today on Twitter”.

Veteran voice actor Steve Blum (Starfield, Mortal Kombat 1, Marvel’s Midnight Suns)  replied to the announcement, writing:

“With all due respect… you state in the article ‘approved by affected members of the union’s voiceover performer community’. 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?”

In a statement to Aftermath, the chair of the SAG-AFTRA interactive media bargaining unit clarified that the deal was about one specific company.

“So the finalized deal with Replica is specific to Replica, in building their third-party AI solution. The performer would sign with them and be covered by them and the license to devs would require the protections and compensation be carried through.”

In other gaming news, Steam has announced it is cracking down on the “illegal” use of AI on the platform.

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Leah Sirama
Leah Sirama
Leah Sirama, a lifelong enthusiast of Artificial Intelligence, has been exploring technology and the digital realm since childhood. Known for his creative thinking, he's dedicated to improving AI experiences for all, making him a respected figure in the field. His passion, curiosity, and creativity drive advancements in the AI world.


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