Recently, I’ve seen many posts crop up about the contest BioWare is having. One such post even qualified the contest by basically saying:


“Hey, even if you lose, you’re not losing anything! Character practice, amirite?”


I wanted to post about this in light of other recent discussions I’ve seen about topics like Union vs. Non-Union, and of course, Fair Rates.


Many times I have seen this article, and many times it’s because a well-meaning friend has passed it on to me. What a lot of people don’t realize is that this is a fan-focused contest to find someone to do unpaid voice acting work.


Of course, it does come with free travel and accommodations. For someone who is a big fan of the franchise, that might be all they need to fulfill their dreams of taking part in their favorite video game’s latest release. But essentially, the “prize” is that the winner (a non-union actor, to boot!) gets to say they’ve been in a Mass Effect game, and not much more. In other words, “Exposure!”


It’s hard when someone inevitably passes this contest on to me, because most of the time I just smile and say through clenched teeth, “Thanks!”

Marielle Nuval

Marielle Nuval


That’s because I don’t expect most people who send me these articles to understand right away. Other times, like when my fiance (bless his soul) shares it with me, I actually try to take the time to explain why I personally wouldn’t take part in such a contest.


There are plenty of reasons why! But then I immediately get shut down with a, “Sorry, I just thought you’d like it because you’re a gamer. Plus, it’s something you can add on to your resume! That’s gotta count for something, right?” In other words, “Exposure!”


Trust me, I definitely am very conflicted on the inside about this. I LOVE video games, and yes! It *would* be awesome to be able to tell people that I’m in a major video game!


But what about my principles? What about how hard VAs work to ensure that they are getting fairly compensated for the hard work and preparation that goes into voicing things like video games? What about the unions that are created specifically to protect the actors whose job it might be to voice the character whose role is currently now a prize in a big contest?


In the meantime, I shall, probably for a very long time, remain nose to the grindstone, trying to make ends meet without undercutting what many VAs have worked so hard to achieve while also trying to make rent and pay my bills like any other millennial out there with a ton of school loans and other obligations still left to pay.


What makes me upset about this contest and low-ball jobs we often find on P2P (Pay-to-Play) sites is that some (possibly very talented) schmo is going to win this contest, or take that job, and end up using it to launch their career while I am stuck grinding my face into that stone. Spinning my wheels, so to speak.


But hey, who am I to squash someone’s dream? I’m working on making my own a reality, just like most of the world.


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