Everything was going as expected at The Game Awards. As everyone predicted, Nolan North took home the award for best performance for his work in Uncharted 4: A Thief's End. As everyone does, he started out his acceptance speech thanking his wife and taking a shot at his own age for kicks. And just when everyone was ready to let their thoughts trail off:
"I'm going to go out on a limb here," North said.
Uh oh …
"A lot has been made about how 'performance matters'" Nolan said.
UH OH. For those not in the know on the political goings on of video game voice acting, voice actors who are a part of the SAG/AFTRA union are on strike, demanding residual pay and better working conditions. The hashtag they've been using to promote their strike is #PerformanceMatters.
But then, North, a member of the SAG/AFTRA union himself, drew attention to game developers, without whom video games wouldn't be made and voice actors wouldn't have a job.
"Their performance matters more than mine," North said on stage, as that limb cracked below him.
Of course, this being such a contentious issue, those words have great meaning, but people aren't quite sure what that meaning is. An interpretation many are taking is "devs and animators have it worse than us, so we shouldn't be complaining." As someone who has officially supported the strike, Nolan would be undercutting his own union by taking that stance.
It's far more likely that he's letting developers and animators know that voice actors appreciate their struggle. This would obviously explain how heartfelt his speech was, and it would make much more sense for him to be attempting build a bridge between other groups in the industry.
But the bottom line is, unless North feels the need to clarify his statement at a later date, we won't know for sure, and that's the danger of talking about any contentious issue on a big stage. Unless you're crystal clear with your message, it could get taken the wrong way.