Nolan North Honors Game Developers With Heartfelt Acceptance Speech

If you missed The Game Awards last night, the show had game reveals, new trailers, and the usual roster of various awards being handed out to various games.

Voice actor Nolan North won the best performance award for Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, and his acceptance speech has gotten an interesting response from the gaming community. You can view his speech above.

Instead of talking up his role as a voice actor and the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike, he gave a heartfelt speech thanking the very game developers who have enabled his voice acting career.

Here’s a transcript of his speech:

I have to thank everyone at Naughty Dog, an amazing company that I’ve had the honor to work with for over a decade.

This is the culmination of ten years of my life – the best years of my life. It made me a better actor, a better person. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the creator and the person who cast me, Amy Hennig, who put me in the role.

I’m going to go out on a limb. I want to thank a group of people at Naughty Dog. It’s them as a whole. I’m hearing a lot of talk lately how performance matters. It does.

The performance of every designer, every programmer, every artist, of every hard working and talented person at that office, not only Naughty Dog but all the developers that I’ve worked with, but particularly Naughty Dog because I’ve been with them so long.

That performance is so important.

They are so talented and they are so hard working. And their performance matters more than mine. And that’s important in this day and age, with all this talk going back and forth. Because without their performance, my performance would only not matter, it wouldn’t exist.

I’m so proud to do this, I’m so proud to be up here. Thank you so much for this. I will continue on, if they will continue to keep bringing the things I do to life. I’ll be there for them. Thank you.

Voice actors, their rights as employees, and their working conditions are one side of the spectrum. Developers have an equal if not greater number of issues, so it’s refreshing to hear Nolan praise them.

How do you feel about voice actors and their compensations for working in video games? Should game developers unionize as well? Sound off in the comments below!


Brandon Orselli


Big Papa Overlord at Niche Gamer. Italian. Dad. Outlaw fighting for a better game industry. I also write about music, food, & beer. Also an IT guy.

  • dogmentation

    Wow, way to take the piss out of the whiny SAG-AFTRA snowflakes.

  • James

    Glad to see you guys understood his intent more. I find it funny that some places are pretending he was blasting the strike in some way, he reminded people that the VAs are NOT striking against developers. Developers are their co-performers, the people that complete their job. The publishers (ones like WB and EA which have also been notoriously anti-consumer) are the ones that don’t want to pay VAs properly. And I doubt they do much to pay developers properly either.

  • I’m not going to be very popular with this comment, but I’m going to speak my mind.

    I support SAG-AFTRA’s basic principles, yet I personally never once said, nor have seen many voice actors say, the developers don’t matter as well, and Nolan is another example of this. In fact, I see them all the time praising developers. I constantly see people shitting on voice actors and SAG-AFTRA either because quite a large portion of the actors have batshit social justice politics – which I can definitely agree sours my image of those actors – or because it’s a matter of principle to make a blanket statement about the English voiceover profession in general being 100% irredeemable and awful.

    Frankly, I’m sick of the ad hominems and overall dismissal of other issues outside of the royalties debate. The actors need companies to give them more information on their characters to work with, and they need to be given more opportunities to not destroy their voices on the job to continue working. I say this, yet I’m always given the “developers are the bigger victims” card, which gets us nowhere.

    I’ll say this here and now so that there’s no confusion: game developers also deserve a union, and they also have every right to demand more improvements in their work life from the people paying them. I am a firm supporter of unions as a concept.

  • Kakaku

    I don’t get why certain people are taking this the wrong way. He was just saying that the developers are the most important contributors in a game. That’s it.

  • darkedone02

    I am very neutral/undecided when I hear about the strike, but I think nolan north did a wonderful speech.

  • Eli Wintercross

    I kind of agree with you, for me it was the demands for Royalties that soured me a lot, it seemed like they were wanting to have the same status as holywood actors, when the fact is it is very rare for a VA’s name attached selling a game.

    It doesn’t help that so many of the VA’s were being insufferable tools either.

    But in principle, I think it’s fair for them to want some level of respect from their employers as well as being able to work in a comfortable way and not strain their voices.

  • No_Good_Names_Ever

    Do you think he’s playing both sides while making sure he doesn’t go Hayter?

  • No_Good_Names_Ever

    It’s a strike fueled by the primadonnas of the western VA world; I don’t get why you think them better than this.

  • No_Good_Names_Ever

    The demand for Royalties is the only thing that turned people against them; at least the ones that don’t know the ones pushing it.

  • No_Good_Names_Ever

    If they cut out the royalties, people would be willing to support them but with that still in; it’s better they get ignored if the developers don’t get it too. In all honesty though, I’m hoping it gets the most annoying ones that are terrible at their job but somehow lucked into popularity black listed.

  • I can understand the disagreement with royalties if the actual sum demanded was way higher than what I’ve seen them say they want. If I remember correctly, Steve Blum claimed that the VAs demand an extra $800 or so for every two million copies of a game sold, and that ends when the sales hit 8 million. Overall, that’s about $3200 for a hugely successful game. When I think about that, I can’t honestly say it’s so unreasonable – but even if it was, it’s the biggest stickler for a lot of people, and tends to overshadow the other stuff SAG-AFTRA is striking for that most people would normally agree are fair demands.

  • Blacklisting idiots like Ashly Burch (a talentless, man-hating liar) and Stephanie Sheh (an otherwise talented yet horrifically racist retard) would be a step in the right direction, I agree.

  • ProxyDoug

    As someone who is studying to become a developer, I sobbed a little, it was awesome.

  • Meittimies

    Drop the ridiculous demands for loyalties per sale and their strike would be treated more seriously.

  • Mr0303

    Never go full Hayter.

  • bdp

    >an otherwise talented yet horrifically racist retard

    what’d she do?

  • Mr0303

    I’m not a big fan of North, but it’s nice that he praised the developers – the real people who make the games worth playing. Also mentioning Amy Hennig was a nice gesture.

    SAG-AFTRA’s strike is ridiculous with their demand for royalties, but this is expected since unions are cancer in general. I’m not sure he was blasting them per se, but rather trying to win more sympathies for the VAs, who have been acting like entitled divas while the developers are doing all the real work.

  • landlock

    actors like Steve Blum are quite happy to do non-union jobs when they are not meant to however.

  • landlock

    How many voice actors are involved in a game like GTAV?

  • Well, for one thing, she is obsessed – and I do mean obsessed – with Asian representation in Hollywood, and was angry at the fact that Tim Burton’s adaptation of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is going to have racially accurate characters according to the source material. Oh, and when Trump won… let’s just say “things that never happened” is an apt saying here.

  • djluke_1993

    It’s honestly stupid how people bring up how this is Voice actors VS Developers. The entirety of SAG AFRAS voice actors have said this isn’t even related or anything to do with developers and more so them wanting better working conditions from publishers.

  • Shiggy Diggy Doo

    Apparently performance doesn’t matter that much in Uncharted 30FPS: A Draw Distance’s End

  • Himegami Aisa

    $800 is a ridiculously paltry sum if true. That works out to 0.04 cents ($0.0004) per copy sold per VA. COD: Modern Warfare didn’t even sell 8 million copies worldwide and grossed $700 million. For that bonus to match even 1% of the profit they would have had to have hired 2200 voice actors.

  • DDD-kun

    He did this off the cuff. He gets points for that. It means a year from now I can say he’s one of the persons involved that stayed genuine to their own message.

    This doesn’t sanctify or vindicate the ones that have behaved poorly to the public. Not in the slightest. But I’ll respect a man that is genuine.

  • DDD-kun

    His intent wasn’t hard to understand. Just like what’s also not hard to understand is that people will play “Telephone” with any given message until clarity is brought to them. Unless they have an axe to grind, in which case their minds were made up regardless of what the message said. GG supporters would know that best, given its what their opposition did—media & general public sticking their fingers in their ear while screaming “misogynist”, “sexist”, “racists”, and “cis-white male pigs” at the top of their lungs.

    That aside, North’s forty seconds of honesty does not and CANNOT absolve the truth of the strike situation. The companies want it their way, and the union wants it theirs. Both have been extremely irresponsible: The companies to the members regarding work conditions (a common workplace tale), but also the members to the PUBLIC, insisting that their business is suddenly something that must garner not only our interest, but our support.

    The union should be able to resolve their situation with their own labor, and now with enabling public cheerleading, and inadvertently stepping on the backs of developers in order to seem taller. Nolan’s speech aside, SAG-AFTRA still has quite a bit they need to apologize & atone for. This doesn’t let them off the hook.

    Plainly put, the rights violations are a developer issue. The voice actor situation is a CONTRACT issue. One should entice public support & energy, and the other is a boring contract negotiation that shouldn’t need outside kinetic feedback of any kind.

  • DDD-kun

    I’m concluding from the first paragraph that they’ve escaped your notice. A month ago, around the time of SAG-AFTRA’s 2nd picket line attempt before they closed shop for elections, the media narrative changed. iirc it was a statement made to their website, but it highlighted another reason the strike was in place was to “bring awareness to the hard conditions in which developers labor”.

    That’s insanely disrespectful to the developers. It takes the voice actor strife scenario and actively co-ops a demonstrably WORSE situation in order to propel themselves forward as some ally/pariah to the public.

    To start with “raising awareness” is a joke. The public that reads even Kotaku are well-aware of just how absolutely shitty being a developer can be, as they’re openly antagonized by even games media themselves. Gamers out of their teens are acutely aware of companies like EA with their greedy ambitions and outright predatory business practices, as well as the blood they squeeze out of their programmers. We’re aware of the primadonas like Ken Lavine or Tim Schafer, and both the rumors and real confirmations of studios shutting down or being eaten by bigger companies almost callously. Rare dying, Natsume going under, Bandai absorbing half of Flight-Plan while Compile Heart/Idea Factory work with the others, all while battling with Sega for ages to get rights to their own IP back (spoilers: Puyo Puyo is still in Sega’s hands). EA eating dozens upon dozens of smaller studios in brutal and unfair fashions. Most of us actively know that.

    And that knowledge makes SAG-AFTRA’s attempt to co-op even more disgusting and shameful. You don’t help a group of people in trouble or under abuse by virtue signalling, and several members and spokespersons for SAG-AFTRA did just that and stupidly expected to be hailed as heroes for it. They need to apologize if they’re not going to DIRECTLY initiate actions to help the developer pool in the industry.

  • DDD-kun

    No it wouldn’t. What we have to say about the strike ultimately doesn’t matter for dick. The companies still hold the keys, and the public isn’t organizing to boycott said company games. Add to the fact union members make barely a quarter of a fraction of the voice acting workforce in the west, and what you have is a war of attrition that SAG-AFTRA can’t win in a clean manner.

    #PerformanceMatters is spectator fuel. It’s not going to change or even vaguely interfere with the outcome of this conflict.

  • eggly hills

    Wow was their an apology afterwards?

  • totenglocke

    Voice actors *are* paid appropriately or studios would have a hard time finding people willing to do voice acting for the rates they pay. Basic economics, fuck yeah!

  • totenglocke

    Stop and think for a second. If the royalty amount was really that low, they wouldn’t be risking their careers over it. People don’t strike and risk losing their job for a minor increase in pay.

  • Himegami Aisa

    Did you miss the part where he said that the royalties weren’t nearly the crux of the dispute and that it’s overshadowed all the other issues in contention? That’s an adequate alternative explanation.

  • Himegami Aisa

    Appropriately is a funny word. The union decided it wants a better deal from the studios and they’re striking for it. Does “basic economics” account for the principle of collective bargaining?

  • LurkerJK

    Unions are about showing how big their one eyed monster is to scare society into giving tribute

    They spend most of the time enticing or outright bullying workers into joining them and enhancing the union phallus

    Then every now and then they knock on the employer’s (or the government’s) door, lay it down on the table, compare sizes, banter about how glossy and impressive it is and play a game of chicken. They ask for lots of ridiculous shit and expect the employer will feel intimidated or emasculated enough to agree to some of them

    It should be noted that their claims will always be aimed at increasing the impressiveness of their third leg, either directly by getting more power for the union or indirectly by increasing their member’s ability to polish the rod. All of this so that next time they knock on that door they will be able to ask for even more ridiculous shit

    Sometimes their overestimate their gloriousness and get swatted but sometimes they succeed and after a while the union’s longfellow gets so strong that it no longer needs the members support, it commands their members support. They can now bully them directly into joining (or else) or get the government/employers to force them to sign

    While in the beginning the members might benefit from the demands in the end the union is just a parasite that takes a lot and gives little back and ends up destroying the business or at the very least making life worse for all parts involved

  • totenglocke

    “The Union” isn’t doing any work. The voice actors do the work and if they felt a company wasn’t paying enough, they wouldn’t work for that company or would find a new career, just like billions of other people who aren’t voice actors.

  • No_Good_Names_Ever

    What is she racist towards?

  • No_Good_Names_Ever

    Oh, she’s SJW; not /pol/.

  • Himegami Aisa

    Well yeah, the union just (nominally, let’s not kid ourselves about corruption and such in unions) represents the interests of workers in the union. I wouldn’t expect a company to act in anything but naked self-interest, so why can’t the employees unite and make demands of their employers in turn? The idea that VAs should just take whatever they’re given and fuck off if they want any better is frankly insulting.

  • catazxy

    The drama machine is still going….wake me up when its over, guys

  • LurkerJK

    Unions represent themselves, sometimes the interest of the union align with the workers specially while they are small but you’ll be naive to believe its their aim

    Nobody is asking them to take whatever and fuck off, what ppl expect from them is to quietly negotiate the best deal they can without trying to destroy the business for everyone else

    You forget there are many other ppl than voice actors involved in making games all of which are affected by these strikes and could start a strike of their own if other group openly gets more than them

    Should they get what they are asking for youll have a strike of every other union and group in the business next week asking for their share of the profits and the result, no work is done, company loses money, everyone loses their work and no games for everyone else

  • Krimhelm

    If a voice is worth, threatening to quit is much better than throwing a fit.

  • Quite a few, I’d imagine. Dozens at most?

  • landlock

    Somewhere around the 300 mark at least. It’s pretty insane the amount of different people they used.

  • Being part of a union and striking for any given reason is already a risk to your job. They already are putting their jobs on the line just by merely doing this, and gaming companies have openly admitted to their faces that they’ll just find other people.

  • White people.

  • Nope, not that I’ve seen.

  • Himegami Aisa

    What’s quiet negotiation, are they supposed to mumble their slogans under their breath or something?

    I don’t know where you live but the right to strike is pretty fundamental and I haven’t seen anything to suggest the dispute’s gotten ugly yet― it’s not like they’re staging lock-ins or something.
    Equally, I fail to see how they’re ruining the business for everyone. Let’s be realistic: no matter what way this goes, the industry will live on. Really, if a couple of unions are able to annihilate the game industry then it was probably meant to be. I have other hobbies anyway.

  • This is rather interesting, because it raises a question as to why they changed their narrative. Could it be because many in the gaming community almost immediately accused them of overshadowing the devs’ struggles and called them entitled? Seems to me they were responding to that specifically. And if you followed GamerGate, then you would know how it foreshadowed events like Brexit and President Trump. Based on this, I predict that if SAG-AFTRA’s strikes succeed, a domino effect will occur, starting with game developers. Being greedy corporatist hacks, gaming companies are probably resisting SAG-AFTRA because they fear the possibility of that exact thing happening.

  • Same difference; if it talks and walks like a racist, chances are it is one.

  • LurkerJK

    I live in Argentina where i have seen unions slowly destroy my country

    Let’s be realistic: no matter what way this goes, the industry will live on.

    Sure, investors love failed businesses with lots of baggage, keep telling yourself that

  • Himegami Aisa

    I live in a first-world country where cheap imported labour is fucking over the working class. If this fucking VA industrial dispute leads to the destruction of the American video game industry, all I would do is laugh.

  • No_Good_Names_Ever

    Eh, at least with /pol/ we could easily point out aggression and not have people trying to take the violence and nudity out of games.

  • Huzaifa Ahmed

    That’s when Steve was incredibly broke, & had to, to feed his kids. He hasnt done non-union since 2005, & *even* when he was just starting doing acting only, & couldnt afford it. He mentions that 2006 was a terrifying, poverty-ridden year for him.

    It also sort of sucks that he was replaced as Marcus Fenix, though I love John DiMaggio & his Fenix is awesome as well.

  • Huzaifa Ahmed

    “demands for Royalties that soured me a lot, it seemed like they were wanting to have the same status as hollywood actors”

    While I get what you’re saying, Nolan *is* a Hollywood actor. He lives in Hollywood & acts for a living – & he, just like most other VA’s, is trained in acting & is involved in an *actors agency*.

    Beyond that, while it’s true that VAs dont contribute *as* much, proportionally, to a game, versus screen actors on TV/film…video games are a *huge medium*, they offer so much *on top* of acting, & being that the industry is massive, the workers involved deserve much better. Obviously, coders/programmers are the main aspect, & ideally I’d put them first, but…they don’t *have* a union, as of yet. Since actors do, it’ll be nice if they can pave the way for union involvement in games overall.

    *Finally*, all that is asked for is $200 (or $800, which is decent-ish) for every 2 *million copies* sold. That’s *nothing* compared to what games make, & honestly it’s somewhat underselling VAs to an extent, though it’s a decent start.

  • Huzaifa Ahmed

    I think Stephanie Sheh is mostly a reasonable & friendly person overall. I’m a huge VA fan, so I particularly like her, she has awesome info drops about the dub industry, which I dig so hard.

    I understand her feel about Asian representation in Hollywood – considering she’s an Asian actor in Hollywood, it’s sort of warranted lol. I also can understand that people I admire have different opinions from mine.

  • I take it you don’t follow her Facebook feed. My brother does. He constantly tells me how Stephanie does almost nothing but espouse anti-white rhetoric, and how white men are “keeping Asians down” in a country where Asians earn more and get better grades om average. She also seems to forget that white people hired her in the first place.

    Your response reeks of apologist defending. This is not a matter of me having a difference of opinion with her – she is legitimately racist and horribly ungrateful to people who like her work but don’t agree with her politics. Fuck her.

  • Huzaifa Ahmed

    She’s obviously frustrated & I can agree that she (probably – I’m on Twitter but not FB) says some really dumb ****. I havent kept up that much with her stuff (which is why I shouldnt comment on this), but what I *do* know her for is very good.

    There are certain things that rile people up. For Sheh, it’s obviously racial issues. I agree that saying “GTF away from me if you did such-&-such” is definitely unprofessional & I dont agree with it.

    Although I dont want to be as negative as “Fuck her” would imply. Everyone’s human & just wants to be heard.

  • “Frustrated”? Is that really how you want to frame this? I get frustrated over a lot of things, but I don’t blame other racial groups like she does.

  • landlock

    He wasn’t just starting in 2005 though he’s been going since like 1995 or something like that back in the LucasArts days. Hell there is a reason the dude has like 8 known alias’.

  • Huzaifa Ahmed

    There’s a reason why people do things that they do, & while everyone else may not see it, to *that* person it feels like the right thing to do I guess.

    You could possibly justify anything with this, but still, I do believe Steph has her heart in the right place, just…i dunno, screws up priorities.

    Anyhow, I like a lot of her understanding & work, FWIH, & while I’m willing to accept she has some seriously problematic behaviors, IME she’s a decent person overall.

    Honestly, I want to understand where you’re coming from, but I really havent had that experience. Maybe if I hung out more on FB I’d get it.

  • How is her heart in the right place if she shits on white people for being white, and promoting her identity above theirs? Because as far as I can tell, her heart is in a place of prejudice and bigotry, a place no-one should have their heart in. You can sugarcoat it as much as you want and try to deny it in order to maintain your image of who Stephanie is, mate, but the truth of the matter is, if you’re white, she does not like you. Believe me, it didn’t please me to see her think like this, either.