5 Celebrity Gaming Scandals That Flew Under The Radar
We tend to overlook video game voice actors, because it's basically their job to disappear into whatever role they take. Plus, they're often talking over our efforts to shoot demons in the face. They're rarely foremost in our thoughts. So while the following stories would have made headlines had they involved movie or TV actors, they instead went unnoticed by anyone who doesn't spend their day obsessively reading industry blogs.
The Voice Of The Borderlands Mascot Accused The Developer's CEO Of Assaulting Him
Borderlands, the franchise about shooting everything that moves so you can get 500 more guns to continue shooting everything that moves, has a little robot mascot called Claptrap. Claptrap's incessant jokes and enthusiastic running commentary are so identified with the series that there's an entire DLC pack built around the joy of annihilating his screaming robot siblings. But the actor that made the character famous, David Eddings, won't be reprising the role for the upcoming Borderlands 3, and the reason for this might shock you if you skipped over the entry's title.
Eddings initially chalked his absence up to a pay dispute, but when Randy Pitchford, CEO of Borderlands developer Gearbox, felt the need to hop on social media and tell random fans that his offer had actually been very generous, Eddings promptly spilled enough beans to fuel a rodeo. Eddings was discussing a rumor that Gearbox was up for sale, and refused to tell an irate Pitchford the source of the news, suspecting that Pitchford already knew and just wanted the satisfaction of making him snitch. Pitchford responded by shoving "the fuck out of" Eddings, bruising him. He then sent Eddings fun texts like "My respect is falling to the floor," "Who the fuck are you loyal to?" and "Your priorities are fucked." The dispute eventually led to Eddings being fired.
We know, it's hard to imagine that Randy Pitchford -- a man who once tweeted porn of one of his company's games, went on a podcast to explicitly speculate on how a camgirl "faked the act of female ejaculation," and admitted to accidentally leaving a USB drive full of both work documents and "barely legal" porn at a Medieval Times -- might have issues with impulse control. But you'll have to decide who you believe.
PaRappa The Rapper Allegedly Scammed Fans Out Of 100 Bucks
PaRappa The Rapper is a rhythm game best-known for a stage wherein you rap along to a driving lesson taught by a moose named Mooselini. Naturally, it is a beloved bestseller. It's so beloved, in fact, that in 2012, two fans named Cameron and Jacob approached PaRappa's voice actor, Dred Foxx, and asked if he would be willing to record a few lines of dialogue for a fan cartoon. And so the madness began.
Foxx agreed to do the work for $100, then claimed that his recordings were lost when his computer was damaged. He promised to either re-record or return the money, because he wouldn't "diss y'all." He then proceeded to seriously diss y'all, coming up with a series of excuses for why he was stalling -- his iPad was stolen at a concert, he had been locked out of his PayPal account, he had undergone surgery. When Jacob told him "hope you are feeling better soon," Foxx responded with "DO NOT MAKE THREATS... there is no agreement in writing... just be a lil more patient."
The pair would be patient for over a year, during which time Foxx would beg his fan page for money to replace his iPad, claim that he was getting his management team and lawyer involved, and send increasingly hostile and rambling messages about how "your upset because you though you can capatalized off my market by attaching your name to me."
Eventually he just started insulting the pair with sick burns like "I THINK YOUR A DEPRESSED CHIC I DATED AND NEVER CALLED BACK..BOO HOO .. YOUR NEGATIVE VIBE IS SICKENING" and "Im in the studio working on a diss record which now includes you and other clowns" and the super classy "Somebody stick something in his mouth, my zipper is stuck." Admittedly, this is pretty hilarious if you imagine it's coming from a cartoon dog rapper who's trying to impress a sentient daisy.
After a series of very sad Facebook arguments, Foxx threatened to sue for defamation in March 2014. Shockingly, this amounted to nothing, but he declared "this misunderstanding is done," then compared his plight to that of another put-upon celebrity: Kevin Clash, the Elmo puppeteer who faced sexual abuse allegations. Uh, sure. Cameron and Jacob never got their money back, but I'm confident you guessed that by now.
Solid Snake's Actor Was Unceremoniously Replaced With A Bigger Name
David "Hey, did you know that I wrote the first two X-Men movies?" Hayter is perhaps the closest that video game actors have to a bona fide celebrity, having voiced Metal Gear Solid's Snake since the beginning. But because video game celebrity is nothing compared to the marketability of an actual celebrity, he was dumped for Kiefer Sutherland in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Ending. Some fans started an inept petition to bring Hayter back, while others tried to explain the decision away with theories about the game's elaborate timeline and web of secret identities, as if Sutherland actually playing Turgid Badger's Soviet Clone was anything other than a business decision to slap a more popular actor's name on the project.
You might say, "Well, how is this any different from when the Marvel movies replaced Edward Norton with Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk, or Olivia Wilde with Ed Asner as Squirrel Girl?" But those changes were made over pay disputes and broken working relationships, back when the MCU was a regular series of blockbusters instead of an all-devouring cultural monolith. MGSV: There's Deep Lore Behind Why This Elite Sniper Shows Off Her Huge Tits was the biggest game in the franchise to date, and noted auteur/lunatic Hideo Kojima wanted Hayter out and Sutherland in "to freshen things up." So it's more like if, in between Infinity War and Endgame, Ruffalo was swapped out with Tom Cruise because he was suddenly available and interested.
The Stars Of Devil May Cry 5 Can't Stop Fucking Up
Devil May Cry 5 sold over two million copies in just two weeks, and did this despite the apparent total insanity of its stars. Reuben Langdon, the voice of lethal fashion model Dante, appeared on an obscure YouTube channel to sound off about Russian collusion (it didn't happen), and Me Too ("constantly throwing people under the bus") before declaring that everyone just needs to move on and "start telling ourselves a new story." So good news, everyone: Complicated gender and power dynamics in entertainment are solved now, because the guy who makes Ken grunt in Street Fighter said so.
Then, when asked about Vic Mignogna, a prominent anime voice actor who was recently accused of sexually harassing colleagues and fans (some underage) at conventions, Langdon's deep thoughts were "A lot of people just need to learn to stand up ." Indeed, how could a 56-year-old man possibly know that it's inappropriate to grope a teenager unless they tell him? Langdon also said that "We are not going to heal that energy by kicking Vic out." You know, much like how the vibe in a house isn't healed until you invite the person who robbed it to hang out and watch a movie to prove that you're all cool now.
Oh, and Langdon is also a believer in both UFO conspiracies and QAnon, the conspiracy theory that Donald Trump is secretly battling a shadow government run by pedophiles. He's encouraged his Twitter followers to watch QAnon videos, and he helped found the "Citizen Hearing on Disclosure" to get to the truth of "evidence indicating an extraterrestrial presence engaging the human race." So he may very well think that the Devil May Cry games are nuanced documentaries.
Meanwhile, the voice of Morrison, Joey Camen, had done comedy sketches with all the hilarious observations of a man trying to make it on the minstrel show circuit. Camen's characters included the N-word-dropping rapper Krey Master J, the trans-fat-hating "transvestite" Susan, and, somehow most bafflingly, a Thai pawn shop owner who declares "black man try to fuck with me" and "try to Jew me down on stuff," because Camen apparently never met a stereotype he couldn't embrace in lieu of telling an actual joke.
Camen issued a standard "I'm sorry you were offended" apology, and described himself as a boundary-pushing comedian, despite all evidence to the contrary. "Ha ha, this man is wearing a wig and pretending to be a girl" was better executed when it was considered groundbreaking in goddamn 1959. Camen promptly pulled all his videos from YouTube so that wayward viewers wouldn't cut themselves on his razor-sharp edge, but his IMDb sizzle reel is still available if you want to hear a white man employ the worst Asian accent since WWII-era propaganda videos.
There Was A Year-Long Strike That Most People Didn't Even Notice
In October 2016, voice actors began the longest strike in the history of the Actors Guild. And unless Polygon is your home page, you almost certainly didn't notice. Unlike, say, the headline-grabbing writer's strike, no games were delayed, cancelled, or rendered hilariously terrible. Life Is Strange: Before Everyone Gets Murdered simply swapped out Ashly Burch, voice of fan-favorite Chloe, for a non-union actor, and it was barely a bump in the road.
So why were they striking? Well, one actor complained that a four-hour session of "screaming bloody murder" left their throat too raw to perform any other work, and having to provide so many different grunts and growls of aliens getting shot risks vocal chord damage. Voice actors often weren't told what characters they were playing for fear of corporate espionage, which is both confusing and manipulative (you would feel emboldened to ask for more money if you knew you were working on the new Fallout, as opposed to its low-budget porn parody, Balls Out).
Some actors also perform motion capture work, and no stunt coordinators are provided to make sure that you don't break your body when giving 30 different examples of a goon getting kicked in the face by Batman. Oh, and they weren't thrilled with low flat fees and a complete lack of residual payments. Voice actors were paid the same regardless of whether their game sold 10 copies or 10 million. Phil LaMarr pointed out that he was paid better for working on an episode of Pound Puppies than for his role in the best-selling Metal Gear Solid games.
After 340 days, the strike was resolved with some improvements to pay structure and working conditions, but the demands for residual payments and major concerns from actors about their vocal health still wasn't being taken seriously. They can still be asked to shout themselves hoarse for hours, and they just have to hope that their throats don't explode.
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