Nolan North won the Best Performance Award last night at The Game Awards, which celebrates the best in video games, and he got a huge round of applause – and raised some eyebrows – during an acceptance speech many observers viewed as a dis of the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike against the video game industry. In previous interviews, however, he made it clear he stands with his union in the six-week-old labor dispute.
North, one of the best known voices in gaming, won the award for his work as Nathan Drake in Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, which is produced by a company called Naughty Dog. Thatis not one of the 11 companies being struck by SAG-AFTRA, whose strike mantra is “Performance Matters.” North, however, turned the mantra on its head to honor those involved in the development of games.
“I’m going to go out on a limb,” he said after being handed the award by Ted Price, founder and CEO of Insomniac Games, one of the struck companies. “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 about how performance matters, and it does. The performance of every designer, every programmer, every artist, every hardworking, talented person at that office. Not only Naughty Dog, but all the developers that I’ve worked with – but Naughty Dog in particular because I’ve been with them so long. That performance is so important. They are so talented, they are so hardworking. And their performance matters more than mine. That’s important to understand in this day and age, with all this talk going back and forth. Because without their performance, my performance would not only not matter, it wouldn’t exist.”
The heartfelt speech was the only reference, no matter how oblique, to the labor dispute during the ceremony, which was held at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. But his comments, which mirror the position of the companies – that actors play only a small role in the production of games – certainly gave some comfort to the game companies, one of whose reps alerted Deadline to his speech.
Deadline reached out to North but has yet to hear back.