For whatever reason, voice acting for video games has become a fixation for me as of late and I can’t seem to stop talking about it.
Maybe you know where I’m coming from!
At any rate, I thought an article about voice acting for video games was in order and invited DB Cooper, queen of video game voice acting, to join me today for your reading pleasure.
When inspiration first struck to write another article on video games and voice acting, the muse came out of discontent from reading so many “reviews” of “bad voice acting” in video games. On behalf of voice actors everywhere, I couldn’t stomach the number of negative comments, threads and articles out there and knew at that moment that I had to get to the bottom of the problem and needed some help figuring out just what has to be done in the voice acting community to help correct or iron out issues that contribute to the notion that many games have sucky voice acting.
This is when I came to Deirdre and sought her assistance. If you know Deirdre (DB), you know that she is one serious voice actress who voices and loves video games, but what you might not have known before courtesy of DB, is that great video game voice acting is intrinsically tied to gameplay and understanding the fundamentals of the gaming experience.
I’ll let DB take it away with her sage advice on the topic in her opinion on the state of voice acting in video games today with particular emphasis on gamers, that is, people who play the games.
State of Voice Acting in Video Games Today
Voice acting in video games: what™s going on?
Gamers have come to expect a more immersive experience with the games they play, and the voice acting can be a key element in drawing the player into the story. Technological advances are certainly making it easier to include more dialog and verbal byplay. However, like a college kid with his first credit card and an open internet connection, it is altogether too easy to get more crap than you need. The impulse to jack up the cinematic quality of some games is making it hard to hear the actors, and at times incidental chatter has a negative impact on the player™s ability to focus on the gameplay.
On the other hand, four of the top-ten best selling games at this moment do not employ voice acting in a way that affects gameplay: In the Mario games the voice is incidental; racing games like Burnout Paradise don™t require voice acting in the action parts, and Rock Band is Rock Band–who needs dialog? In the Zelda franchise, the hero Link never even has any text communication, never mind spoken speech. Some games thrive without VO.
Other games like the Grand Theft Auto series are blessed by a panoply of excellent voice actors who make the game enjoyable in spite of (or in addition to) its violence. In games like the Final Fantasy series, the game XIII, or the Metal Gear games, there is a mix of in-game dialog and cut scenes that makes sense and furthers the plot.
With a spectrum of possibilities this broad, it™s clear there is no set model to follow, so each group of game designers is virtually re-inventing the wheel when they decide to include voice acting. The one consistency is the quest for really fine voice actors to fulfill the roles in the games that need them. Audio designers have become keenly aware that, while voice acting is just one part of the aural experience in a game, it is the most human connection” and voice actors need to be ready to step into the studio and be excellent. One way for actors to be ready for this challenge is to understand the medium.
If you want to do voice acting for video games, PLAY THE GAMES.
Well, there you have the state of voice acting in video games today. If you only take one idea away from what was discussed, be sure that it is to play the games if you want to be a video game voice actor. If you don’t play the video games you won’t understand the complex culture of gamers and how they expect to be engaged. A great voice actor can read lines but context is always a friendly guide when it comes to voicing for any project, video games included.
There are many great games that receive praise for voice acting and we want to see more evidence of that flowing freely in chat forums, blogs and social sites. A toast to more positive reviews for video game voice acting in the future!
Stephanie and Deirdre