How to Get Into Video Game Voice Acting [A Beginner’s Guide]
The world of video games is filled with endless possibilities to play a wide range of characters, from heroes to villains and everything else in between (including funny ogres and talking dragons). You just never know what to expect.
As a voice actor, getting into video game voice acting is an exciting prospect, as it allows you to take on complex characters that you’ve probably never encountered before.
Learn how to get into video game voice acting, and explore the different video game genres and roles to help you prepare for the industry.
The Rising Demand for Video Game Voice Actors
Reasons to Join Video Game Voice Acting
Being a voice actor, you have the option of working in a variety of great industries and the video game industry is surely one of them.
In today’s age, almost every video game contains a form of voice over, as video game designers realize the necessity of giving their characters a voice. Even well-rounded characters require voice overs to strike a strong connection with their audience, and help them truly engage with the game.
In a New York Times article, Dan Houser, a creative video game director, explains the importance of video game voice overs by stating: “We need audio to carry a lot of the weight because we are trying to convince people [that] this is a huge and vibrant world.”
The audio Houser is referring to consists of voice over recorded by talented voice actors which help carry the narrative of the game.
The need to create new and convincing gaming worlds fuels the demand for video game voice overs. This demand is causing more and more voice actors to join the rapidly growing world of gaming, and take on distinct characters like powerful ninjas, princes and talking birds.
Tech Jury reports that the video game industry’s profits are expected to reach a whopping $180 billion by 2021. Being a voice actor, you can be a part of this great industry and take advantage of its expansion, creating a strong career for yourself.
Most importantly, the diverse content of video games will allow you to further develop your voice acting skills. You’ll be tasked with representing diverse characters with unique personalities. Such characters may not exist in other voice over projects like radio commercials or explainer videos.
This will give a chance to play around with your voice acting style and gain invaluable voice acting experience. The best part is that you can use this experience in other voice acting jobs, such as audiobook narration and animated movies, because they also involve demanding and unique roles.
How to Get Into Video Game Voice Acting
If you’re planning to become a video game voice actor, you definitely need to know about the various video game genres and roles you may encounter in the industry. Having this sense of familiarity will allow you to select the best video game projects that suit your voice acting skills and abilities.
The Most Popular Video Game Genres
Video games are available in several exciting genres and subgenres. This also includes the exciting introduction of accessible video games for players with different abilities.
Video game creators have always demonstrated the necessity to cater to every demographic, and this is solidified by the wide variety of games available for audiences.
Here are six of the most popular video game genres:
1. Exhilarating Action Video Games
In action video games, players complete their character’s physical challenges by controlling the main action. These games usually require a lot of hand-eye coordination and quick reaction time.
A good example of an action packed game would be Donkey Kong. If you’re a part of an action video game project, you may be voicing several sound effects for the video game’s sequences, such as grunts, or squeals.
2. Exciting Adventure Video Games
Games belonging to the adventure genre involve players following the video game narrative to make their way towards an end goal, such as saving a princess or reaching the last level of the game. These games tend to have a lot of dialogue, which allows voice actors to take on exciting characters to keep the players entertained.
For example, Elijah Wood takes on the role of Spyro in Spyro the Dragon: A New Beginning, telling players about his journey as a purple dragon, as they move from one level to the next. By the end of the game, players understand Spyro’s destiny and develop an emotional connection with him.
3. The Genre of Role-Playing Games
The role-playing game (RPG) is one of the most popular genres in the gaming industry. RPGs usually feature a medieval or fantasy setting, in which players take on complex characters to play the game. These games are unique, because you get the option of interacting with other online players when you’re playing the game. Such games focus more on character advancement than on storytelling. RPGs have terrific dialogue that help create a story for the player’s character.
4. Puzzle Video Games
In puzzle games, players solve different puzzles to advance to different levels. The difficulty usually increases with every level. Puzzle games can have a voice over that directs the players during the game, or may give them a few hints in difficult situations. Some puzzle games have unique narrators, showing how the genre can also be highly creative.
An example of such a game, would be LittleBigPlanet 3, a fun puzzle game with unique characters called Toggle, OddSock and Swoop, who narrate their funny stories as players advance through exciting puzzles.
5. Simulation Games
Simulation games are becoming more and more popular everyday. They are games that are designed to emulate specific situations, such as playing a football game or flying a dragon, and thus create otherworldly experiences for the player. They use hyperrealistic graphics and strong voice overs to create their own reality, sucking you into an entirely different world, filled with wonder and excitement.
Similarly, through being highly interactive, simulation games sometimes incorporate other gaming devices, like virtual reality (VR) glasses, that enhance the power of the simulation even further.
FIFA 15 is a great example of a powerful simulation game. It allows players to enter the game of professional football, by becoming one of the world’s most sought after players, like Cristiano Ronaldo. The game even features athlete voice overs, football commentary and great graphics, a true treat for hardcore football fans.
6. Sports Video Games
As you can probably tell by the title, sports games mimic real-life sports like golf, football, tennis etc., letting players compete with a computerized opponent or other online players, without having to leave the comfort of their sofas. Some great examples include Madden NFL 20 and Wii Sports. Like simulation games, sports games can also integrate other devices like tennis rackets, that improve the player’s gaming experience.
Sports games can also feature celebrity sportsmen and women, like Lionel Messi or Serena Williams. As a video game voice actor, you can expect to voice both dialogue and sound effects for such games.
Different Video Game Voice Acting Roles
Knowing the most popular video game genres is not enough. You must also understand the kind of roles video games contain in order to get started as a voice actor in the industry. This will help you understand different video game projects, and see if they appeal to you as a voice actor.
Here are some of the major voice acting roles that you will encounter in video games:
Video Game Narrators
Video games can feature varying styles of narrators, such as a main narrator, or an absent narrator. The main narrator can be the protagonist, or any other character who explains the game’s storyline and plot for the players as they move through the game.
Narrators are very important in adventure games and RPGs, because their dialogue helps game designers connect crucial aspects of the game to the storyline, such as new characters, antagonists, settings etc.
On the other hand, an absent narrator is a character who isn’t directly a part of the game. It can be a mysterious being who creates a lens to analyze the narrative of the game.
Video Game Protagonist
Being a video game protagonist is a thrilling role for voice actors. Video game creators usually spend the most time designing great protagonists for their games. From deciding the look of the character to the entire backstory, the whole process is treated very seriously. This attention to detail results in the creation of brilliant characters, like Nintendo’s Mario. Mario not only entertains players in every game in which he is featured, but also carries the weight of the strong legacy created by Nintendo. He is the face of their company, marketing campaigns, and more.
If you’re voicing a protagonist, you need to have a thorough understanding of the character sketch, because your character is the main focus of attention. This understanding will help you create a fitting personality for the protagonist. Your performance carries the potential to elevate the whole gaming experience, making the character truly iconic and unforgettable.
Also, you get to become something you probably never dreamed of, like a dancing fairy or an interesting alien, so just have fun with it and create something amazing!
The Video Game Antagonist
As the voice of a video game antagonist, you may plan to take over the world, or steal a bunch of donuts, jumping from one diabolical plan to another, from level to level. Just like the protagonist, you also have an in-depth design and backstory, but instead of saving the world and upholding the main narrative of the game, you appear in ‘boss levels’ or during specific situations in the game. The voice over styles most video game antagonists display are aggressive, bossy and villainous. However, this is not always the case, sometimes video game antagonists seem quite normal, and are revealed at the very end of the game.
In Nintendo’s Mario series, Bowser has been the archenemy of Mario since his first appearance, in the 1985 video game Super Mario Bros. His ultimate goals are to kidnap Princess Peach, defeat Mario, and conquer the Mushroom Kingdom. He has a very deep and loud voice, showing off his strength and strong personality.
Find Video Game Voice Over Jobs
Looking for video game voice over jobs doesn’t have to be intimidating, even when you’re new to the gaming industry. Online voice over marketplaces like Voices.com are great for voice actors looking to get into video game voice acting. By creating a voice actor account, you can start auditioning for cool video game voice acting jobs, and become a part of gaming projects.
Plus, when you join an online marketplace, you’re guaranteed not to miss out on opportunities, just because a casting call has been posted from a different city. When you create your own online voice over business, you can work on great gaming projects from anywhere around the world.
Video Game Voice Over Tips
Voice acting for video games requires a lot of time and effort, making it important for you to know the best video game voice over tips, to deliver a great performance.
Here are three of the best tips to help you get started:
Video Game Voice Over Tip 1: Get into Character
Just like any other acting role, it is crucial to understand the idea, plot, setting and characters of the video game project your acting in. This will help you understand the story and personality behind your video game character. By understanding the whole concept of the game, you can easily slip into the character and create a strong and impactful performance. Getting into character is a crucial part of any acting job, so you must be prepared to take the process seriously.
It is also important to note that this may be challenging when you’re a little purple dragon or a talking egg, but if you know the character’s story and traits, you can use some of your creativity to give them a great voice.
Conducting research will also help you prepare for video game voice overs. As an experienced voice actor, Maya Tuttle advises aspiring video game voice actors to “play the types of video games they’re interested in auditioning for,” because it can help you prepare for video game projects.
Tip: Learn more about Maya Tuttle’s voice acting journey on Voices.com.
Video Game Voice Over Tip 2: Use Your Body
Recording action lines for a video game project can be very challenging because you have to imagine yourself being a part of the action as you perform the script.
You have to come up with sounds for actions like, summoning elements, gaining magical powers, or anything else that a gaming designer comes up with.
This is why you should use bodily movements while you’re voice acting, so the sounds you make are convincing. To properly achieve this, make sure the recording booth doesn’t restrict your movements.
Video Game Voice Over Tip 3: Take Breaks and Protect Your Voice
Video game voice acting requires a great amount of attention, energy and time, which can put you at risk of straining your vocal cords. To avoid this from happening, you must always avoid prolonged recording sessions.
This is especially important when it comes to video game voice acting roles that require constant shouting and screaming. Roles like this can have a huge impact on your vocal health, and can potentially cause you to take forced time off to heal.
Always remember to take proper care of your vocal health, and openly communicate this need with the people involved in the project.
Learn more about protecting your vocal health.
Are you interested in becoming a video game voice actor? Which video game genres appeal to you?