Have you ever been to an arcade or an amusement park and purposefully listened for voice overs?
Voice over is used in a variety of games and activities, employed for a number of reasons.
Recently, I spent some time studying the smorgasbord of sound that emanated from an arcade and a go kart track.
What did I hear and what was learned?
This article will detail some of the auditory experiences gleaned researching how voice over is used in arcades and at theme parks.
A Brief History of Voice Over in Arcade Games
Have you ever stopped to think about the multitude of voices you can hear once you step into an arcade?
At an arcade, you can play games ranging from pinball to those based on popular television programs. These games are often accompanied by voice overs that serve many purposes of which we’ll talk about in a minute.
Arcades have played a role in society since the 1970s and enjoyed peak popularity in the 1980s, often referred to as the golden age of the arcade. Generally arcades were destinations in themselves and many still exist today. Nowadays, you can encounter arcade games in restaurants, hotels and more.
As the arcade games came into their own and technology improved, voice over became more prominent. In the late 1970s, voice over was used in very few arcade games but as we’ve observed, its role has expanded over time to be used in a greater number of games.
Through this transition, voice over has been used as a tool to attract a gamer, instruct them, and entertain.
Use of Voice Overs in Arcade Games
As you might have noticed, voice over is used to do more than just entertain you as you play a game. Similar to how voice over is used at theme parks, opportunities for use of voice over in an arcade often include:
3 Specific Examples of Voice Over in Arcade Games
Out of the hundreds of games located at this particular arcade, two that stood out to me were Operation and NASCAR mainly due to pop culture references and memories of these brands from my childhood. While I didn’t play any of these arcade games and therefore have limited knowledge of the full extent to which voice over was used, the following is what I heard and observed during the course of my stroll.
If you grew up in North America, you likely played the game “Operation” at some point in time or have seen commercials for it. The voice over used in this game was very much a character voice. The delivery was over the top, carnival-like and full of excitement. “Go where the ankle bone’s connected to the knee bone,” “Go for the breadbasket, you got the breadbasket!” and “Play Operation where you’re the doctor!” The game itself was a gigantic encased version of the board game. I thought that the voice suited the game well and somewhat resembled what you might expect the patient in the game to sound like if given a voice.
Growing up, I watched the races with my dad and grandparents so this game was of interest to me on a number of fronts. This multi-player NASCAR-licensed game (pictured above) has a racetrack in the enclosure with four cars you can race around the track. Above, you could monitor your progress and also catch glimpses of the action on the track. The voice over was delivered by an animated game announcer who broadcasts the fast-action game updates to heighten the gaming experience. He says things like, “Hello and welcome to the NASCAR Bay Tek Showdown. Experience the heart pounding sights and sounds of NASCAR,” “It’s the final lap,” and “What a fantastic finish!”
The voice over was well done and worth looking into further. I was inspired to learn more. Upon visiting Bay Tek Games’ website, I called the company to speak with David Myus, the NASCAR Showdown specialist at Bay Tek Games, Inc. David shared that Mark Winter, Parts Manager at Bay Tek Games, was the voice of the animated announcer in addition to numerous other coin operated games that the company produces. Finding out who the person behind the voice over is always of interest to me and if you go to the right sources, you too can discover the answers to such questions.
Who doesn’t like go karts?
For those of you who have had this experience, depending on the system the park was using, you may have heard voice overs that helped move your experience along safely. Chattanooga, TN-based company Pit Boss Amusement Products, LLC sells a Safety Announcement System specific to racing.
This safety announcement system spoke directly to riders and was programmed to deliver three very important prompts of value to those participating, which were:
1. Safety announcement
2. Ride over stay seated “Stay seated until directed to exit.”
3. Exit “Attention drivers, you may now exit your car and the track. As you exit please do not run or push. Thank you for racing with us and please come again.”
Why Voice Over is Used
If you think about it, voice over is used to:
The use of voice over in games, be they video games or otherwise, has become commonplace.
What About You?
Can you think of a time where you heard a voice over in an arcade?
Perhaps you are the voice of a game that is distributed in arcades. Maybe you’ve even had the opportunity to play a game your voice is featured in.
Add your thoughts as a comment and join the conversation!
Looking forward to hearing from you.