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Video Game Voice Over
Creating an immersive video game experience takes more than stunning graphics and gameplay. When it comes to developing a video game that brings characters and worlds to life, sourcing the right voice over makes all the difference. Whether you’re creating an action adventure game set in another dimension, a strategy game filled with twists and turns, or a sports game that puts players in the shoes of top athletes, skilled video game voice actors deliver a captivating performance that brings another level to the gaming experience play after play.
Video game voice actors can be heard across every video game platform, from arcade games to console games, PC games, and even mobile and online gaming. Playing a pivotal role in many genres, these voice over professionals guide players through complex storylines, puzzles, and, at times, provide some much needed comic relief in high stress situations. For instance, you can hear a video game voice actor as the lovable hero in an action adventure game, as the wise and trusted narrator in an educational game, or as the aloof but sometimes helpful NPC in a role playing game.
How to select a voice actor for video games
When selecting the right voice actor for your project, there are two distinct categories of video game voice over roles to consider: video game voice actors and video game narrators. Video game voice actors are the character voices heard throughout the game, while narrators typically provide instruction, context, or alert players to their progress in a level. While both roles require a high level of skill, each role brings a different element to the gameplay and requires a specific skill set.
Given the dynamic nature of video games, video game voice actors are often required to record the same phrases multiple times, with slight variations in tone, pacing, or attitude to avoid distracting voice over repetition in gameplay. These professionals can shift their delivery in an instant, changing volume and timbre when called for during loud and intense gameplay, or even changing their expression mid sentence when the script calls for it. Because the characters found in video games are so diverse — ranging from character species, to role, and depending on game genre — different types of voices are required to bring the universe and these characters to life.
Video game voice over styles
When it comes to video game voice over to service various roles, creative professionals are often drawn to these styles of voice over: animated, aggressive, charismatic, and authentic. The animated voice over style is recognized for its high energy and expressive style, and is best suited for adventure and arcade games. Aggressive video game voices are assertive, bold, and fierce, and are regularly used to voice the antagonist or villain in role playing and adventure games. The charismatic vocal style is charming and magnetic, pulling players further into gameplay with engaging dialogue. Creative professionals choose an authentic voice over style to develop a likeable video game character, giving human and non human characters a believable and approachable quality. This style of video game voice over is versatile and can be heard across action adventure games, educational games, and most other genres.
The impact of video game voice over
Though video game narrators might not always be on screen characters, they serve an important role in gameplay. A trusted companion, this voice over professional delivers helpful hints throughout the game, sometimes alerting players when their health is low or when they are headed toward the wrong destination. Video game narrators also set the stage in cut scenes through storytelling, sharing important plot points and delivering instructions for the next leg of the journey. While narrators typically take on a conversational and relatable approach in their voice over delivery, fantasy or other worldly video game settings open up the possibility for narrators to take a more whimsical and enchanting approach to narration — like that of a wise old owl, for example.
No matter the type or style of video game voice over you need, you can find what you’re looking for on Voices. Our professional video game voice actors have been hired for over 12,000 video game projects to date and counting. Take a listen to our voice actors’ demos to find the right voice for your project today.
Frequently Asked Questions
Video game voice over is the dialogue heard within a video game.
A video game narrator sets the tone for the video game through voice over and can act as storyteller or helpful guide throughout the game's journey.
If your character is human, your character should speak with an accent or dialect native to where they are from. In the case of other worlds, you have the freedom to decide what your character should sound like. Often, creative professionals choose animated, aggressive, charismatic, or authentic vocal styles depending on the role of the character.
Give as much general detail about your characters as you can to help the actor get a sense of who they are portraying, and have the voice actor read lines that don’t have other character or location names (or change those names for the purposes of the audition). You want to ensure you give the actor enough detail to get into character and give you an audition that you know will translate when they have full information, and being mindful of swapping out or removing identifying information can strike a good balance.
One way to keep game content, including downloadable content (DLC), secret has to do with nondisclosure agreements (NDAs) for anyone who works on the game. This includes voice actors. Have the voice actor sign an NDA as a legally-binding way to ensure any information about your video game doesn’t get leaked to the public. Read more about NDAs and when you should issue one.
The more information you can supply a voice actor about the character, the better. This includes what the character looks like, what environment they find themselves in, what their storyline and personality traits are, any back-story to their development which is available, and more. Supplying your voice actor with an image or detailed description of the character’s physical appearance is extremely important as well. If you can also provide your voice actor with a storyboard or other scene-setting information, you will really help set them up for success.
Hiring authentic voices you can trust can be a challenge, especially when you’re looking for an authentic voice in a language you don’t speak. In order to ensure that you are hiring the most authentic voice for your video game, you will want to do your research. You can search voice actors by the language, accent or dialect you are seeking and take a listen to their demos to ensure they have the sound you are after. If they have completed work in the language you are looking for that is a good indication that they may be the voice you need for your video game project.
Historically, male voice actors tended to be favored in video games, but lately there has been a rise in the demand for female video game voice actors. In 2018, female voice actors dominated 43% of the video game voice acting industry, up from 21% the year before.
Script delivery is key: The right voice actor will be able to adhere to script markups (such as pronunciation indicators) with ease and adapt to the flow of the project. Their dialogue is convincing: Volume, timbre and accent should be taken into consideration when searching for the ideal voice over actor. Think especially of cutscenes, which help to develop and move the plot through conversation. They have experience with video games or other performance-based genres: Video game voice actors are truly putting on performances with their voice alone. Finding a voice actor with experience in this industry, or someone who has demos that showcase their versatility, is crucial to setting up your video game project for success. Know your audience: Your listening audience may enjoy a certain style of voicing, expect words to be pronounced in a particular way, or be accustomed to hearing a specific voice type. Knowing this about your audience will help you to decide who should be the voice of your video game character. Consistent vocal performance: A video game project is a long term project. Finding a voice actor who is able to sound consistent throughout the whole game is crucial to an engaging gaming experience, especially if they have come up with a unique-sounding character voice, different from their normal speaking voice. Give your voice actors long pieces of the script so they can maintain the same read throughout.
There are ways you can help your voice actor nail their read of your script and create engaging and authentic character voices, just as you envisioned. Here are a few things you can do during the process to minimize the amount of revisions and retakes: Provide images to your voice actor: For the voice actor to really bring your video game character to life, it helps if you provide them with as many images as possible. An image of what the character looks like, or the scenery they will live in, will really help your voice actor give the most authentic and believable read possible.This could also include a storyboard to really help them get a sense of the game world and the storyline. Provide a piece of the dialogue (script) when auditioning voice actors: While you may not want to reveal the entire script, you should have all auditioning voice actors read a lengthy piece of dialogue in order to really get a feel of how they portray your character and if it is to the desired effect. Let them get physical: Giving voice actors a script that is complete with actions will allow your voice actor to perform those same actions in their recording booth. Does your character jump up and down a lot? Give those cues to your voice actor so they can consider that in their performance and really get into the context and mindset of the character. Outline the character’s emotional development: If your storyline is complex, it could help you voice actor immensely by providing them with a character development. This could simply be a few lines that tell the story of the character so that the voice actor has an idea of the emotion they should be portraying at certain points throughout the narrative.
If you have multiple voice actors who will be recording separately, it can be helpful to enable each voice actor to hear a vocal sample of their ‘cast members.’ You can do this by providing each voice actor with an audio file (audition, or snippet from a scene in the game) of each other’s reads. When voice actors work together, their aim is to enhance the story and convey the message, along with ensuring that their voice fits within the end project seamlessly. By enabling each actor to hear their cast mates, you allow them to assess how their voice will fit amongst the other characters.