How Voice Acting Has Changed The Video Games Industry

By Lauren Alessandra on March 13, 2010, 4:58PM EDT
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Voice acting, as defined by Wikipedia, is the act of "providing one's voice to an animated character." Though its origin is unknown it's been safely lodged in the acting world for quite some time now. Disney, as many of you are well aware, has been well known for its animated movies and, more impressively, as a voice acting pioneer. Snow White (1937) was the company's first full-length animated feature film made and Adriana Caselotti voiced the movie's title character.

Nowadays, voice-over work is used not only in animated movies, but radio, commercials, and above all things, videogames. Voice work in video games has evolved immensely over the last decade. In the 90s, games like Mortal Kombat provided its gamers with silly one-liners and games like The Lion King for the Sega Genesis took voice clips from the actual movie. Now, voice acting has spilled into new genres of games. RPG characters, which were once silent, now have definitive voices offering gamers a closer connection to them. Voice over work also helps set environments in games much like the abandoned warehouse in Condemned, where players are spooked by the voices of various enemies coming at them. Vic Mignogna, who plays Junpei in Persona 3, agrees that "The more the player can identify with and get into a character's journey, the more they will enjoy the game overall." This is apparent in titles such as Final Fantasy X. This game, originally released in 2001, is one of the series' pioneers; introducing voices to the main characters. This created a bond between gamers and their characters like never before.

With that being said, gamers have shared quite a few disagreements about the use of voice actors. When reading a script, a director and an actor have to make decisions on how a line is to be said and for what reason. The issue here is that when these characters didn't have a voice, the players could create their own voices for the characters and get an entirely different meaning based on what was said than someone else. For example, if someone was playing Grand Theft Auto IV and thought that maybe Niko, the main character, should not have an eastern European accent. They'd play through the game with their own interpretation of what Niko sounded like. Also, certain voice actors, such as Nolan North, are being used over and over again in different games. Just recently, he played lead characters in both the Assassin's Creed series and the Uncharted series. This doesn't offer much of a variety for gamers. Finally, there's the chance that maybe the voice actor chosen just was not right for the part. In which case the player might completely negate any feelings he or she may have had to the characters/story.

Luckily for us, this issue seems to be happening less and less. Yuri Lowenthal, who plays The Prince in the Prince of Persia Sands of Time series, believes that "as the games have gotten better and more expansive, so has the voice acting." Scripts in games have become much more sophisticated and the actors treat them like a screenplay for a movie. As Cam Clarke, better known as Liquid Snake from Metal Gear Solid, says "The scripts that come in are totally like feature film scripts which requires, and I must add delightfully so, real acting as opposed to just screaming and shouting and dying." Also worth noting is that while recording for Uncharted 2, the actors all recorded in the same room at the same time. Many voice actors have noted their disappointment in not being able to meet their co-stars face to face while working. This may become the normal ritual for voice actors to take part in.

Voice acting has come a long way. From Scorpion's, "Get over here!" to Sora's heart-wrenching "I'll come back to you, I promise!", so many characters have now received a voice. As its sophistication grows, we can only hope to expect better and more honest performances from the voice actors that we know and love. So all you aspiring voice actors out there! Don't fret! Voice acting in video games is here to stay!

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