By David Ciccarelli
June 7, 2010
The video game industry is one of the largest and most profitable markets in the world. For years, it's been the fastest growing segment of the entertainment industry and has since eclipsed motion pictures. In the U.S., the gaming market raked in 19.6 billion dollars in revenue in 2009. In that same year, the Hollywood box office took in only 9.7 billion dollars.
72% of Americans are gamers and use a variety of gaming consoles. Other than innovative game ideas and superior graphics, part of this success is due to the astounding voice talent that heightens the experience of playing the games.
The first game to add voice over work and truly get attention is widely attributed to Final Fantasy X. The Final Fantasy series had already become iconic, having first debuted in 1987. Since its debut, there has been at least one Final Fantasy game for every gaming console model produced. Due to it's immense popularity, when Final Fantasy X was released and the characters had their own voices, the entire gaming world knew about it. The voice actors hired to perform in the game helped the characters to connect with gamers in a spellbinding way. For the first time, gamers were able to hear the emotions in main character Tidus' voice as he professed his love for his companion, Yuna. This was a breakthrough in the gaming world.
Now, the majority of games available on the market have voice over work included. It's an absolute must to capture the attention of gamers. The voice over world, especially in gaming, is considered almost compulsory, so it's very common to find the same person getting voice over jobs one right after the other, meaning the same voice appears in games that are wildly different.
For instance, Claudia Black did voice work in three extremely different games out in 2009; Dragon Age: Origins, a game about magic and dragons, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, a game similar to the Indiana Jones movie series, and Mass Effect 2, a game that takes place far into the future in outer space. In all of these games, she contributed to the game's massive success, helping to make the games extremely enjoyable and sought out by gaming enthusiasts worldwide.
A voice over project is not easy to perform. The average game will possess around 8,000 lines of dialogue. For the particularly long, epic RPG (role playing games) games, that number can even go beyond 70,000 lines of dialogue. As if recording all of that wasn't enough, there's more! Voice actors often have to record the same line in multiple inflections, known as takes (more definitions), so that the best take for the situation can be used in the game.
The PS3, Xbox 360, and Wii require their games to have voice acting, even if it's minimal; that's just what consumers today expect. Even smaller systems like the PSP and Nintendo DS sometimes include cut scenes with voice actors. Without good voice actors, players will not be able to connect emotionally to their characters, so the realism factor is drastically reduced.
The inclusion of voice over is integral to console based games and what we are seeing now is indicative of a growing trend in the direction of more cinematic, quality games.
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