By Stephanie Ciccarelli
October 22, 2007
Wherever there are video games, there are voice actors and there are gamers, and there are all kinds of opinions on the subject of the voice overs in games...
While the two groups of people may be worlds apart, one deeply affects the other to the extreme and may even determine the overall success and sales of a video game.
"Heavy lies the head that wears the crown."
~ William Shakespeare, Henry IV
When it comes to voice acting for video games, we could go on and on about the celebrities who are getting in on the game, the enormous profits of blockbuster productions and animation beyond all expectations... but, that would be boring.
We've been there done that, so today I'd like to examine another side of the perception of video game voice acting specific to the gaming experience.
Here are some facts to consider about gamers:
1. Gamers fully understand the characters in RPGs (role playing games)
2. Gamers have a preconceived notion of what the voice accompanying the characters should sound like
3. Gamers demand that the voice acting in their video games meets their expected reality
4. Gamers are keenly sensitive regarding how the characters are portrayed
5. Gamers are quick to judge, most of all, the voice actors and voice overs used in video games
I've read enough threads, forum posts and blog entries to know that if a gamer or community of gamers doesn't like the voice overs or a voice actor / voice acting cast, it becomes evident quite quickly, whether the criticisms are deserved or not.
The potential volatility that may ensue should a game have voice overs that don't correlate with what a gamer is expecting causes one to stop and think.
Many games released here in North America have been imported from overseas, generally from Asia, and have gone through a round or two of localization and editing. The script is not precisely the same (after all, it's hard to translate colloquialisms) and the original meaning or purpose of each line and phrase as a result may have been altered to the point that the intended meaning has changed drastically to better align with our language and culture.
With a script that has changed, even if slightly, the interpretation of the storyline and voice acting will also be slightly different, which is hardly the fault of a voice actor.
What is it about voice acting in video games that strikes such a nerve?
Does it come down how large the budgets are, thus determining who gets the gig, OR is it more about researching the characters and presenting a fan base (the gamers) with voice acting that rings true to how they envision a particular character or set of characters to be?
Talk about responsibility!
What is video game voice acting to you? Should voice overs determine what gamers think of the entire gaming experience?
Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.
P.S. If you are a gamer, please share your feelings on voice acting in video games.