Video game voice overs have become increasingly common among new releases, which means games need to have high quality voice acting just to stay competitive in the market. Game studios that ignore the importance of voice overs may well be ignoring the desires of their audience — and those that settle for low quality voice work aren’t doing themselves any favors, either.
Voice Overs and Storytelling in Video Games
With a few exceptions, a video game’s storyline is what keeps a gamer engaged, and to tell a story these days, you need a voice. Gone are the days of simple text on the screen being able to impress audiences. With advances in sound quality and storage capacity, the passion and realism that come along with professional voice overs aren’t unique selling points — they’re practically required.
Even in this era of ubiquitous voice acting, a game like Bioware’s “Star Wars: The Old Republic” takes voice overs to a whole new level — it features voice acting for every single line of in-game dialogue, from the most minor shopkeepers to political powerhouses. With the bar set so high, game studios need to focus on obtaining video game voice overs that are of impressive quality.
The Importance of Quality in Video Game Voice Overs
Whenever possible, it’s wise to use a different actor for each voice over, or at least a few actors with a wide range of voices. Gamers are observant and passionate about their favorite video games, so if several characters seem to share a voice, they will notice — and probably not in a good way. After all, most people would notice if the same actor were to play several roles in a single show or film, and the same rules apply to games.
Whether you have poor quality voice overs or a lack of actors, noticing these shortcomings is likely to take gamers out of the fictional world you are trying to create. When they no longer feel immersed in the story, they tend to stop playing, making video game voice overs quite crucial to maintaining a loyal, active customer base.
Finding the Right Voice
It’s tempting to think that celebrity voice actors are required for a game to be successful — but it isn’t true. Not all game studios have the budget, or even the desire, to cast celebrities in video game voice over roles. Whether or not your voice actors are household names, the important thing is that they have both talent and skill. For the kind of high quality voice acting that impresses players, you’d do well to hire a professional voice over agency to provide you with all the voices you need.
Of course, if you have the budget for it, you can do well by offering voice over roles to celebrities. For example, Patrick Stewart has lent his voice to a number of “Star Trek” video games, as well as “Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion,” to name just a few of his interactive credits.
“Grand Theft Auto: Vice City” featured the voice of Ray Liotta, while James Woods lent his voice to “Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.” “Fallout: New Vegas” used the voices of Ron Perlman, Matthew Perry, and Wayne Newton, among others. Having recognizable voices attached to a project tends to raise its profile, and these actors’ existing fan bases can help drive sales. But again, it’s not a necessity — each project has its own demands, and often the best fit for a character comes from a voice actor the audience hasn’t heard of yet.
An additional benefit of using an experienced agency for video game voice over assistance is that you can often get your voice work done in multiple languages by the same company. If you plan to market your game in other countries, accurate translation and pronunciation of your script is crucial, and you won’t usually get that when you focus simply on hiring a celebrity.
Whether you want voice acting completed in one or several languages, your goal should always be a high quality voice over that fits your budget and your delivery schedule. After all, the quality of a video game voice over can affect your studio’s reputation among gamers — and a good voice over can bring fans back for the next installment.