This article by Linda Kutzer is the first in a series of posts by members of the platform who were specially selected and invited to participate in Voice123 blog challenges. If you’d like to know more, please contact our client success team!
I decided recently to take an afternoon off and search for famous videogame voice actors because I’m more and more interested in what it takes to become one of the best. I’m a fairly new voice actor myself, who would certainly like the opportunity of playing a videogame character someday.
Although gaming has been around for a few decades already, voice acting as an integral part of it only really came to prominence in the late 90s.
Voice actors brought gamers closer to the characters they were playing, and made for a much more enjoyable playing experience; emotions became part of the mix. Of course, a bad acting performance could make for a bad experience for the player as well, so finding the right voices for the characters was of paramount importance.
Many well-known game developers are willing to take the risk of bringing high-quality voices to gamers.
There are two ways of looking at this if you have the budget:
- You can go for the sure thing by hiring someone already well-known, or
- You can do a little more searching and find that new talent that just may be the next videogame star.
There are plusses and minuses to both tactics.
With an already famous voice actor, you can probably get a good chunk of their following to buy your video-game. You’re also likely to get a superb acting performance — but may need to pay serious money.
Finding new talent is more time consuming even if it’s less costly.
For one thing, you’ll have to know what you are looking for to match the voices with your characters. You’ll have to listen to a lot of audio and do some research on the actors and their body of work.
The benefit of finding new talent, of course, is that your characters will sound fresh and unique; you could be launching the next best videogame voice actors into the gaming sphere! By doing this, your brand would become distinctive.
I have played games for many years, though some I played didn’t have characters who spoke. I started paying more attention to ones that do. YouTube led me to The Top 10 Video Game Voice Actor Performances according to WatchMojo (Criteria: single-game performances, one entry per franchise).
What I really like about this video is that the clips were very nicely done and showcased the actors’ ability and versatility really well. I also appreciated the fact that they shared their voting pages so you could see who voted and how many votes the actors received. They also had male and female favorites. I feel this is important if you want to fill a variety of roles in your videogame.
IMDB-Film-TV-Animation-Games has a list of the Top 20 Male Video Game Voice Actors of All Time! Quite impressive — though I wish they had included female actors as I have not been able to find a comparable list for female videogame voice actors with similar criteria.
IMDB actually did a great job of setting a selection standard. Their choices were compiled following a four-year study of credits, polls, industry recommendations, IMDB data, IMDB pro algorithms, and studio references. The criteria they used was based on versatility, character creation, as well as overall genre experience.
Inevitably, you’ll see some names come up over and over again on different lists.
They also have a mixed-gender list of the Top 30 FAVORITE Video Game Voice Actors of All Time.
Great acting in videogames: criteria
When it comes to choosing the best videogame voice actors what should one listen out for — listenability, complexity, or versatility?
This is the question RANKER asks on its site and has taken votes from the public to find their top 15 performers.
What I liked about this site is that they also mentioned when the actor was listed as one of the The All-Time Best Voice Actors or other ranking credentials.
Complex has a list of 25 greatest videogame voice acting performances, but there are no images and the site has large gaps between the names of the actors and the description of their performance.
Whatculture.com has its own 10 Best Lead Voice Acting Performances In Videogames. This site was interesting in that it focused attention on the characters and not the actor. No picture of the actor at all, just some video of the main character and a sample of their performance.
The performances were powerful and sometimes graphic. Not for the fainthearted.
The GAMER has a list of the 8 best and worst Videogame voice actors and I was surprised to see the name of an actor in one of my favorite games (Resident Evil) listed as a poor performer — but hey, tastes differ. Again, there are no images of the actors; just the characters.
Shacknews on YouTube has their own top ten. The actors had to be professional voice actors and not actors who simply did a couple voice stints.
They took votes from both the Shacknews staff and its community. The selection provided clips of performances and of the actors themselves.
Gamespot has a list of nineteen of the best videogame voice actors who are really already very famous actors or music stars, although they just offer screenshots of the characters and a short blip about the actors who played them.
The next generation
Even though my initial idea was to search for the best videogame voice actors, why just look for famous ones? Surely there must be a bunch of unknown but talented voice actors one can find?
I put myself in the shoes of an indie developer looking for talent for a new game. Where would I go if I had obvious budgetary constraints?
Gameasutra puts it this way: “Having a voice creates a deeper connection to a character. That connection turns to devotion, accelerated, possibly, by that voice’s pre-existing fandom. Devotion turns to obsession, and suddenly it’s the only thing Tumblr’s talking about. So it’s not so much a matter of “hey this game is fully-voiced” as it is “hey, this game stars John Johnson as a green pigeon. Come listen to him make cooing sounds for ten hours.”
Are you looking for new talent who may become the next generation of famous voice actors?
Well, then Voice123 is a great place to start!