A voice over career is a versatile, flexible, fun way to practice your art of voice over while making money. One genre where voice over plays a huge part is video games, so here is all about how to get started on voice over video game work and break into the industry.
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The Importance of Voice over in Video Games
Video games have moved up in the genre of voice acting to one of the most valued pieces around. A voice can make or break a video game. Quite a number of examples show this. In fact, even the most poorly written games can come alive when the right actor takes it on. A talented voice actor can work magic in a video game.
Here’s an example from VGChartz:
A great example of a game with bad writing saved to a certain extent by competent voice acting is Platinum Games’ Vanquish. The writing in the game could charitably be called corny. Descriptors like poorly written and stupid also come to mind. Fortunately, the voice actors managed to make the dialogue work, mostly by embracing the silliness instead of trying to make it too serious.
Or in the converse, an unskilled actor can take great writing and well, make it not work. This article also shares some games almost ruined by poor voice acting. However, other components luckily saved the game. Voice certainly isn’t the only factor of success or failure in a game, but it’s a very important one. You do have elements in the game that have their own value, like visuals, writing, gameplay, and storyline. But as far as character connection, voice is pretty essential.
A great voice can lift a good game to new heights, save it from other elements, and connect the players to the characters. When a player connects with a character, solid interaction is born. When a player can’t really believe a character due to his or her voice acting, well, the player may just move on to something else.
An Overlooked Part of the Game?
And with all the importance the voice adds to the game, the players can overlook it. As the above article mentions:
Voice acting is something that we come across in almost every single new video game that we play nowadays, but still many rarely seem to pay much attention to it beyond acknowledging its existence.
As with many voice acting roles, you as the actor may go unnoticed. And video games are certainly one of these genres where this happens. We all know Tom Hanks is Woody from Toy Story. But he’s Tom Hanks, and Toy Story is well, Toy Story. Video game voice actors don’t get quite as much credit or fame, but they are oh, so integral to the game.
Different Types of Voices in Video Games and How To Get Started on Voice Over Video Game
In video games, we see some consistent characters from game to game. When you think you could act as a particular one of these, that’s who you should go for. You, as the actor, should fit the character, and some actors just fit more than others. So when you are starting out in this field, it’s important to identify some of the main types of video game characters.
Video game voice acting is different than other genres. In fact, each genre has its own identity, from the calm voice in a documentary to the lively voice in an animated film. But whatever genre it may be, good voice acting is imperative, and the actor must fit the genre.
Different Types of Voices in Video Games
Let’s take a look at some of the classic characters in video games and think about their voices. Like other genres, there are a handful of common characters who we expect to see in the games. The more you know of the typical character, the better you can tailor your voice to one or the other as you get started in this field.
Gamesradar.com has identified about 15 common characters in video games. While every game probably won’t have all of them, each game will have a few. As you get started in this genre, take a look and see who you’d like to voice. Here are just a few:
The Cool Cat – This guy takes it all in stride and will be chilling on the sidelines while everyone else weeps. They’ll show up at just the right time and save the day, all while maintaining a calm composure. Some examples are Linca (Atelier series) and Auron (Final Fantasy X).
The Compassionate Mystic – This character always puts him or herself first; they may have a superpower or a long lineage. Often soft-spoken, calm, and empathetic, some examples are Bastila (Knights of the Old Republic) and Yuna (Final Fantasy X).
The Grizzled Veteran – We all know this character; we often see him in lots of other genres, too. Think Haymitch in The Hunger Games. This guy can be a mentor, father figure, or reluctant curmudgeon, but always has wise words to offer when all else is falling apart.
The Staunch Optimist – Games Radar explains this guy as the one who never is quiet, even when doom and gloom are facing everyone. In their chipper way, they build everyone else up. Maybe they are hiding something, maybe not. We know them as Snow (Final Fantasy XIII) and Riki (Xenoblade Chronicles).
You’ve got some other typical characters, like the bench warmer, the flirt, the noble, and the gentle giant. When you are starting out in this genre, think about who you are the most alike, or think about whose voice you’d like to portray. If being loud and intense isn’t your thing, you may want to give the mystic a try. The better you can portray a character through voice, the more successful you’ll be.
How To Get Started on Voice Over Video Game
Now that you’ve narrowed down characters and voices, it’s time to hone your own voice and then seek some jobs. Let’s take a look at some things you can do to make your voice the best it can be.
For one, you can take a look at some of the experts in the field. When you study some of the great performances, you can immediately see what works. And then you can work on emulating it. Notice inflection and timing and subtle nuances. These are all the ways you can make your voice come alive and not sound like you’re reading a script.
Another thing to do is practice, practice, practice. You may feel a little silly at first, but practice is how you are going to get good. If you’ve never done any voice work, then you’ll want to start with the fundamentals. You can do some exercises like:
- tongue twisters
- reading books out loud in different voices
- engage your imagination
- find free practice scripts
- play different characters
- record yourself, and as cringy as it may be, listen back to it
All of these things will help you refine your skills. Then you can move on to specific practice for video game voice overs. Try to find some video game voice over scripts and work on those. Refine your characters and build a resume with sample recordings of yourself. Work on your endurance as voice acting for video game characters can be demanding and exhausting. Then you have to get yourself an audition. Oh yeah, make sure you’re familiar with video games and the characters. In other words, play them.
How to Find Video Game Voice Over Jobs
People find their voice jobs in different ways, but one of the most common is auditioning through a voice company, like Bunny Studio. When you go this route, you apply with the company and then you’re set to get jobs. Clients can search for voices like yours, and you can apply when you see a fit. Voice artists often like working this way because a lot of the intricacies of the job are taken care of, like payments, deadlines, and negotiations.
Some people are lucky enough to be a community where they can get their name out and find jobs that way. This makes it easier to find work and word of mouth can be a big help if you are active in the video game production community. Once you get some work under your belt, and you’ve done a good job, the demand for your voice will pick up.
Don’t be afraid to take on other related work. It will only build and add to your portfolio. This could encompass other voice work, commercials, even stage acting. The more experience you get while you are starting out, the more marketable you can be. Then once you’ve got your name (and voice) established in the video game world, watch demand pick up. The key is to get yourself out there!
The Big Take Away on How To Get Started on Voice Over Video Game Acting
If you are being enticed by video games and feel a pull towards voice acting in video games, go for it! It’s a very well paying job once you get the work. The key here is to find your niche, study, and refine it. In the meantime, don’t be afraid to take on other work to further hone your skills. Think about what type of character you’d like to portray. Are you the soft-spoken, mystical type, or the dynamic, bold hero? Maybe you are blessed with versatility and you can take on a few different types of video game characters. Whatever it may be, practice! And then practice some more. Start auditioning, and before you know it, you could be making a name for yourself in the world of video game voice acting. Good luck!