Voice acting is an essential part in the creation of video games. There are also other roles of importance, which directly support voice talent when creating such productions. Who does what? We will take a look a video game voice acting jobs in this article, and those who make it happen.
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Video Game Voice Acting
Voice actors, also called voice artists, are the main player when it comes to video game voice acting jobs. They are used when the video game is going to be created or dubbed into a particular language.
Voice acting is quite simply acting. Traditional on-screen acting on television or film includes the actor completely. Video game voice acting jobs, or indeed voice acting in general, merely uses this actor’s voice.
The process is therefore quite simple. The voice actor must generally go into a recording booth and provide the voice for the different roles in a piece of content. In the case of video games, such a voice actor will provide the voice of animated characters on-screen.
Original Voices and Dubbing
Some of these voices are original and others are dubbing. What this means is simply that in some cases the actor will provide the first voice of a particular project. In other cases, however, the voice actor will have to dub a character. This dubbing involves several things, which we will discuss shortly.
Voice Acting is Acting!
The main thing we need to understand is that voice acting is, in essence, simply acting. What this means is that there is a wide range of things which voice actors must worry about, including the following:
Voice actors must develop a solid base of voice technique. The idea is to be able to take on a large range of jobs but to be able to do it with a degree of safety. An untrained voice artist may very well suffer voice injury.
Another crucial aspect for a voice artist is to realize that they must find their own style. It is important to understand that voice work not only requires classically beautiful voices. In fact, there is a wide range of voices needed. Anime (and related video games) in particular require a wide array of voices and thus a wide range of voice artists.
Another technique, often overlooked, is being able to lip-synch to an image on a screen. This is often an ability which is overlooked, but quite useful.
Health & Safety
As mentioned, safety is very important. One of the kernels of voice training is teaching talent to be able to handle voices with a degree of safety.
For starters, voice talent must learn not to overuse their voice. Proper rest is crucial. Also, learning to handle the extremes of voice use is important. Whispering and screaming in particular are two risky activities (though sometimes necessary in particular scripts).
There are also a good amount of drills which voice artists learn to properly warm up their voices. Breathing in particular is the basis of a lot of safe voice acting.
Auditioning is at the heart of voice acting. Traditionally, voice talent has had to audition in-person, usually in specific cities known for voice work. There are a good amount of strategies to succeed at this sort of audition.
Nowadays, voice talent has the opportunity to audition online. This creates an added necessity. Not only does a voice artist have to master their craft and prepare the script. Now, there is a technical element which they must be proficient at if they want to send first-rate auditions online.
Translating the Script
We have seen voice acting as such. There are other related video game voice acting jobs. One such job is that of language specialists, in charge of translations.
The very first step in the dubbing process is translating the script. Consider a Japanese video game. A skilled translator, privy to Japanese culture, and a fan of video games, will have to translate the whole text. This script can then be used by the voice talent dubbing the game.
Precision vs. Aesthetics
There are several challenges in this language translation process. The first one is the dualism between precision and aesthetics. This is perhaps the most crucial debate in translation in general. It is a particularly prominent consideration in video game translation too.
Precision in translation is basically about translating text literally, even word for word. This creates a translation which is extremely precise, but perhaps not aesthetic. It can render meaning, but do so clumsily. On occasion, extreme precision will miss the nuances of the language altogether.
On the other hand, aesthetics is quite simply the beauty of the translation. A translator, when confronting a text, may decide to stray from literal precision. In turn, this translator may choose to simply convey the meaning of the text, but to do so aesthetically, with little regard for a word-for-word translation.
Note that his dualism has been given many names and definitions, which point towards the same thing. It is particularly important when considering video game translation.
Localizing the Script
A closely related point is the localization of the script. Localizing a script is simply making the translation of the content accessible to a particular market or country.
Consider a video game that is created in Japan. This video game would be translated for use in the Western world and then, if necessary, localized. If the game is going to the Spanish-speaking world, for instance, it would be translated into Spanish and localized into a particular version of the language.
If the game goes to Spain, then it would be translated and localized into ‘Spanish from Spain’. When the game is going to Latin America, then it would have to be translated and localized into ‘Latin American Spanish’ (usually this Spanish is quite simply Mexico City Neutral Spanish).
Levels of Localization
There are, evidently, various levels of localization, which video games may use:
(a) The first level is no localization at all. In this case, translations are left untouched. There is no emphasis in creating a particular localization which may benefit a specific market. The game is translated, dubbed and that is it.
(b) The second level would include translating but only localizing written materials. Such written materials may include instruction manuals and all sorts of other manuals and copy included with the game.
(c) A third level of localization includes translation and localization, but only partially. The text on the screen is translated and localized but the speech of characters is not translated at all, or perhaps only done via subtitles.
(d) Finally, a last level could be called total translation and full localization. This means casting and dubbing voice roles with an eye towards a very specific geographical market.
Getting it Recorded
There are obviously several ways to record voices for a video game. When it comes down to voicing or dubbing video games, technology is fast changing the game.
The first way is obviously the traditional route. This consists of recording studios and the personnel who work in them. This was the traditional route, whereby voice talent looked for opportunities in particular cities and stayed there to follow a voice acting career. This worked in the case of those providing original voices or dubbing games.
Recently though, the trend has been towards online video game voice acting jobs. Voice talent is now able to create their own recordings and send them online. More specifically, they may become affiliated with an online hub that can put these things together.
Online Hubs as the Future of Video Game Voice Acting Jobs
Online hubs are the future of outsourcing, that is for sure. Video game voice acting jobs, evidently, will benefit from these technologies.
First of all, when it comes to fulfilling video game voice acting jobs, outsourcing offers great advantages.
A small company engaging in video game design may significantly cut costs. If we are talking about a full video game translation, localization and dubbing we are looking at a lot of jobs that need to be fulfilled. Outsourcing them will certainly help a fledgling production.
A closely related issue is that of vetting. Online hubs offer a varied roster of talent that has already been vetted and found to be excellent. No need to risk hiring voice talent independently.
Large Scale, Flexible Solutions
Perhaps the most striking aspect of online hubs is how fast they are moving towards providing large and very flexible remote solutions.
In the beginning, online hubs provided only very specific solutions. If a client needed a particular piece of the puzzle, then an online hub would provide it. Imagine, for example, that a client came in with a very specific request for voice work. Now, it is possible to request much larger pieces, with very committed customer care to achieve something great.
The Gist of It
Video game voice acting jobs include the following:
- Translators: Ideally, these language professionals should know the culture of the source language. Also, it is always best if they are fans of video gaming in general and of the franchise they will be working on in particular.
- Proofreaders/Editors/Cultural Experts: As we have seen, it is far too easy to make a mistake when translating and localizing video games. To avoid silly mistakes that detract from the content, it is always a good idea to use another layer of quality control. Such a layer may include the use of some sort of editor who is a native in the target language.
- Voice Actors: Obviously, voice actors are the key protagonist in video game voice acting jobs. It is worth remembering that a voice actor is, first and foremost, an actor. This means that when casting a project, we must consider the whole person and prize their past experience in live-action acting as well as in voice acting.
- Designers: Graphic artists of different kinds may also be needed to create a lot of additional materials, such as packaging.