It’s safe to say that video games aren’t your grandma’s entertainment anymore; you may still be mentally stuck in the age of the NES and 8-bit games, but things have evolved, and how! Being a voice actor for video games is now a lucrative, rewarding career with plenty of opportunities to perform high-flying drama and comedy. And gamers know their stuff more than ever! If you’re looking for amazing voice actors that can bring your characters to life and delight your audience, read on!
Remember when games were B-list entertainment? Not too long ago, they were derided as “not art,” a playground for bad writers and even worse actors. But, times evolve, and so do people’s mindsets. Today, video games rival — or even surpass — the film industry in anything from quality stories, writing, and acting, to juicy profits. The value of the video game market in the US alone is over $65bn in 2021. Need I say more?
But, that means that it’s harder than ever to pull one over on your audience. No-no, says I, that just won’t fly. True, back in the 90’s video games had some questionable, or outright bad voice acting. But that story’s long over, and today you can find multi-million dollar productions that’ll have you turning on the waterworks faster than you can say “who’s peeling an onion?”
Therefore, finding an awesome voice actor for video games is not a bargain-bin search anymore. On the contrary, you can recruit talent that’ll have even an indie production sounding like you’ve hired Edward Norton.
Let’s take a look at some of the history behind this blooming profession, and where to find 5-star pros!
What Makes a Voice Actor for Video Games?
A voice actor for video games is, essentially, “just” a good voice actor. Meaning, they step in front of the mic, be it at home or a pro studio, and they record their lines with zest and — hopefully — ability. The high standards of the game industry mean that video game voice actors have to bring their best to every performance.
Generally, I’d say that video games are now on par with cartoons, anime, and even movies in the performance department. In fact, there’s more than a little bit of overlap in the talent department. The best actors do a little bit (or a lot) of everything. People like Steve Blum have tried it all, with a list of credits longer than this article.
And hey, voice acting, as a profession, is something we know and love at Bunny Studio. You could call it our bread n’ butter, and with good reason. We’ve covered voice acting, especially for video games, in detail before. Check out this bit from “A Video Game Voice Acting Walkthrough“:
Video games have been an active part of pop culture since the early 70s. With the entrance of Pong into the scene in ‘72, immense crowds gathered at arcades. This opened the door for the lucrative home console and PC gaming markets; in time, the simplistic games of yore gave way to open-ended, narrative-led experiences that rival any other medium. When improving technology opened the door for video game voice acting, gamers marveled.
The previously mute games suddenly exploded into a flurry of characters and performances that breathed life into the medium. Sure, no one seemed to care that the first years of video game voice acting were a little wonky. It took a while for people to get a hang of it, and for video game developers to actually know their stuff.
So yeah, it’s pretty much a given that things weren’t quite so dandy before.
A Bit of History for You
It always takes a while to get to the promised land. At first, being a voice actor for video games wasn’t even a profession, nor a hobby, nor even a concept. The first game with any voices in it (Starvox) dates back to 1980, and that didn’t use real voices, but a voice synthesis sample!
But that changed, and it did so by leaps and bounds. By 1983, Dragon’s Lair, a laser-disc arcade game, featured incredible animation by Don Bluth Studios. In one swift move, gamers suddenly had an interactive animated story that went toe-to-toe with the best movie theaters had to offer. While the game itself was rudimentary, and not very interactive — more like a “Choose Your Own Adventure” type of thing but requiring quicker reactions. Still, if this looks great today, imagine the way it blew minds in the early 80s!
Not only that, but characters spoke, yelled, screamed, and had personalities! Imagine the jump from retro, pixel-art games to 100% animation, you had to see it to believe it. But, of course, these games weren’t “really” interactive, but a collection of small movies that played depending on the player’s input. It would be a while before game makers could combine voices with real interactivity. And that limitation was mostly a factor of technology.
As the years went on, games (mostly on Arcade), started having more and more voices, though. But we were a long, long way from the fully-voiced cutscenes and character moments of today. Still, if you were playing a video game and a guard suddenly yelled: “Halt!” I can guarantee that your heart would skip a beat.
Voice Actor for Video Games: From CD-ROM to Reality
So, by the 1990s being a full-time voice actor for video games was still a glint in history’s eye. But the ball got rolling fast in the early 90s with the advent of CD-ROM, a technology that allowed highly detailed videos and voices to become a mainstay of video game lore.
These discs allowed games to incorporate better graphics, voice acting, and full-length videos into their stories. Games got more epic, their ambitions got more cinematic, and by the mid-90s, voice acting was everywhere.
You couldn’t turn around without finding a game sporting an all-star cast of well-known Hollywood or cartoon starts voicing characters. There were also attempts at creating “interactive movies” in the form of games that used real footage. This genre, known as “FMV games” often had… let’s just say less than A-list talent in them. They occasionally used guests (like Christopher Walken or Dennis Hopper) to up the ante.
But, ham-fisted stories were pretty commonplace. And the acting, well… let’s just say the quality of acting wasn’t exactly anything to write home about. While there are plenty of examples of bad voice acting in current video games, it was pretty common to experience cringe-worthy moments in the old times. So much, that bad voice acting sort of became a meme even before we knew about the concept.
Don’t believe me? Just take a good, hard look at the original Resident Evil from 1996. Yes, someone thought that these lines were worthy of a mass audience. And we’ll be forever grateful for it.
The Beautiful Now
And it is beautiful. Today, being a voice actor for video games is a mark of quality. It means they can stand shoulder to shoulder with the best of ’em. And it also means they’ve got a knack for doing voices, impersonating different characters, and inhabiting roles that have complexity, character, personality, and quality. They can handle anything from bit parts to multi-game roles that would make any TV writer proud.
And that’s because video games, from mainstream to indie, can cover a wide-ranging array of topics. Anything from romance, action, taboo subjects, hoity-toity philosophical issues, or simple, comedic stories that any kid would love are fair — ahem — game.
So, there’s not really a one-size-fits-all voice actor for video games. Some can be prolific, and real chameleons that can do all sorts of roles. Others over-specialize, and if you’re looking for that one perfect dwarf voice, they’re your men or women. The sky is really the limit, meaning that you can dream to your heart’s content. There’s always talent available to make things go from paper to fully voiced reality.
And you’ve got more variety and access to professionals than ever before. With freelancing sites and talent agencies galore, you can bet your bottom dollar that if it’s quality you want, you can get it. And it doesn’t mean you’ll have to pay up the wazoo for it, quite the contrary; some actors are really affordable and would be more than glad to get on board with your project. If you give a video game voice actor a great script that gets their juices flowing, they’ll make you a happy camper. Even more so, they’ll have your audience asking “who’s that?” and becoming real fans.
Where to Get a Quality Voice Actor for Video Games
I don’t want to brag, but Bunny Studio really is the best place to get a quality actor. Our growing roster of vocal pros is over 100,000 strong now. While not all of them specialize in doing video games, you can bet that they can bring it, or they wouldn’t be on the site at all. We have an eye for quality and consistency, and that’s a fact that makes us proud.
So, if you check out our site, you’ll see you can find the perfect voice by:
- Browsing samples and profiles.
- Tailoring your search for your preferred budget.
- Viewing each pro’s qualifications to see whether they’re a right fit for the job.
- Just focus on receiving awesome results fast, with a quality guarantee to boot!
We’ve made the process simple, easy, and fun! You just concentrate on giving the pro your script, and we’ll do the rest. For shorter projects, our turnaround is typically very short (less than a day), and you’d be surprised at how fast — and how well — our pros can complete their work on a long script.
So, hire a Bunny Studio pro today and make your game world come alive!