This topic is apparently a serious enough complaint with gamers that it’s created something of a blogbath this week on the subject…and these are just a handful of articles that came up in a recent Google search:
– The Brainy Gamer: Voicing Concern — definite recommended read on this one as it includes an interview with an unnamed actor who offers insight from his 10 years of experience working as a video game voice actor.
– The Brainy Gamer: Voice for Change – also a recommended read as it offers an overview of a panel presentation from the recent Game Developers Conference by a company that specializes in video game voice recording.
– The Escapist: Why Voice Acting Sucks In Video Games
– Kotaku: How Dumbed Down Acting is Creating Dumbed Down Games
– 1Up.com: Voice Actors Discuss Challenges in Game Industry
– Voice Overture: The State of Voice Acting In Video Games
– CandaceHolly.com: Bad Acting, Bad Games – perspective from a video game voice actor.
– GoNintendo.com: Quality voice acting is hard to come by
As both a gamer and a voice actor, I’m in generally in agreement with most of the points these bloggers address. However, I wish they weren’t overall so neglectful in mentioning more games that do feature great character voice acting. I’ve even played some games that were formulaic, mediocre, crappy, or frustrating for various reasons (Ex: RLH: Run Like Hell, Star Wars: The Phantom Menace for the PC, and the Transformers: Armada game for the PS2), but became tolerable and entertaining (for me, at least) on account of the quality voice acting.
How about the upcoming Ghostbusters game, which has the celebrity voice cast heavily involved in the project? Or Vin Diesel‘s extensive involvement in The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena? And what about Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard featuring the voice talents of Will Arnett and Neil Patrick Harris? While the reviews for the game weren’t all positive, those I read all made favorable comments about the voice acting.
And of all these articles, very few offer any counter-perspective by mentioning recent titles with solid voice acting, such as MadWorld which received fair praise from critics and gamers for the improv-style performances by John Di Maggio, Greg Proops, and Steve Blum.
But I’ll grant that far too many video games unfortunately do have poor voice acting, and for the very reasons cited by Brainy Gamer blogger Michael Abbott. He makes some very valid points and offers some great suggestions for improving the quality of video game voice acting, so here’s hoping game developers/producers take note and perhaps it will motivate them to make the effort to produce better quality voice performances in the future.
And I’d be remiss myself if I concluded this article without mentioning AudioAtrocities.com — an entire website devoted to “the study and enjoyment of truly terrible voice acting in video games.”