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Video Game Voice Over: Turning Up the Volume

Video Game Voice Over: Turning Up the Volume

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Remember Tetris? Did you know it’s been around 40 years since the game was initially released? This gaming classic and its addictive gameplay, although now buried under the sands of time, remains widely recognized by old school, seasoned gamers. Video games rom the older eras, such as Tetris, Pac-man, Donkey Kong, or Space Invaders were simple, but challenging to play – they worked out your brain with puzzle-solving elements and were fast-paced enough to keep on your toes.

Although you might like to turn back the clock and revert back to your younger self to relive the first-time gaming experience with these gamer classics, there’s still a lot to look forward to in gaming today. Since then, game developers have made audacious efforts to come up with bolder concepts and incorporate more captivating storylines, hyper-realistic graphics, and ultimately – outstanding video game voice acting. What’s not to love about that? These efforts have evidently paid off too. In fact, Statista has determined that the global gaming market value is set to exceed $372 billion this year. And this number will continue to rise.

Now let’s turn our attention to voice over, before our time spans run out. In this article, we take a look at a few brilliant video game voice overs and what made them so hugely successful, featuring examples you’ll absolutely love. Turn up the volume and let’s go!

When a game’s voice acting gets insanely good – Far Cry 3 is by far the definition of insanity!

Far Cry 3 is a first-person shooter developed by Ubisoft Montreal. This game has witnessed colossal success during its lifetime and is perhaps gamers’ favorite installations in the series. While the luxuriant setting, stunning graphics, and awesome gameplay made it truly stand out amongst fans, the video game’s voice over also helped with setting it apart.
Vaas, the game’s iconic villain character, transitions between a calm and soothing tone to a brutally angry one almost seamlessly and instantaneously. The voice actor’s skills contributed to the game’s blockbuster-level success without a doubt, and set the pattern for this type of character in the gaming industry altogether.

So who is Vaas’ voice actor in Far Cry 3?

Well, it was no other than Michael Mando, popularly known for his other voice acting roles as Mac Gargan in Spider-Man: Homecoming, Scorpion in Mortal Kombat 11, and many more. Having one of the best voice actors give life to Vaas certainly helped enhance the game’s acoustic appeal. You might want to give the game another go (and another) after listening to his performance.

When a video game’s voice over betrays the plot – The House of the Dead 2

Next on our list is Sega AM1 (Wow Entertainment)’s shooter The House of the Dead 2. Although acclaimed for its impeccable graphics, music, and well-crafted plot with various surprising twists and turns, the game’s bad voice over was sanctioned here and there.
Lest we forget, the game was released in 1998 when voice acting in video games was not given much thought. And it shows. If you listen to a few of Goldman’s lines, it’s almost impossible to hold back a chuckle at the sound of that jerky, robotic-sounding voice. Here’s a memento:

However, that did not prevent the game from being adapted several times and popularized on other platforms. Some of the adaptations include The Typing of the Dead, which later became an independent series; The House of the Dead III, a sequel; and even a remake The House of the Dead 2: Remake.
With so many variations on the same theme, The House of the Dead 2 leaves gamers scratching their heads. How could the voice over quality be so off-key? Was it on purpose?
One gamer states it loud and clear: “I don’t mean to make fun of The House of the Dead’s vocal cast, either. Don’t know if their deliveries were this way on purpose. I do know that, every time I felt like the gunplay, action, or gore were about to overwhelm me, one of their voices would take some pressure off.”

When a game deserves an Oscar for voice acting – Sarah’s Death in The Last of Us

The zombie thriller survival story developed by Naughty Dog counts as one of the best video games the industry has ever played… for many obvious reasons – the most important being the game’s power to move players to tears with its compelling story. And of course, that wouldn’t have been possible without the video game’s voice over which pours heaps of more emotion in the story.
The Last of Us throws you into the tormenting depths of its astounding plot right from the start, as soon as Sarah dies. Hana Hayes, giving voice to Sarah, gives a stunning performance. Troy Baker, playing Joel, Sarah’s father, also has an Oscar-worthy performance as he gives in to feelings of grief and melancholy following the loss of his daughter, artfully fusing them into his voice acting.

The perfect harmonization between the voice acting and plot development as the emotional charge peaks makes The Last of Us one of the best games of all time. Hear Sarah’s performance for yourself.

And if you’d like to find out how other of the game’s translations fair compared to the original, read The Last of Us Localization Review – the Good & the Bad for a full, through-and-through review.

So is there a secret formula for high quality voice acting? With so many games out there, it’s about time game developers raised the standard if they want their games to become blockbusters.

Creating memorability with video game voice over – how can the gaming industry improve?

The 2022 edition of GamesBeat Summit in Los Angeles emphasized the need for voice actors who engage with the game while it’s still under development.

Jennifer Hale, voice actress and summit panelist, compared game voice acting to film and television production, where actors are involved in every stage of the development, in contrast to what happens in the gaming industry.

“It was such a technically driven media for so long, but now the role of story and character is so important… It all comes back to collaboration and cooperation, not competition,” said Hale.

Involving voice actors during the story-making process is essential to creating a memorable game. This way, the actors are given ample space to supercharge their character’s interpretation with emotion and work closely with producers and voice actors to produce quality-sounding results in coordination.
But this is only one side of the story. What about localization? Don’t leave the page just yet as we discuss voice-over localization shortly.

How voice over localization fits into the picture

Voice over localization is the linchpin of your game marketing strategy, especially if you’re looking to expand beyond your domestic market. So how exactly do you do it? After all, you won’t change the storyboard every time you enter a new market. And a voice artist cannot work miracles with a poor script.
To cut down on costs, game studios sometimes choose to translate the storyboard themselves, with some doing a better job than others. In most cases, the developers will have done their research, managing to give the script a decent sound in the target language. Unfortunately, this is not always the case as sometimes, game translations result in outbursts of laughter.
Tales of Berseria, a Japanese action role-playing game developed by Bandai Namco Entertainment, makes for a prime example. While most of the game’s translation has been handled with due care, once players stray away from the main quests, something weird starts to happen… The quality shifts so drastically you’d assume the characters have stepped into a different world where language has been viciously butchered.

Disney is written literally in Chinese

This is a case in point of how localization can make or break gameplay. At least Magilou’s line achieved meme status. Joke aside, poor game localization can cost your brand dearly in the long run. Seeing your brand become the target of online banter is not something to be proud of. Quite the contrary…

Raise the standard for your game’s voice over with professional voice actors

Working with a professional video game voice over localization agency, like Pangea Global, can save you massive pain and headaches, as well as time and resources you would otherwise need to spend on market research, language and culture study, and everything else you’d need to localize your game with impact (on how to do that, check out our Game Localization Definitive Guide).
Pangea Global has a solid footprint in European, the US and Latin American markets, hiring over 600 video gaming professionals, localizers, translators, and voice artists in every market that it operates in. Ready to talk game localization and voice-over?

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