Voice acting has accompanied video games since at least the late eighties and judging by the capacity of how it’s used in modern gaming like in Star Wars: The Old Republic. It’s an interesting little area of the industry that many people may breeze over—for no good measure.
I mean, professionals who influence the performances from the cast sometimes have no real experience of directing actors in the first place. This was a field where random designers or QA’s would fill in for voices cheaply and semi-efficiently.
There was a time where voice acting was laughably primitive at best (see: Resident Evil), but it seems like once Conker’s Bad Fur Day hit on Nintendo 64 there was a realization in the industry that voice acting could assist the quality of the game and make it even better. Other companies followed suit with good performers leaking in from the animation field of cinema to lend a hand in video game soundtracks—and with good measure.
Sure, there have still been clunky efforts especially when it comes to action games (Gears of War?) and RPGs (no one will forget Tidus from Final Fantasy X), but for the most part there has been an influx in recent years of excellence—especially in the aforementioned big budget audios of the Mass Effect series. This has also aided the Grand Theft Auto franchise quite commercially where prime Hollywood talent such as Ray Liotta and Samuel L. Jackson have lent their voices. Voice actors in gaming and animation now have fans and followers.
Nintendo seems to think that Link should remain silent in their trademark, The Legend of Zelda series and have extended this to Mario’s very short quips and similar games in their collective arsenal. How good would the Zelda games be if the characters would talk? Would it ruin some of the classic nature of these games? And how would it aid in the narrative of these said games.
No one would argue that voice acting isn’t the only way to get to know characters or literally voice the emotions of the characters as we’ve had stunning examples of emotion in the likes of the Final Fantasy series (pre-Final Fantasy X) and Chrono Trigger. These games proved you didn’t need a voice to a character because, like a novel, you could recreate it in your head and rely on the beats and pauses of the written dialogues on the screen.
Voice acting in video games may not be something that most gamers think about because of how commonplace it was now, but the leap towards this revolutionary audio tactic was a grand affair for the industry and something that’s key to a lot of video games and their successes (and failures). With the crazy arsenal of voices at Bioware’s disposal in Star Wars: The Old Republic, they have exceeded what voice acting is capable of—what’s next for video gaming and is this an important factor for you?