I read some news recently that the actors union was contemplating about going on strike in regards to voice acting work for video games. This resulted in various media coverage about the issues where video game fans weighed in their opinions on the subject. There was one comment theme that stuck out to me and that was essentially how many people felt that voice acting is a throw away feature in a video game where it’s so easy that anyone can do it. Therefore, actors should simply take a hike as there will always be someone else who can do the job for less pay.
Now to be clear, I work as an actor and so I have actual experience as to the difficulty of working in entertainment in general. At the same time, as you all know I am a huge video game fan. Generally speaking, there is always a misconception about the level of work and pay you receive. Not everyone gets the opportunity to get A-List star type of pay.
Is voice acting an unrelated factor to video games? In the past I would have definitely said yes. Nowadays I am not so sure. With so many games trying to be more cinematic and realistic it would be a very weird department not to take seriously. Can you imagine a game like Metal Gear Solid without the voice acting or games like The Last of Us? In some ways it reminds me how in the past people said the sound/music quality in a game doesn’t matter as it is all about the gameplay. That is a harder argument to throw in this day and age.
Although, I perfectly understand the argument on how it may not be a deciding factor in buying a game. The first thing that comes to my mind is the cheesy full motion video acting in Resident Evil one which most people scoffed at and simply focused on the game itself. With examples like that I suppose you could say acting in general is a non-factor for a video game. Or in games like Star Fox I often hear people complain about characters such as Slippy’s voice to the point where they preferred the gibberish back in the SNES games.
Again though, I think games nowadays benefit immensely from voice acting to the point where it is an integral part of the experience for a lot of games. Does that warrant a pay increase for actors? Maybe I am a little bias in saying yes as I know a lot of the time and investment it takes to get those opportunities usually don’t exactly add up for a lot of people once they get the work. But I suppose that’s fair to say it’s just business right? At the same time, diversity and using different talent is a bigger issue which I am surprised is not the main focus when it comes to voice acting.
The geek in me would love to have the opportunity to work on a video game as an example due to the sheer passion of it. As long as there are games that try to be cinematic and visually engaging that means there will be a need for good voice acting I feel.