Voice acting appears in many different media formats including movies, TV series, games, radio, and commercials.
Picking the Right Actors
Game studios will commonly employ obscure actors or industry-known voice-talent to do their work. This isn't always the case, though, as a lot of high-budget games feature well known Hollywood actors. Some notable examples of this are Kiefer Sutherland, Alec Baldwin and Martin Sheen, who have all starred in recent blockbuster games.
Regardless of the person doing the job, good voice acting is vital to the game experience. The quality of voice acting can have the power to make or break a character. Imagine, for instance, if God of War's main protagonist Kratos was voiced by someone with a thin, high pitched voice. Much of the toughness and grit that Kratos projects through his speech would be lost.
Good and Bad Acting
Sometimes, voice acting is terrible. It might be because the wrong person was cast to do the voice for a specific character, or because the actor didn't show any emotion whatsoever, making a potentially dramatic scene seem boring and uninspired. Sometimes poor voice acting can be attributed to the chance that a hired actor can't be present in the recording studio, and as a result has to speak his or her lines over the phone from his or her home. It isn't shocking when dialogue in a game where the actor had to recite lines described to him over
the phone by producers lack the right feel or emotion. In other instances, banter between two or more characters in a scene may turn out badly just because the actors weren't in the same room together, or had recorded their lines at different times.
Overall, poor acting can really diminish the quality of the player's experience in an otherwise great game. It can also be the nail in the coffin for a game that already has problems in other aspects.
On the other hand, when everything works out, and the right actor is voicing the right character, while truly injecting feeling into the dialogue, the player can easily feel like a part of the game's world. Whether it's Kratos roaring as he tears some demon a new one, a funny, well-delivered joke in Monkey Island, or the dramatically eerie lines from Andrew Ryan in BioShock, great voice acting can add a whole lot to a title's story and atmosphere.
Voice Acting in Conjunction With Motion Capture Technology
The benefits of the recent proliferation of motion capture technology in the games industry extend to the field of voice acting. The development of certain games, such as Heavy Rain, or Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, includes extensive motion capture sessions in which the voice actors perform the scenes themselves, rather than having someone else do the acting. When faces are also captured, the result can be accurate, smoothly animated facial gestures, eye movement, and lip syncing. The use of this technology can lead to the creation of animated faces that move and react exactly like that of their voice actor, increasing the believability of the scenes. A good example of an advanced form of this tech is MotionScan, which was used in Team Bondi's L.A. Noire. On the other hand, poor facial capture can result in prime examples of the Uncanny Valley, where the animations just don't look right for one reason or another.
Notable Western Voice Artists (Listed in alphabetical order)
Notable Japanese Voice Artists (Listed in alphabetical order)