How to Become a Video Game Voice Actor
Sarah Stockton is an Outreach Coordinator for Voices.com, a site connects businesses with professional voice talents. She enjoys helping potential voice talent find their start in the voice industry.
The evolution of video games has taken them from 8-bit, straight white lines on a black screen to lush, three-dimensional images that mimic reality. At the same time, they’ve progressed from simplistic goal-reaching games to complex role-playing games full of characters complete with personalities and dialogue. That change opened up a new field for voice actors, and it only continues to expand. Here’s how to get in on the action.
Voice Acting is Still Acting
The first and most important thing to realize is that voice acting—whether it’s for video games, commercials, or any other voice-over work—is much more than a simple audio recording of someone reading lines off a page. It truly is acting. There’s inflection, emotion, reaction, and at times, just sound effects such as when a video game character is running or fighting. Before embarking on a career as a voice actor, be sure you’re ready for the acting demands.
Do You Have the Right Kind of Voice?
Along with being able to act solely through your voice, how does your voice sound? Be honest. Not everyone has the right kind of voice for video games or other voice-overs. Can you make your voice sound friendly one minute and harsh the next? Can you perform with any foreign accents? Most video game characters don’t require silly voices the way cartoon characters do, so they need to sound human and believable, regardless of the situation the video game character finds himself—or herself—in.
Make a Demo
Just as computers have helped video games evolve, they’ve also leveled the playing field somewhat for voice actors. You don’t necessarily have to get hired by a voice-over company with a recording studio. With the right equipment, you can create a recording studio at your desk. No, the quality won’t be as good as a professional studio, but it can be enough to make a demo to get your talent noticed.
Agent or no Agent?
Many of the in-demand voice actors have agents the same way traditional actors do. But make not mistake, this is not an easy business to break into. Voice acting is a specialized skill, and because a voice-over job can be completed in a short amount of time, one voice actor can take on many jobs over the course of a year, leaving little room for competition. An agent can help you break into the business, if you find one confident in your abilities who’s willing to take you on. Or, if you can’t find one or just prefer to remain independent, you can upload your demo to Web sites made specifically for finding voice-over work.
Most video game voice actors do much more than just provide voice-overs for games. They also do commercials, or perform audio books. You may have your heart set on being a video game voice actor because of your love of video games, but if you truly want to be a voice actor, keep your options open. Take on other voice jobs to build a portfolio, the same way a freelance writer may build a portfolio with various articles before landing a job as a full-time columnist. You can also learn a lot about voice acting by taking on smaller jobs before tackling a game script. The second version of the popular video game Mass Effect had approximately 370,000 words of dialogue. By comparison, War and Peace has about 500,000.
Apply For Jobs
If, after all of this, you’re finally ready to land a voice-over job, the Internet is the first place to look. You’ll find voice acting jobs on all kinds of online job boards. The companies that actually produce video games rarely record the dialogue themselves, and instead contract voice-over companies, so you probably won’t have much luck with sending a demo right to the video game company.
Like any other job, voice acting for video games takes hard work, persistence, and skill. Stick with it, and you may be able to build a lucrative career through your voice. And your mom said all those hours you spent playing video games wouldn’t amount to anything.