The modern video game has evolved to far more than mere children’s toys, with releases now being multimillion-dollar projects that encompass engaging and emotional storytelling with complex characters that have become closer to interactive feature films than just a game.
However, a debate has been sparked by an article on The Gamer about the increase in attaching famous Hollywood stars to games, and whether it adds to the experience of gaming, or if the industry should make better use of the incredible voice talent have become stars in their own right.
In the last few years, The Walking Dead’s Norman Reedus headlined Death Stranding, along with Mads Mikkelsen, Lea Seydoux, Margaret Qualley, and even Lindsay Wagner, while last year’s most anticipated release, Cyberpunk 2077 heavily featured Keanu Reeves, and Until Dawn starred Rami Malek.
While such a roster of names will undoubtedly make headlines and draw people to the games, and the unique opportunities offered by such rules will attract more talent, video game-specialised actors have also given standout performances, of course, which aren’t at all overshadowed by Hollywood talent stepping into the gaming industry.
Melina Juergens as Senua in Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, Charlotte McBurney as Amicia in A Plague Tale: Innocence, and Melissa Hutchison as Clementine in Telltale’s The Walking Dead, for example, have all performed unique and compelling characters in the same timeframe as the aforementioned Hollywood actors.
Cory Balog, who was the creative director of God Of War responded to The Gamer article on Twitter saying that ‘good casting is good casting’, and that heavyweight Hollywood names should not be cast purely for the sake of it, and that it should be about picking the right person for the role.
Creating a character is a personal experience for the writer or director of any piece of media, and it makes sense that they should pick the talent that they believe will make the part unique and special, regardless of their career origin.
Video games also have the position to be able to give roles to non-actors, such as musicians, to be able to make use of the unique talents they can offer. Death Stranding also starred talk show host Conan O’Brien, Japanese singer Daichi Miura, and film directors Jordan Vogt-Roberts, Edgar Wright, Nicolas Winding Refn, and a motion-captured Guillermo del Toro.
Many of the famous actors who have lent their voice talent to video games have provided incredible performances have had vast experiences in providing voice-overs to games and animations, such as Mark Hamill, Charles Dance, Kristen Bell, proving that they are more than capable of expanding their skills beyond traditional acting roles.
Any given video game character’s portrayal is of utmost importance to creating a lifelike person that players can get attached to and understand. Whether the actor is a big-name talent or a first-time performer doesn’t matter.
The gaming industry will continue to flourish, but seeing Hollywood actors among video game casts should not decrease the value and importance of voice actors that aren’t as famous.
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