What We Learned From The Best Video Game Voice Acting Performances

High quality, effective voice acting can transform any business or artistic project by giving it a voice that viewers can readily attach and connect to on a deeper level.

The best way we can see this in action is through how video games have taken advantage of voice-over studios and helped bring interactive creative projects up to a whole other level, can create iconic moments, and in some cases even sell the games effectively by themselves.

Here are some of the best and most iconic moments of voice acting in videos games, and how we can use voice acting as an effective selling aid.


I Chose Rapture

The 2007 game Bioshock may have one of the most effective introductions of any video game, almost entirely the result of Armin Shimerman’s exceptional initial monologue as the enigmatic Andrew Ryan.

The game, which is set in the 1960s in the desolate ruins of a 1940s objectivist utopia, starts with the player, a plane crash survivor, swimming to a distant lighthouse, and finding inside a bathysphere to take the player underwater.

Whilst heading to the ocean floor, an old voice over plays that sets the tone for the entire game and establishes the theme of rampant greed and individualism incredibly effectively, aided by Shimerman’s commanding and convincing performance.

That it takes until you see the desolate wastes of Rapture itself to realise he is wrong in his assertion is a credit to how utterly convicted the performance is.

This highlights how important it is in a voice-over to provide authority and belief, with many of the most effective marketing campaigns conveying both.


Arkham’s Finest

In terms of voice performance, the Joker is among the most fascinating characters to hear in all of fiction, with different interpretations of the characters wildly swinging from cartoonishly wacky (Cesar Romero) to understated and deeply sinister (Heath Ledger).

One of the best performances, and one that managed to outlast pretty much every other, was Mark Hamill’s performance in both animated and video game form.

What is amazing about Hamill’s performance, beyond the fact that before this role he was most famous as the soft-spoken hero Luke Skywalker, is the level of effort he goes to in his voice performance.

Footage of Hamill’s performances as the Joker shows how he contorts and twists his body, and this level of commitment made scenes with the villainous character some of the most iconic in the franchise’s exceptionally long history.

Hamill would win a video game BAFTA in 2011 for how his performance elevated the already very good Batman: Arkham City into one of the greatest games of its era.


The Definition Of Insanity

Far Cry 3 is a game that could have been relatively forgettable and generic, much like Far Cry 2 had been, were it not for a performance so striking and effective that it transformed the project entirely.

The villain of the game, Vaas, was initially set to be a huge intimidating figure, until Michael Mando auditioned for the role, and was so effective that they built the character around him.

Vaas only appeared briefly through the first half of the game, but each interaction was tense and volatile, most effectively seen with the “definition of insanity” speech, an interaction where Vaas calmly discussed the quote misattributed to Einstein before screaming at other people doing the same.

What this scene teaches is that producers must be willing to be flexible and willing to change elements to fit an effective performance. Mando’s depiction of Vaas effectively sold Far Cry 3 and it turned a flagging series into a major success.

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