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How to Hire Video Game Voice Actors - Gamer catches ps4 controller
How to Hire Video Game Voice Actors - Gamer catches ps4 controller
Alex Mcomie 107x107
Feb 1, 2024

Video Game Voice Overs: How to Hire Video Game Voice Actors?

Video games are a relatively new field for voice acting, but they already make up a substantial portion of the market.

In fact, 2023 consumer video game spending was over $57 billion in the US alone.

The development of more realistic games with complex stories has led to demand for more video game voice actors.

In this article, we’ll cover the history of video games and the rise of video game voice acting in the last twenty years or so.

We’ll also take a look at the current state of the industry and where it could go from here.

Finally, we’ll cover everything you need to know about hiring a professional voice actor for your own game.


When Did Video Game Voice Acting Start?

How to Hire Video Game Voice Actors - vintage gaming consoles

Video games have been around for longer than many people assume.

What counts as the “first video game” is a matter of judgement.

British professor A.S. Douglas developed a digital version of tic-tac-toe in 1952, but the first arcades and home video games didn’t pop up until the 1970s.

Pong is often considered the first video game, but most early games had no use for voice acting.

Even then, most early games weren’t complex enough to require voice acting.

The demand for skilled actors started to grow as video games came closer to providing realistic experiences.

The biggest change was the expansion of three-dimensional gaming in the 1990s.

Onscreen characters began to look like real people, and video games started offering a more cinematic narrative with relatable characters and detailed stories.

The gaming industry has experienced relatively sustained growth since then, and voice acting has become even more accessible to small development teams.

As games became more popular, developers started hiring famous actors such as Liam Neeson (Fallout 3), Keanu Reeves (Cyberpunk 2077), and Samuel L. Jackson (Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas).

A few, including 2019’s Death Stranding, even utilize motion capture to create likenesses of real actors.

Norman Reedus, Mads Mikkelson, and other well-known actors appeared in Death Stranding through motion capture.

With video games using more voice talent than ever, individual games can now include thousands of voiced lines.

Released in 2015, The Elder Scrolls Online contains an estimated 150,000 voiced lines from 77 different actors.


What Do Video Game Voice Actors Do?

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Different video games have different kinds of voice acting.

Some development teams prioritize voice overs for certain important characters or sections of dialogue while communicating other information through text.

Others feature full voice acting for all characters — it ultimately comes down to your budget and creative vision.

An immersive video game experience depends on the suspension of disbelief, and voice actors play a crucial role in creating an engaging atmosphere.

In other words, voice actors need to give the player the impression of existing in a unique world rather than simply playing a game.

Some development teams focus on talent while cutting voice acting budgets by having actors cover multiple roles.

While The Elder Scrolls Online has 77 voice actors, there are far more than 77 unique characters.

Many characters act as generic vendors or townspeople, mostly there for world-building rather than contributing a developed personality.

In these contexts, it may be enough for a voice actor to record a few simple lines to make them believable.

When one actor is responsible for several characters, developers usually try to make sure each in-game character is kept away from the others.

If an actor portrays a blacksmith in one town, they should avoid recording lines for any other character in that town.

Separating characters in-game is the easiest way to maintain immersion with a limited number of voice actors.

On the other hand, major characters in big-budget video games often go through the same kinds of character development seen in movies and TV shows.

Games can be dozens of hours long, so the voice actors need a distinct, memorable tone that fits the style of the game and matches the character they’re playing.

Some games, such as Divinity: Original Sin II and Disco Elysium, rely on narrators to add life to the story and keep the player engaged.

Narrating a video game is more like recording an audiobook than portraying a character in a movie or TV show.


What Skills Do Video Game Voice Artists Need?

How to Hire Video Game Voice Actors voice actor recording in studio

Some skills transfer between conventional acting and voice acting, but there are also some critical differences.


It takes time to adjust to the experience of recording lines in a studio environment.

Note that some video game recording sessions take place individually, leaving the actor without much context or continuity for their performance.

This is very different from live action content where the actors physically act out the scene.

If you’re not used to it, repeatedly reading out the same lines on your own can become tiring and monotonous.

Top voice actors sound just as convincing on the 100th take as they did on the 1st.

Cold Reading

As a voice actor, you may not have much time to read through a script before recording it.

Cold reading, or performing a script while reading it for the first time, is a critical skill for any voice actor.

In some cases, voice actors may be presented with lines out of order or out of their natural relation to other lines from the scene.

Video game voice artists need to be able to read the script, understand their role, come up with a style, and successfully perform that style — often all in the same session.

Physical and Mental Fitness

The human voice is surprisingly frail, particularly for voice actors who make a living through speaking.

Voice acting is just like any other physical activity.

To strengthen and maintain their voices, actors need to warm up before sessions, minimize straining sounds like screams and whispers, and get enough rest both between takes and between acting jobs.

Just like conventional actors, voice actors can have trouble performing if they’re dealing with stress or other mental or emotional challenges.

Self-care is critical for delivering strong performances under pressure and maintaining a good work-life balance.

It’s important to recognize the role of mental health in professional performance, both in voice acting and in other fields.

Vocal Range

Vocal talent is critical for all forms of acting, but it’s particularly important for video game voice overs.

After all, the voice is the only thing a voice actor can contribute to a character in a video game.

If you’re used to conventional performing, it may feel odd to play a character in a recording studio.

It takes imagination, attention to detail, and a distinctive voice to convincingly portray a character through sound alone.

Like any other form of acting, video game voice acting requires a unique set of skills that don’t always transfer from other areas.

Voice actors can have trouble transitioning to live-action, and the same is often true in the opposite direction.

Technical Skills

Voice actors were once expected to audition in-person, but most acting jobs are now posted and filled online.

On one hand, this makes auditions more accessible to people living outside of major cities.

On the other, it also introduces a new challenge.

Since you won’t be auditioning in a professional studio, you’ll need to create a professional-quality recording space in your home or office.

This requires soundproofing, acoustic treatment, and a fair amount of equipment.

You’ll also be responsible for sound editing — turning raw recording files into audition-ready samples.

Sound processing techniques like compression, EQ, and De-essing are crucial for a well-balanced recording.

Even if you have the most beautiful voice in the world, you may be passed over if your recording doesn’t sound professional.

Hiring Video Game Voice Actors

How to Hire Video Game Voice Actors - video gamer

If you’re looking for voice actors for your own game, the important thing is to find someone who matches your vision.

This is particularly relevant for protagonists and other critical characters who play major roles in the game.

Some voice actors work primarily on video games, while others take different kinds of projects as they come.

As mentioned earlier, we recommend working with professional video game voice actors in order to achieve the best results.

Motion capture can be an incredibly effective way to make video game characters appear more realistic.

As you can see in the video below, actors in The Last of Us performed scenes through motion capture along with recording their voices.

Of course, motion capture actors will need to do several more things than conventional voice actors:

  • Match the body type of the in-game character
  • Physically act scenes while wearing equipment for motion capture
  • Perform stunts and other physically demanding tasks (portraying a fight, for example)

On the other hand, voice actors play a very different role in Disco Elysium.

The game is story-driven with very little action, putting significant pressure on voice actors to help create characters with unique personalities.

In fact, the Disco Elysium script contains more than a million words.

As a straight-laced counterpart to the player’s character, Kim Kitsuragi keeps players on track in the game, interacts with other in-game characters, and advances the narrative.

His calm, thoughtful demeanor matches the voice actor’s tone and fits the game perfectly.

In other words, there’s no “best” voice actor — the right actor for a given project depends on the required skills.

Kim Kitsuragi would have been out of place in The Last of Us, and the characters from that game wouldn’t have fit in Disco Elysium.

Effective casting involves finding an actor who fits the role you have in mind.

These are just a few questions to consider when looking for video game voice actors:

  • Does the actor have experience with similar games?
  • Does their style match the tone of the game and the character they’ll be playing?
  • Do they fit the project’s budget?

You can also get a sense of a voice artist’s capabilities by listening to their demo reel.

Demo reels are designed to showcase the speaker’s voice talent and demonstrate their flexibility in different roles or styles.

If they sound like a potential match, reach out and ask them to audition using your script.

This will help you understand how they would fit into your unique project.

It’s almost always worth comparing a few different options before committing to a particular actor.


There are many different approaches for localizing games for different countries or regions.

The most straightforward option is to simply translate the script and onscreen text and add subtitles for dialogue.

This is the way that most movies are localized for international audiences, but it may not be enough for video games.

Live-action movie characters are played by real actors, so it’s awkward to replace their voices with a voice over in another language.

In movies, this approach leads to incorrect lip syncing and a lack of immersion.

Video game visuals are all digital, so it often makes more sense to re-record voice lines for different languages.

Localization goes beyond translation to make a game more suitable for the target market.

Rather than just translating the lines into English, a developer might want to create different localizations for American and British audiences.

Similarly, Spanish-language content may need to be localized for both Latin American and Spanish dialects.

This step isn’t always necessary, but it’s worth the investment if it leads to additional sales.

Your approach to localization will ultimately depend on your budget and how much you want to invest in different versions of your game.

Casting multiple sets of voiceover artists and recording their voice work for every target language can be an expensive and time-consuming process.

Still, it’s the best way to generate interest and make your game more appealing to an international audience.


Major Trends in Video Game Voice Acting

How to Hire Video Game Voice Actors - Gamer wearing VR headset

The introduction of video games to the world of voice acting caused a major shift, but video game voice acting is itself changing every year.

This is particularly true as video games grow more popular in new countries.

Video games have often been developed in English and exported in that language worldwide, but there’s also a growing demand for voice actors in other languages.


Localization is a rapidly expanding field for developers and publishers that want to find an audience in new markets.

Of course, localization is also involved in bringing games from other languages to an English audience.

Another important development is the growth of demand for female and minority voice actors.

While men still make up a majority of gamers in the United States, more games in recent years have started focusing on female protagonists and major characters.

Ashly Burch, one of the most well-known female voice actors in video games, has appeared in popular anime like Steins; Gate and Attack on Titan, as well as a number of games including Horizon Zero Dawn, Life Is Strange, and The Outer Worlds.

Mobile and Cloud Gaming

Both consumers and developers are responding to new technologies and new ways of playing.

Mobile gaming, for example, is projected to generate nearly $100 billion in global revenue in 2024.

This expands the audience and leads to new types of games, including those that are free to play and earn money through micro-transactions.

Similarly, cloud gaming enables users to stream games to their devices rather than processing them locally.

While Google Stadia didn’t live up to expectations, it’s only a matter of time before cloud gaming takes on a larger share of the market.

Conventional games aren’t going away, but cloud gaming is expected to grow more than 4X from 2022 to 2027.

Virtual Reality

Virtual reality gives gamers the impression of existing in a 3D world, offering 360 degrees of interactivity and far more immersion than conventional gaming.

VR is still a relatively new field, so it will take time for the technology to be perfected.

As with any other developing technology, there is already a positive feedback loop driving VR growth.

More audience interest leads to more investment from developers and publishers, who then attract even more consumers with their new games.

At this point, most VR games are simply recreations of existing games in a VR space.

As the market grows, developers will have more opportunities to explore unique experiences that are only possible in virtual reality.

The Apple Vision Pro is an exciting sign of where the gaming industry is going.

Just as realistic 3D games introduced new opportunities for voice actors, VR and AR will have a major impact on the future of games.

Nobody can say where the industry will go from here, but video game voice actors will continue to play a crucial role.

We’re excited to see how creators, publishers, tech developers, and gamers combine to shape the future of gaming.


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