Character Creation for Video Games: Making the Most of Your Inner Demons
"I know all the orcs in Los Angeles,” I casually said to a friend over a recent weekend brunch. She stopped, looked at me and we both erupted in laughter over the fact that not only was my sentence accurate….but in my line of work, it was entirely and fantastically true. I do, indeed, know all the orcs in Los Angeles. And most of the demons. Some of the goblins. And certainly, a large smattering of super heroes and mouthless space aliens, all across the California southland. For I make video games. And I spend more time with ghosts, ghouls and grizzly soldiers than I do my own family. And I know and love each of these characters as if they ARE my own family….for they are real, grounded, and birthed from the life experiences of the actors who voiced them.
I am often asked if it is hard bringing non-human creatures to life. My answer is always the same. A resounding NO. For underneath demon goats, haggered orcs and corrupted elves…..we are still chasing base human emotions.
We are still chasing the human heartbeat behind it all. No matter the reason, the backstory or explanation…..creatures of all kinds can and do still experience joy, heartbreak, love and loss. And the only way we can bring these deep, profound emotions to life is by tapping into an actor’s most treasured and sacred asset……themselves. Their joy. Their heartbreaks. Their loves and losses. Their own personal life experiences.
Therefore, the actor brings with them the richest and most creative aspect of all…their life story.
A misnomer exists for some who want to be successful in video game voice acting. A misnomer whereby aspiring voice actors mistakenly believe that in order to be successful in the world of make believe and fantasy, all that’s required is a good voice, good texture, good resonance and the world shall be yours. Often, people overlook the soul that is underneath the sound, and the person behind the performance. Thus, I tell all my voice acting students…. I don’t cast characters or voices. I cast People. I look for actors who can tap into their stories, open up their hearts and give me their pains so that a scene with two orcs battling can, in session, transform into something much more profound.
When the actors and I dive deeper into the script and look deeper into our hearts and own life stories, the scene then becomes so much more. When opening our darkest corners to each other in the sanctity of session, the scene evolves into a moment of raw pain, whereby the younger orc accuses the older father figure orc of abandoning him as a child.
This was not said in actual words. Rather, this was said in the raw powerful emotion underneath the words the actors delivered into the lines, based upon their life struggles. One four-hour session of orcs shouting across a battlefield led to countless hours of tears from our fans as they watch the heartbreaking scene; sharing with the internet that they never thought they could feel such deep sorrow from a scene that, on the surface, seemed simply based upon retribution. By baring their souls, our actors made the scene about so much more. They moved the needle. Changed the narrative. And broke our hearts. The actors didn’t hide from their own pain. They celebrated it and gave it openly and willingly.
Thus, when approaching work of all kinds in the video game realm, your success will not be based upon creating the perfect growly voice, or the deepest timbre. Rather, it will come from your ability, as an Actor, to use the clay of your life as the rich soil from which to birth epic performances that will last in the gaming community for generations. Voice acting is simply acting. And you, as an actor, are the very best asset I could ever ask for.
By Andrea Toyias, Senior Casting & Voice Director, Blizzard Entertainment
Andrea is going to be a speaker at GET YOUR GAME ON LA 2020 on Friday 28th February in Los Angeles.
This is the ULTIMATE Video game event that is focused on promoting great VOICE ACTING in VIDEO GAMES
It's a full day event/conference all about video games featuring award-winning industry leaders from around the world. For more details see the GET YOUR GAME ON web page HERE
This article was originally written and published in The Buzz magazine, the ONLY magazine in the world dedicated to the voiceover industry. For details on how to subscribe to The Buzz Magazine go here - BUZZ