7 Tips for Video Game Voice Actors

And And One BIG Thing Missing from Most VO Auditions

Danny Scott • 3/5/2020
Written for the Voice One Verve

Last weekend I attended a conference dedicated to voice over in video games called Get Your Game On Los Angeles. Presented by the Voice Over Network, the conference was an all-day event with incredible presenters who are well-established in the video game industry, including voice actors, casting directors, and voice directors. Suffice it to say, the day was jam packed with content and impossible to unpack in a single article.

The final panel of the day featured an array of the day’s speakers who were all asked “What’s one piece of advice you’d give to aspiring voice actors?” Here are their responses:

7 Tips for Video Game Voice Actors

1. “Don’t give up!” – Andrea Toyias, Senior Casting & Voice Director at Blizzard Entertainment

Simple, yet powerful, and something we all probably need to hear from time to time. And coming from the Senior Casting Director at one of the biggest video game companies in the world, I think it’s safe to say this advice is universal and needs to be heard by everyone from the beginner to the seasoned VO veteran.

2. “Play the character honestly.” – Dave Fennoy, Actor

Dave urges us to remember that “our characters don’t have scripts.” We, the actors, get to read our lines over and over again, but each time the character says it, it must be as if for the first time. And playing a character honestly comes down to strong acting.

3. “The craft (and working on the craft) is a spiritual journey. Come back to your own power.” – Tom Keegan, Casting Director & Motion Capture Director

You should love the learning process. It is full of self-discovery and personal growth. The actors who best connect with their characters are those who have learned to connect with themselves.

4. “Let go of the sh*t you can’t control!” – JB Blanc, Actor, Voice Director

Focus instead on what you can control:

  • be on time
  • bring your director something to work with
  • play the role & be the character

Everything else is out of your hands. The performance that you bring to the table is just one part of the larger puzzle.

5. “Everything you bring is unique to you and special to you. Believe in what you have.” – Mark Estdale, Voice Director, Casting Director, Owner of OM & Vault 501

Don’t make the mistake of trying to be who you think other people want you to be. When you do that, you leave behind the one thing that sets you apart from everyone else – yourself.

6. “Celebrate. Look ahead and celebrate the opportunities you are going to get. Nobody is guaranteed anything. Celebrate every audition. Celebrate the moments.” – Neil Kaplan, Actor

In addition to letting go of what you can’t control, do yourself a favor and stop dwelling on what isn’t happening for you and shift your focus to the positive, to the little things you achieve every day. Okay, so maybe you didn’t book the part, but you got the audition! Celebrate that!!

7. “There are other actors who sound like you. But there are no actors who sound like you who also think like you, who feel like you, who emote like you, who have had the same life experiences as you. Put your alchemy together and create your own gold!” – Neil Kaplan

The perfect quote to button up this list. Just… wow.

But wait! There's More!

What’s Missing from Video Game Auditions?

Andrea Toyias also revealed the number one thing missing from auditions right now (drumroll, please)….

Acting.

Let that sink in. Acting. Storytelling. Truth. Among the hundreds of auditions she receives, less than 10% have good acting! And you’d be sorely mistaken if you think that only applies to the lead roles, she says, “because even if you’re an orc, troll, demon, or goblin, video games are about the human experience.”

Well, there you have it. Good voice acting, it turns out, requires good acting.

Super Bowl 2019 Commercial Recap

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Last month, we sent our school mailing list a “Super Bowl scavenger hunt” to aid our students in watching the year’s biggest commercials with a critical eye. We received many responses, and I wanted to share some of the biggest take-aways.

The all-time favorite commercial was the Twilight Zone promo featuring Jordan Peele. The spot was intriguing from the get-go, and the storyteller voice-over took you on a journey into the unknown.

The choices for most memorable ad were the Google translation commercial and the Kia Telluride commercial. The writing for both spots was sincere and thoughtful and the voice over matched it perfectly. The Google script featured a unique, reassuring, international voice, while the Kia commercial conveyed vulnerability as strength through the voice of a young boy. Although the deep, (often announcery) voices tended to dominate the Super Bowl ads once again, it was the raw, unique, and vulnerable spots that stood out as most memorable. It’s curious that the spots that went against the stereotypical, masculine sports-fan were the ones that stuck with us.

Otherwise, there was a lot of variety: many of the reads were warm and friendly, smoky or sensual, high energy or announcery, and there were even a handful done in character.

The biggest observation that nearly everyone spoke about was the glaringly uneven ratio of commercials voiced by men versus women. We counted 35 spots voiced by men and only 10 voiced by women. That’s right, less than one third of the voice over was performed by women. One might argue that it makes sense in an event with a predominantly male audience, however a recent Forbes article states that “in 2017, the NFL estimated roughly 45% of football fans were female, [and in 2018] women constituted about 49% of the 108 million-plus people who watched the game.” Half of the audience is women, which raises the question: if there is equal representation in the audience, why isn’t there equal representation in the voice over?

Perhaps the uniqueness and vulnerability that we saw will continue to evolve in voice over throughout the course of the year. Maybe at the next Super Bowl we’ll hear even more of what we already know: that women can sell to sports fans, that soft-spoken men can raise our spirits, and that unique voices can inspire us.

2017 Voice Arts Awards Nominees

Since 2014, The SOVAS (The Society of Voice Arts and Sciences) has hosted an awards ceremony similar to the Oscars, Emmys, etc. to acknowledge outstanding voiceover performances across a variety of media. The 4th Annual Voice Arts Awards will be held Sunday, Nov 5.

I’ve collected links to all of the nominations that I could find and also created a youtube playlist and vimeo album if you just want to click play watch them all in one go. For demo nominations I linked to the actors’ personal websites where there demos can be found. I posted the nominees for Spanish VO and for Audiobook Narration by genre, but did not look for any direct links to them.

2017 Voice Arts® Awards Nominees

Outstanding National Commercial – TV or Web, Best Voiceover

Outstanding Promo Campaign – TV or Web, Best Voiceover

Outstanding National Commercial Campaign – TV or Web, Best Voiceover

Outstanding Video Game Character, Best Voiceover

Outstanding TV Animation, Best Voiceover

Outstanding Promo Demo Reel, Best Voiceover

Outstanding Animation/Gaming Demo Reel, Best Voiceover

Outstanding Narration – TV, Digital or Film, Best Voiceover

Outstanding Local Commercial – TV or Web, Best Voiceover

Outstanding Local TV Promo, Best Voiceover

  • Mike Brang – KABC – In Show
  • Mike Brang – KVVU – More Access
  • Mike Brang – WISN – Bachelorette (couldn’t find link, this links to the Bachelor)
  • Diriki Mack – KHOU11 NEWS
  • Natalie Roers – Iron Man Iron Will

Outstanding Radio Commercial, Best Voiceover

  • Mike Brang – McDonalds
  • J. Michael Collins, Cristina Milizia – McDonald’s Workplace Hero
  • J. Michael Collins, Jas Patrick – Proper Cloth
  • Ellen Dubin – Rexall – One Walk to Conquer Cancer
  • Thembisa S. Mshaka – WNBA Go Time :30

Outstanding Radio Promo, Best Voiceover

  • Toy Holmes – Rebel
  • Christian Lanz – FOX Network “Star” Promo – Spanish
  • Diriki Mack – KHOU11 News/Drug Test
  • Diriki Mack – KHOU11 News/Background Check
  • Jeff Wilburn – Shots Fired FOX

Outstanding Movie Trailer, Best Voiceover

Outstanding Motion Picture Animation, Best Voiceover

  • Cristela Alonzo – Cars 3
  • Owen Wilson – Cars 3
  • Owen Wilson, Cristela Alonzo, Chris Cooper, Nathan Fillion, Larry the Cable Guy, Armie Hammer, Lea DeLaria, Kerry Washington, Margo Martindale, Isiah Whitlock, Jr., Bob Peterson, John Ratzenberger, Lloyd Sherr, Paul Newman, Cheech Marin, Katherine Helmond – Cars 3

Outstanding Consumer Sales Video, Best Voiceover

Outstanding E-Learning, Best Voiceover

Outstanding Commerical Demo Reel, Best Voiceover

Outstanding Narration Demo Reel, Best Voiceover

Outstanding Podcasts

Outstanding Body of Work, Voiceover

Outstanding Spoken Word or Storytelling – Best Performance

Outstanding Storytelling, Best Performance

  • Ed Asner, John Wesley Shipp, David Gregory, Maddy Burns, Phil Carroll, Bill Burrows – Powder Burns: An Original Western Audio Drama Episode 6: Psalms for a Broken Man
  • Kris Keppeler – Life With Cap’n-Putting the Boob in Boob Cruise
  • John Wesley Shipp, David Gregory, Florencia Lozano, Jeffrey C. Hawkins, Lance Roberts, Phil Carroll, David Howard Thornton, Barret Helms, Matt Locker, Maddy Burns, Bill Burrows – Powder Burns: An Original Western Audio Drama Episode 5: Some Amount of Dignity
  • Marcus Gregory Taylor – From the maxisingle “My Soul”

Outstanding Promo Demo Reel – Spanish Voiceover

  • Luis Villegas Arias
  • Salvador Camero
  • Ruben Raffo Corrales
  • Carola Parmejano
  • Sheldon Romero

Outstanding Animation Demo Reel, Best Spanish Voiceover

  • Antonio Fornaris
  • Valentina Latyna
  • Vicky Tessio

Outstanding Commercial or Promo Demo Reel, Best Spanish Voiceover

  • Angely Baez
  • Simone Fojgiel
  • Alfonso Lugo
  • Gabriel Saint-Genez
  • Adriana Serna

Outstanding Theatrical Movie Trailer – Best Spanish Voiceover

  • Diego Osorio “How To Be A Latin Lover” Splash TV
  • Diego Osorio Applebee’s Los Nuevos Hanhelds
  • Fabián Toro Discovery Theatre HD

Outstanding Narration Demo Reel, Best Spanish voiceover

  • Antonio D. Espejo
  • Antonio Fornaris
  • Nicky Mondellini
  • Juana Plata

Outstanding TV or Radio Commercial – Best Spanish Voiceover

  • Ruben Raffo Corrales Caja Piura
  • Ruben Raffo Corrales ONP
  • Christian Lanz Toyota “Santa” TV Commercial
  • Alfonso Lugo Mercedes Benz Clase E
  • Paola Poucel Aveeno Baby “Primer Momento”

Outstanding TV Promos – Best Spanish Voiceove

  • Diego Osorio FOX Deportes – NASCAR “We don’t Play”
  • Jonathan Ramirez NatGeo Mundo – Savaged Kingdom
  • Roberto Sanchez This Is Us Spanish Promo / NBC
  • Fabian Toro Dirty Jobs – Discovery Civilization

Outstanding Spoken Word or Storytelling – Best Spanish Performance

  • Antonio D. Espejo Witness of Martians
  • Jonathan Ramirez Gatorade – Counter Attack
  • Fabián Toro Atún, rey de los mares

Audiobook Narration – Biography, Best Voiceover

  • Alyssa Bresnahan A Portrait of Joan: An Autobiography
  • Ana Clements Did you hear me crying?
  • James Anderson Foster Fur Volk and Fuhrer: The Memoir of a Veteran of the 1st SS Panzer Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler
  • January LaVoy Bette & Joan: The Divine Feud
  • Nicholas Guy Smith Notes on Blindness: A Journey Through the Dark

Audiobook Narration – Science Fiction, Best Voiceover

  • MacLeod Andrews A Faded Star: A Faded Star, Book 1
  • R.C. Bray and Julia Whelan Solitude: Dimension Space, Book 1
  • John Malone Dredging Up Memories
  • Tom Taylorson Alien: Covenant
  • Adam Verner Mind War

Audiobook Narration – Mystery, Best Voiceover

  • Kathleen Early The Kept Woman
  • Lisa Flanagan The Unseen World
  • James Anderson Foster The Shadow of the Lions
  • John Arthur Long The Mean
  • Teri Schnaubelt The Broken Brooch

Audiobook Narration – Author Performance, Best Voiceover

  • Marcia Clark Without a Doubt
  • Jamie Lee Weddiculous: An Unfiltered Guide to Being a Bride
  • John Arthur Long The Mean
  • Neil deGrasse Tyson Astrophysics for People in a Hurry
  • Joe Zieja Mechanical Failure

Audiobook Narration – Crime & Thriller, Best Voiceover

  • Scott Brick Dead City, Book 1
  • Marcia Clark Without a Doubt
  • Dion Graham The Force
  • Mikael Naramore Who Killed JonBenet Ramsey?
  • Sean Runnette Breeds, Book 1

Audiobook Narration – Business or Education, Best Voiceover

  • Pamela Almand Cyber Crisis: It’s Personal Now
  • Drew Birdseye Idea to Execution: How to Optimize, Automate, and Outsource Everything in Your Business
  • James Anderson Foster The Broken Ladder: How Inequality Affects the Way We Think, Live, and Die
  • Satauna Howery Index Funds and ETFs: What They Are and How to Make Them Work for You
  • Tom Taylorson The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man

Audiobook Narration – Children’s Pre-School (Infant to 12), Best Voiceover

  • Jenna Augen Beauty and the Beast
  • Lisa Flanagan WALL-E
  • Tucker Meek, Gabe Eggerling, Lisa Biggs, Talon Beeson, Holly Franklin, Finley Smith Wonder
  • Jay Preston The Lorax
  • Adam Verner The Terrible Two Get Worse

Audiobook Narration – Teens, Best Voiceover

  • MacLeod Andrews Ice Country: The Country Saga, Book 2
  • Caitlin Davies, Tristan Morris, MacLeod Andrews, and Chris Patton Legion
  • Khristine Hvam Fire Country: The Country Saga, Book 1
  • P.J. Ochlan Night’s Gift
  • Adam Verner York: The Shadow Cipher

Audiobook Narration – Classics, Best Voiceover

  • Pearl Hewitt The Secret Garden
  • John Lee The Red Sphinx
  • Sneha Mathan The God of Small Things
  • Catherine O’Brien Pride and Prejudice

Audiobook Narration – Fiction, Best Voiceover

  • Rory Barnett Honour
  • R.C. Bray 58 Minutes (Basis for the Film Die Hard 2)
  • Scott Brick The Last Tribe
  • James Anderson Foster The Shadow of the Lions

Audiobook Narration – Fantasy, Best Voiceover

  • R.C. Bray Lost Gods
  • Jeffrey Kafer Villains Rule
  • P.J. Ochlan Night’s Gift
  • Tim Gerard Reynolds The Red Sea: The Cycle of Galand, Book 1
  • Teri Schnaubelt The Three Brooches
  • Simon Vance The Wolf of the North, Book 1

Audiobook Narration – History, Best Voiceover

  • Brian Blessed The Cat of Bubastes
  • Brian Blessed In the Reign of Terror
  • Christopher M. Finan, Malcolm Hillgartner Drunks: An American History
  • Malcolm Hillgartner Dunkirk: The Complete Story of the First Step in the Defeat of Hitler
  • Simon Vance A Marriage of Inconvenience: The Persecution of Ruth and Seretse Khama

Audiobook Narration – Humor, Best Voiceover

  • Joe Barrett A Really Big Lunch
  • Abby Elvidge, David Wilcock Whatever Happened To Prince Charming?
  • Joe Zieja Mechanical Failure

Audiobook Narration – Inspirational/Faith-Based Fiction, Best Voiceover

  • Brian Blessed The Cat of Bubastes
  • Brian Blessed In the Reign of Terror
  • Matilda Novak Just Look Up
  • Gene Rowley Sapphire Ice
  • Adam Verner Long Way Gone

Audiobook Narration – Non-Fiction, Best Voiceover

  • January LaVoy Bette & Joan: The Divine Feud
  • Sean Pratt The Death of Expertise
  • Tim Campbell Bedlam’s Door
  • Neil deGrasse Tyson Astrophysics for People in a Hurry
  • Simon Vance What Is Populism?

Audiobook Narration – Metaphysical, Best Voiceover

  • Will Damron Satan’s Harvest
  • Todd Haberkorn Ghost Hunters: True Stories from the World’s Most Famous Demonologists
  • Todd Haberkorn The Haunted: One Family’s Nightmare
  • Ann M. Richardson Enfolded in God’s Arms
  • Sean Runnette Shadows: Nightlord, Book 2

Audiobook Narration – Self Help, Health & Fitness Best Voiceover

  • Drew Birdseye The Art of Less Doing: One Entrepreneur’s Formula to a Beautiful Life
  • Zak George Zak George’s Dog Training Revolution
  • Carla Mercer-Meyer The Buddha and the Borderline: My Recovery from Borderline Personality…
  • Allyson Ryan Becoming Brilliant: What Science Tells us About Raising Successful Children
  • Dan Woren Undoctored

Audiobook Narration – Romance, Best Voiceover

  • Andi Arndt, Zachary Webber Take Me Back
  • Ava Erickson, Rob Shapiro Mr. Perfect: The Mister Series, Book 1
  • Ava Erickson, Sebastian York, Joe Arden Candy Boys: Hot Candy, Book 1
  • Zachary Webber, Andi Arndt The Hot One
  • Steve West Lord of the Privateers

Audiobook Narration – Short Story Anthology, Best Voiceover

  • R.C. Bray Diary of an Asscan: The Martian, Prequel
  • Scott Brick Empty Nest (Dead City Short)
  • Matt Godfrey Nightmares and Geezenstacks
  • Kirby Heyborne, Ray Chase, Donald Corren, Grover Gardner, and Cassandra Campbell Edgar Allan Poe: The Complete Audio Collection, Vol. 1
  • Elizabeth Wiley, William Dufris, Scott Brick, Peter Berkrot, R.C. Bray, Anna Parker-Naples, Eric Martin, Jeffrey Kafer, Sean Runnette, Caitlin Davies, Mike Ortego, Matt Godfrey Offbeat: Uncollected Stories

Outstanding Casting – Audiobook

  • Jesse Bickford and Bryan Barney Christodora
  • Philip Glassborow The Cat of Bubastes
  • Philip Glassborow In the Reign of Terror
  • Donna McKenna Powder Burns: An Original Western Audio Drama

Audio Engineering

  • Todd Busteed and Phil Horne In the Reign of Terror
  • Rob Jorgensen and Mark Drury The Cat of Bubastes
  • Fred Oliveira Mónica y sus amigos – Abducidos

Outstanding Production – Audiobook

  • Bill Heid The Cat of Bubastes
  • Bill Heid In the Reign of Terror
  • Bill Rauch, Blackstone Publishing and The Oregon Shakespeare Festival RIchard II by William Shakespeare
  • David Zindel Bette & Joan: The Divine Feud
  • David Zindel Lucy and Desi: The Legendary Love Story of Television’s Most Famous Couple

Radio Imaging – Demo Reel – Best Voiceover

  • David Brower
  • Cam Cornelius
  • Bob Glavin
  • David Kaye
  • Bev Standing

Radio Imaging – Demo Reel – Best Production

  • Allan Blackwell David Brower Radio Imaging
  • J. Michael Collins Bob Glavin Radio Imaging Demo
  • J. Michael Collins Kabir Singh Radio Imaging Demo
  • Eric Romanowski Steve Stone – Sports Radio Imaging Demo
  • Eric Romanowski Jen Sweeney – Top 40 Radio Imaging Demo

Outstanding Casting

  • Scott Cawthon Five Nights at Freddy’s: Sister Location
  • Sheylla Goncalves Mónica y sus amigos
  • Ivy Isenberg Jeff & Some Aliens – Jeff & Some Colonists
  • Kevin Reher, C.S.A., Natalie Lyon, C.S.A. Cars 3