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Job Description of Voice Actors in Video Games

by Liza Hollis

Whether it’s a mischievous old elf sending you out on an ominous mission, a wise animal offering guidance as you explore a new world, or the booming menace of a “Game Over” that you hear after failing to defeat a particularly treacherous boss, the characters you meet inside a video game add depth and excitement to your gameplay. And the professional actors who provide the voices for these characters are what bring the game to life.

Responsibilities

When someone plays a video game, the player is looking to immerse herself in the world of the game. Voice actors are responsible for communicating necessary information to the player and contributing to the overall tone of the video game experience.

Skills Needed

To succeed in the video game voice-acting industry, certain skills or personality traits will get you far. It helps to be competitive. There is a finite amount of work and a large number of applicants; not everyone can handle the ups and downs of the work. The right applicant should be resourceful enough to find work in between projects and secure leads for future endeavors. It's important to note that voice acting is not about sounding funny, or being able to make weird or cute sounds. It's about using artistic range to bring the characters to life with voice. A sincere passion as well as acting techniques are essential.

Qualifications

According to Education Portal, you don’t always need formal training to become a voice actor. However, unless you are well-connected and network often, it can be a challenge. Some professional voice actors have bachelor's degrees in production. To increase your visibility in the industry, it’s a smart idea to enroll in voice-acting lessons. Of course, living in areas where this work is more available, such as Southern California, New York, and Vancouver is the best way to find relevant coursework. Creating a demo reel is essential when applying for positions. Remember, voice actors are actors first. It is a good idea to take acting lessons to hone your craft.

Working Conditions

If you are looking for a traditional nine-to-five gig, video game voice-acting is probably not for you. But if you want a job with flexible scheduling, it could be a great fit. That said, you will need to be available when the work demands. You’ll spend most of your work hours in recording studios, adding voices to existing video game footage. It could mean just a few hours in a soundproof booth, or it might mean many long nights if a production deadline is fast approaching. Flexibility is essential.

Salary

The annual salary of a voice actor can range widely depending on location and project scope. Because voice actors are rarely hired long-term, but rather per project, annual salary can vary from year to year. However, the average salary is between $42,000 and $50,000 per year, but it could mean much more or less depending on the company or stability of the position. If you become a member of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), you are guaranteed a minimum wage per hour on any project. In many large cities, such as Los Angeles, video game actors are required to be members of SAG for most video game production companies.

Considerations

Voice acting is a definite need within the video game industry, but it can be a difficult profession to break into on your own, because the same voice actors are hired for many short-term projects. Record a demo and set up an online presence. Going to networking events and industry seminars are strategic ways to find new leads for work, meet fellow actors, and hone your craft.

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