Voice acting has become a major part of modern games and that got me thinking: How do you become a video game voice actor?
I had a look for articles and books on the subject, but didn’t find a lot of info. So, I decided to do a little investigating and share my findings with you…
To become a video game voice actor you should:
- Take acting lessons, complete courses and read books
- Practice in front of the mirror
- Practice different voices
- Get a good microphone
- Practice even more
- Build a portfolio for yourself
- Get on freelancing websites
- Build a presence for yourself so people know you’re there
Ok, it’s time to jump right in and take a look at how you too can become a video game voice actor.
You should take acting classes, complete courses, and read books
Before you start spending money on expensive voice recording equipment you need to make sure that voice acting is really for you. Completing voice acting classes, courses, and reading books on voice acting are must do’s because they’ll reveal whether you really like voice work or not.
You’ll either love voice acting or hate it by the end of this process – it’s like marmite!
Why are voice acting classes and courses important?
· Classes will help you develop your voice acting talent.
· You could achieve a qualification.
· You can gage a reaction from others and get feedback.
· You see what aspects of voice acting you like/dislike.
· You can see others perform and you can learn from them.
How many voice acting classes or courses you need depends on your commitment to learning, and to how much you’re willing to spend.
I recommend at least 1 voice acting class a week to start off, but you can increase this amount with time.
You can do a mixture of learning to start you off, some in-class classes and some online courses. This would be a good way of mixing things up and learning different perspectives on voice acting.
Don’t forget you can also learn through Youtube.
If you fancy taking another route, you could always buy some books on voice acting and check out what they have to say.
A great place to start is with ‘Voice Acting For Dummies’ by David Ciccarelli and Stephanie Ciccarelli. This book will give you a general overview of the career, and it’s a guaranteed gentle read.
On the other hand, you could practice reading 3 or 4 books out loud to improve your vocal abilities.
For example: Dr.Seuss, The Hobbit, or even some poetry – as a challenge.
Reading books is good because you’ll be practising saying sounds and words that you’re not familiar with. Plus, you can try to imitate the voices of the characters you’re reading about.
Go and try putting on Sir Ian McKellan’s Gandalf voice!
“One of the things that I’m realizing is that in voice-over work, you have to actually do more work with your facial muscles and your mouth. You have to kind of exaggerate your pronunciation a little bit more, whereas with live action, you can get away with mumbling sometimes.”Mark Valley
You’ll need to buy some equipment
When I say ‘equipment’ I don’t mean a fully-functioning recording studio, with state of the art mics etc…I mean you need basic equipment to give voice acting a go.
Before you start worrying about costs, I’m going to cut in and say, you don’t need a lot of money to get started.
You can use your phone to start practising initially.
Here is a list of what you’ll need in time to start your professional video game voice-over career:
· A quiet space to record yourself in
· A recording device like a phone or computer
· A recording software like Garageband or Audacity
· A good mic like the ‘Blue Yeti Microphone’
Not strictly something you need to worry about early on, but you will need to think about buying soundproofing equipment too.
Soundproofing is one of the most important things that you have to consider when building a home studio.
Soundproofing is when you block noises going in/out of a room.
Here are some ideas of how to cheaply soundproof a room in your home:
1) Buy thick blankets or curtains and hang them up over the door and walls
2) Get a door sweep
3) Collect egg cartons and stick them to your walls – Yes, I’m being serious! They’re great sound insulators
As you move forward in the video game voice-over field you can upgrade your equipment!
Practice makes perfect in the voice acting world
While classes and courses will help you learn the basics, the only way to master your voice acting is by practising.
Practising sounds like a lot of work, and it is! But that’s the only way you’ll be any good at voice-over work.
Voice acting isn’t just about speaking into a mic and recording yourself. Voice acting means that you’ll have to change your voice around. You’ll be changing accents, tones, tempos, languages, to name a few variations.
The only way you’ll successfully master this is by practising it.
But if that doesn’t convince you, go and ask a top world-class football striker what he spends his day doing. I guarantee he will come back and tell you that he practices 1 kick over and over and over until it’s perfect!
Why does the striker do this? Repeating actions over and over again solidifies the ideas and principles in your brain, and makes you feel more confident.
“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.”Bruce Lee
It’s exactly the same for video game voice work – to be the best you must persevere and practice.
On that note, how should you practice?
- You should practice by reading books and novels out loud.
- Practice in front of a mirror.
- Record your voice and listen to it to check your mistakes.
- Practice in front of friends – they can see what you can’t see.
- You can copy the voices of famous actors/characters.
You have to practice every day to become a professional.
You must build a portfolio
Your portfolio will be your biggest ally when you jump into the voice acting world. A portfolio is a collection of evidence that shows your level of competence at a given skill or set of skills.
A portfolio is really a make or break for you. This is where you really show off what you have done, and what you could do for a client.
Don’t be afraid to sell yourself and your work through it, and make sure you have plenty in there for clients to see.
A particular benefit of building a portfolio is that it helps your clients to trust and believe you, and with trust and believability comes work.
You can add any voice-over work you have done to your portfolio, like voice-over work you may have done on YouTube, or work you’ve done for a small games company, or you could read some audiobooks. Any of these suggestions are great places to start.
If you haven’t done anything, you can start by doing some light work and just pop that into your portfolio!
Building a presence for yourself
After you’ve built up your portfolio you need to create a presence for yourself, whether that is offline or online. Having a presence is going to make people aware of your voice acting talent and it will make people ask questions about you.
Social media is a place to start building a presence for yourself.
Social media can be anything from Facebook to Instagram, all platforms have their strengths and weaknesses, but all can be used as a marketing tool for you and your voice talent.
Alternatively, you could use speciality sites for voice actors like voices.com, voicebunny.com, and covoco.com. You can sign up to any one of these sites, post your portfolio, and start attracting clients!
Finally, you could set up a WordPress site for yourself, where you could write about yourself, your talents, and maybe share some videos of you doing your voice acting and/or game covers for people to see.
Clients and directors are regularly looking for voice actors on the internet. So make some noise, grab their attention, and let them know you’re ready to be the star of their next game.
Getting your first job
The final step you need to take on your voice acting transformation is to get your first job. Getting your first job is likely to be difficult, and I can guarantee that you’ll end up feeling disappointed, but if you can just push through those first few days/weeks it’ll be worth it!
You can join freelance websites to get a job. All you need to do is make a profile and upload your portfolio for clients to hear.
When starting out as a freelance video game voice actor, it’s better if you offer low rates to clients when you apply for jobs.
Low rates will make you more desirable to clients as it shows your dedication to the work.
Here are some examples of freelance sites that you can start working on:
You could also join speciality voice acting websites like:
So now you have a better idea of how to become a video game voice actor. Here’s a quick reminder of the best bits we’ve talked about:
- Take regular lessons
- Practice in front of the mirror every day
- Practice different voices so you can get different levels of work
- Get a good microphone
- Listen to your recordings
- Build your portfolio
- Get on freelancing websites
- Above all be patient
“’Writing’ is the wrong way to describe what happens to words in a movie. First, you put down words. Then you rehearse them with actors. Then you shoot the words. Then you edit them. You cut a lot of them, you fudge them, you make up new ones in voice-over. Then you cut it and throw it all away.”Peter Landesman
How do I build a successful portfolio? Building a portfolio isn’t as bad as it sounds and can be fun in reality. Check out these tips by The Balance Careers on where to start.
How will I get into the video game voice-over industry? Like most careers, getting into them can be really difficult, but you should check out this article by Gravy For The Brain for advice on a career specifically in voice acting.
I’m not sure video game voice acting is for me. There are loads of areas you might like to think about getting into that are associated with gaming, check out my article on careers in the gaming world.