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One of the main focuses of this year’s GamesBeat Summit was the visibility of women in the gaming industry. This includes the literal female voices that gamers hear: one of the panels was titled “Women in Video Game Narration”. Moderated by Halp Network’s Julia Bianco Schoeffling, the panel consisted of three voice actors and explored diversity, equity and inclusion in the world of game voice acting.
All three panellists agreed that the climate in the world of voice acting has changed. While efforts still need to be made to make the space diverse and inclusive, the industry as a whole has become more diverse
diversity and inclusion
Jennifer Hale, known for her work as Commander Shepard, Rivet and Bastila Shan, said she only had certain roles available when she started. “It has been phenomenal to see the development of awareness of how stories are told and presented and what is available to women. We stopped being just “girls” and became people in stories. We have become leading actors.”
Cissy Jones, known for her work as Delilah in Firewatch and Fury in Darksiders 3, adds that the roles are more varied. “There’s more than one woman in a game now, where there used to be one woman and 20 guys.” Anjali Bhimani, known for her roles as Symmetra in Overwatch and Rampart in Apex Legends, added that the industry isn’t just sharing her views about gender diversity, but also about background and personality. “We’re not just one woman, we’re all these different things … It feels like everyone sees each other on screen or in game one way or another now.”
Although Bhimani also pointed out that in an effort to encourage diversity, the casting can be a bit rigid at times. “I feel like we all walk a very fine line — not just in games, but in the entertainment industry in general — where, even though we’re all actors and we’re all playing someone who isn’t us, we did it almost got pigeonholed more.” Hale called this a “correction time” for the casting.
The experience of women in video game voice acting
One of the areas where they agreed the industry could use some work is in understanding female voice acting tools. Jones mentioned that not all vocal cords are created equal and it is crucial for directors to understand how best to take care of their actors. “It’s really scary going into a session where I’m expected to scream at the top of my lungs for two hours, but sometimes bleed to death in longer sessions with a director who may not know how to take care of the actor .”
Another area where the panelists felt further progress was needed was the actors’ role in the story process. Hale likened it to film and television, where creatives like actors are involved in the early workshops of the script, something that doesn’t happen in the games industry. “It’s been a tech-driven medium for so long, but now the role of story and character is so important… It’s all about collaboration, cooperation, not competition.”
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