Here at Dream Harvest, we've always tried to make sure that when we're looking for our voice-over talent for our games, we aim to make sure that we're bringing on a diverse cast of people to properly align with the worlds we're creating.
Our upcoming title, NeuroNet: Mendax Proxy is a great example of this. We had 24 characters being voiced by 13 amazing actors. The world and characters of Mendax Proxy is rich and culturally diverse and we wanted to make sure this was reflected by the voice over talent we hired for the project.
Hiring the right talent for the voices of your characters in your games can be tough. As developers we spend 100s or even 1000s of hours painstakingly putting together scripts, writing character backgrounds, making sure every bit of dialogue has the emotional impact and feeling we want to get across to our players. It's important to get the voices for those characters perfect.
For a long time, game developers have been criticized for their lack of diversity when it comes to voice over casting. While there has been some improvement in recent years, the issue is still rampant with developers often hiring white actors to play characters of colour and cisgender actors to play transgender characters.
This isn't just an issue of political correctness or 'checking the diversity box'. When games get it wrong, they can end up reinforcing harmful stereotypes and tropes. In some cases, these misrepresentations can even lead to players feeling uncomfortable or alienated from a game.
But what are the benefits of hiring a diverse cast of voice-over talent?
There are many! Here are just a few:
- Diverse casts help to accurately reflect the world we live in - They can help to educate people about other cultures and lifestyles.
- Diverse casts add richness, depth, and complexity to stories and characters - They can help players connect with characters on a deeper level.
- Hiring diverse voice actors is simply the right thing to do! It's morally correct and just good business practice.
It's time for game developers to start taking diversity seriously when it comes to voice over casting. Hiring diverse voice talent is not only the right thing to do, but it can also lead to a more well-rounded and engaging game experience for all players.
So, what can you do to help promote diversity in voice-over casting? Here are a few tips:
- Talk to your team about the importance of hiring diverse voice talent. Make sure everyone is aware of the importance of representation and why it's important to cast diversely.
- Look for voice talent that reflects the diversity of your game's players. There are plenty of talented voice actors and actresses from all walks of life, so take the time to find someone who can accurately represent your game's characters.
- Don't be afraid to reach out to diverse voice talent agencies. There are several agencies that represent talented voice actors and actresses from all walks of life.
- Be mindful of the language you use when casting for voices. Avoid using offensive terminology or stereotypes when describing potential voice actors or actresses.
- If you're holding open casting calls, add some additional information to your audition pack stating which characters are POC or LGBT+ and that you're looking to specifically cast talent that fit these.
Hiring diverse voice-over talent is not only the right thing to do, but it can also lead to a more well-rounded and engaging game experience for all players.
Finally, hiring a diverse cast of voice talent is a great way to show your support for diversity and inclusion. By casting a wide range of voices, you're sending a message that everyone deserves a chance to tell their story. This is an important message that we should all be trying to send out into the world.
We ended up working with some amazing people such as Su Ling Chan, based in Malaysia, Leader Looi, based in Hong Kong, Chris Tester, Margaret Ashley, Mike Bodie and Walles Hamonde, all based in the UK and Adam Rosenbloom, Dani Chambers, Emeline Tuck, Wolf Williams, Nicholas Selker, Phillip Sacramento, Steph Novak all based in the US. We can't wait to hear what people think of NeuroNet: Mendax Proxy when it launches.
Thanks for reading - as an extra bonus check out a preview of the feature-length documentary we're creating called The Voices Of Mendax Proxy that explores the cast and the voice acting work behind our upcoming title: