Polygon: Growing Demand for Actresses in Video GamesReported on Friday, October 26th 2018
Game and entertainment website Polygon has done a deep dive into the growing prominence of female voice acting talent in games. While there is still much headway to be made, this growth is chiefly driven by the greater prominence of female characters in games, and the influence of women creating games. Here are some excerpts from the article.
Fifty actresses were employed to voice the many female characters in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey from a total cast of around 120, according to IMDb. They include Melissanthi Mahut, whose Kassandra is likely to be in the running for best performance of the year awards.
By comparison, Ubisoft hired nine women for the original Assassin’s Creed (2007) out of a total voice cast of 38. That means that not only does 2018 game includes a much larger cast, but also a higher percentage of women actors: from 23 percent to 41 percent.
According to actors agency Voices.com, demand is increasing for actresses. The company, which allows actors to upload their profiles and reels, says its female clients are now more likely to find a gig in games than the men on their books. The number of women uploading video game work to their demos — and actively seeking work in games — has increased sharply, according to chief brand officer Stephanie Ciccarelli.
“There’s more work for women voice actors than ever before,” she says. “Certainly it’s increased in the last five years, from what was previously a male-dominated field. It’s crazy that we’ve gone from having virtually no roles whatsoever in certain fields, like movie trailer voice-overs and video games, to a situation where women are booking more [roles] than the guys.”
Women themselves are driving the increase in roles for women, and not just when it comes to voice acting. They’re also taking on more positions of influence at game companies and as are a growing audience for games.
“Many more women are getting jobs writing, directing and producing and they’re creating more roles that they see themselves in,” says Ciccarelli. “Games companies want to make content for the people who want to play games. Women want to see themselves the way they would like to be seen, in leadership positions.”
Emily Grace Buck is a narrative designer formerly of Telltale, whose work includes games such as The Walking Dead, Batman and Guardians of the Galaxy. She notes that the balance is still tipped toward male characters, but there’s been an encouraging amount of progress.
“One thing that’s been really beautiful to see over the past bunch of years is the number of female writers in games,” she says. “It’s been steadily increasing, especially at midsize and larger studios.
To be sure, this shift toward an equal split between men and women actors is patchy at best. In 2018, Sony hired 60 actors for God of War, only 14 of whom were women. About a third of Far Cry 5’s cast of 90 were women.
“None of the progress we have made as an industry in the past decade is wasted progress, but there’s always more work to be done,” adds MacCoubrey. “It’s a never-ending cycle of needing more stories about women, [and] more women developers to bring those stories and experiences to life, to create parts for more women to act in, to share with more women players. Yes, there are more opportunities, but we need to continue to work together and support one another.”
Shelly Shenoy has been voicing roles in games for years, including Kate Garcia in The Walking Dead Season 3. She also runs training courses for voice actors, placing her students with game development projects.
“The roles in games are getting better,” she says. “Ten years ago, you’d be playing a cartoon character, like, ‘Hey, I’m a talking coffee pot.’ Now, we’re seeing way more authentic scenes of romance or heartbreak or crisis, and they require authentic performances.”
Ciccarelli, who is a co-author of the book Voice Acting for Dummies, says that anyone considering a career in voice acting has to be prepared.
“You need to be talented, which is to say that you know how to use your voice, to perform and to be an actor. You also need to be technically proficient, with a home studio so you can edit and manipulate your voice recordings. And you have to have some business sense, because you need to be able to market yourself and get yourself out there and share with everyone what you can do.”
The full article can be read at Polygon.com.