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One focus at this year’s GamesBeat Summit is the visibility of women in the gaming industry. This includes literally female voices that gamers hear: one of the panels was titled “Women in Video Game Voice Acting”. Hosted by Help Network’s Julia Bianco Schaffling, the panel covered diversity, equity and inclusion in the world of three voice actors and sports voice acting.
All three panel members agreed that the atmosphere in the world of voice acting has changed. Efforts still need to be made to make the space more diverse and inclusive, although the industry as a whole is more diverse.
Diversity and inclusion
Jennifer Hale, known for her work as Commander Shepard, Rivet and Bastilla Shawn, said that when she first started, there were only a few roles available to her. “It’s amazing to see the evolution of the consciousness of how stories are told, and how they are presented, and what is available to women. We’ve just stopped being ‘girls’ and we’ve become story people. We have become the main characters. “
Sisi Jones, known for her work as Fury in Delilah and Darkside 3 in Firewatch, adds that the roles are more diverse. “There are now more than one woman in a game, when she was a woman and 20 friends.” Anjali Bhimani, known for her roles as Rampart in Simetra and Apex Legends in Overwatch, added that the industry is changing its views not only about gender diversity, but also about background and personality. “We’re not just a woman, we’re all these different things … it looks like everyone is looking at themselves onscreen or in a game one way or another.”
However Bhimani also raised the issue that, in an attempt to make diversity a champion, casting can sometimes be a bit harsh. “I think we’re all doing a very nice line business – not just in sports, but in the entertainment industry in general – where we’re all artists and we’re all playing for someone who isn’t us, we’re almost more pigeons. Hale called this a “period of improvement” for the casting.
Women’s experience in video game voice acting
One area where they agreed that the industry could use some work is the understanding of women’s voice acting equipment. Jones noted that not all vocal cords are constructed uniformly, and that it is important for directors to understand how to best care for their cast. “It’s really scary to go to a session where I’m expecting to scream for two hours at the top of my lungs, but sometimes there will be blood in long sessions with a director who probably doesn’t know how to take care of an actor.”
Another area where panel members felt there was a need to make further progress is in the role of actors in the story process. Hale compared it to film and television, where artists would be involved in the initial workshops of creative scripts, something that doesn’t happen in the sports industry. “It’s been a technically inspired medium for so long, but now the story and the character’s role are very important … it all comes down to collaboration, not competition.”
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