02 FebRaphael Sbarge: Jennifer Hale Q&A Part 3
Raphael Sbarge (Kaidan Alenko, Mass Effect) and Jennifer Hale (Commander Shepard, Mass Effect) discuss the evolution of acting in video games and BioWare’s commitment to its characters in part 3 of their audioblog conversation. Missed a part? Catch up on parts 1 and 2.
Raphael: What has been, in your experience in working in games, kind of, the games that you most dislike doing? Without giving titles or I mean, without, you know, calling out the guilty. But what are the things that, what are the games that are …
Jennifer: Yeah – games where I’m asked to play a role, and not a person – do you know what I mean? Like, I’m just a nurse, or I’m just a girl in distress, you know. Or an ass-kicker, you know? Well, who’s the person? And games where the writing isn’t there, like the time hasn’t been taken to really get it in the writing. Where the writers have been rushed, or dismissed, so they couldn’t give their best-quality work. Those are the hardest ones. Or where people are vague, in a hurry and not concerned with specifics. Which, quite fortunately, happens less and less and less. There’s just such good work going on right now, it’s really great.
Raphael: I guess … and it’s such a competitive market, I guess. Everyone’s sort of pushing each other to the very best.
Jennifer: Yeah, and they’re realizing that the quality of acting that goes into it is gonna affect people’s experiences. People get attached to these games; it’s awesome. It’s like an epic movie they get to be in.
Raphael: It’s really true. It’s really true. Have you – I mean, obviously, seeing as that you get to go work in a dark room, essentially, with the microphone most days, you don’t necessarily — considering how much you work — you wouldn’t necessarily be recognized, sort of on the street, per se. But do you get voice recognized, when you call – say, the phone company or something?
Jennifer: You know what I do get? Is people look at me and go, “Do I know you – from somewhere? Where’d you go to school?” Like, it doesn’t register that my voice is familiar, because I also do a lot of commercials and cartoons, and I’m doing promos for an ABC Daytime show right now called The Revolution. So the voice, you know, the voice, this voice that I have is out there. But nobody really ties it in that specifically. They’re just like, “You … you look familiar.”
Raphael: Not realizing that you actually sound familiar.
Jennifer: People don’t – that’s not in our paradigm, though. “What?” But, if you’re walking down the street, and you hear somebody behind you that sounds like, let’s say an ex with a very powerful resonance – a good one or a bad one – your whole being will physiologically … you’ll feel it in your stomach, you’ll feel it and kind of get a little quivery in your limbs and stuff, and woah! Who’s that? And you’ll whip around to see if they’re there.
Raphael: Right, it has almost like a physiological response in your body. I know exactly what you mean.
Jennifer: It’s so powerful.
Raphael: Yeah, that’s really cool. What do you make of, essentially also the relationship – I mean, I’ve been so knocked out since we’ve been doing these audioblogs with how powerful these characters have really reached into people’s imaginations. What a deep place it is in them.
Jennifer: I credit BioWare’s commitment there. I can remember recording stuff with Caroline on Mass Effect 3 – Caroline, our director. And just one or two moments out of what – some 7,000 lines – we would stop and go, “Hold on. That writing’s not working. Let’s fix that.” You know, their commitment is so strong, and she would say things like, “OK, I played through this section, and I wanna have a look at this, and you know this is what I saw.” And I’m like, my gosh. You spend how many hundreds of hours working your butt off on this in your regular time, and then you play it in your free time, just to make sure it’s perfect and right? That’s what I credit it to – just the way they bust their butts to get it just right.
Raphael: It’s true – it’s almost like they’re game makers with a mission.
Jennifer: They are – that’s exactly what they are. That’s so funny.
Raphael: And I follow them on Twitter, and it’s incredible. Now, they’re saying, “I’m stepping into game play. My first time at ME3,” and you know, they’re stepping in. It’s like going into hallowed library, hallowed ground.
Jennifer: Yeah. I’ve been lucky enough to go to a couple of events because of the launch of the femShep specifically this year. And they have a whole display there at like, PAX, you know, the convention in Seattle last year, and things like that. Where they’ve got this huge sort of room set up, you can go in and play it – I know that’s fairly common. But they’ve just done such a tremendous job, with the trailers and the whole setup and the anticipation and the artwork. It’s just gorgeous. … It’s such an incredible experience, just being in there. It totally transports you.
Raphael: That’s spectacular. That’s just spectacular.