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.

MP3 File

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.

15 Responses so far.

  1. OddlyOtter says:

    Man I love these two so much. Thanks Jacqui!

  2. Bekkael says:

    Playing these games really is a deep, transporting experience, not the least of which is because of the tremendously talented voice actors. You guys breathe life and emotion into these characters, no doubt about it.

    These blogs are so awesome! Thank you so much Raphael, Jennifer and Jacqui. :D <3

  3. Saberchic says:

    <3!!! Love it! Thanks jacqui!

  4. Michelle B says:

    Been waiting for this all day. Glad to see its up now :D I love these audioblogs so much. They have done so much more in bringing ME3 to a new level and making me more anxious for its release date. Cannot wait!

  5. Jennifer says:

    Thank you so much, all of you, for taking the time to do this. It really does mean so much to us, your fans. I can honestly say I am one of those people that this game has just gotten into to me. From the first time I created my femShep in ME, it’s been a fantastic universe, to almost feel a part of. A wonderful, artistic view of entertainment. It would NOT be the same without the talent Mr. Sbarge and Ms. Hale provide.
    I can say this because playing as broShep and/or with other LIs is never the same experience, as my first femShep Kaidan ship. ME2 had me in tears for days, my husband didn’t quite know what to make of it. From the power of the opening sequence and losing my femShep, to Horizon. *SHAKES FIST* The emotional rollercoaster that was. But it is all so vivid because of the fantastic VAs. Take the bow you deserve.

  6. Andy says:

    Thank you Mr. Sbarge. Your audioblogs are always informative and entertaining. I enjoy them so very much.

  7. Meri Jo says:

    Thank you so very much Mr. Sbarge and Ms. Hale! You have allowed a video game to come “alive” for so many people! I, for one, was never a sci-fi person, was never really interested in it. But, since playing Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2, I can say, ‘Wow’! The time you have taken to make these characters so real is amazing! Thanks for your contribution to this market! Have a great day! Can’t wait to hear you in ME3!

  8. xenzen says:

    It’s so true that these characters have carved themselves into our hearts and minds, but while the writing is excellent, it’s the voices – your voices – that bring them to life! I remember when Baldur’s Gate came out, that I thought it was a big deal that there were some voiced dialogue, but it was when KoTOR came out that I was inspired to write fanfic and draw fanart. Not just me, of course – the Internet is littered with fan-created media (art, stories, sculpture – even LEGOs) dedicated to your characters. Don’t sell yourselves short!

  9. Lyriel says:

    The quality of the voice acting in a game (and the writing, of course) really has a huge impact on the player’s immersion into the experience. I hadn’t realized how powerful it would be until I stumbled onto KOTOR, which led me to the Mass Effect series. It makes the entertainment more interactive, and much more personal, when the characters you encounter have real voices – something entirely different from the consumer experience of movies or television. That’s what gets under our skin – and in the case of Mass Effect (and KOTOR for Mr. Sbarge), it is your talent that renders our experience so meaningful.

    Thank you not only for being so good at your craft, but for sharing yourselves so generously as people outside it. It completes the experience for us players as people, and I cannot express how aweomely cool and appreciated that is.

  10. Lyriel says:

    Um, it’s not that I didn’t appreciate Ms. Hale in KOTOR either – I certainly did! I meant that it was specifically Carth Onasi’s character development as voiced by Mr. Sbarge that got me hooked onto games that were fully voiced. I am playing SWTOR now, and when I found out Ms. Hale voiced the female trooper I simply had to create one – and I am loving it!

  11. […] Here’s part three of a multi-part series where Raphael Sbarge (VA for Carth Onasi, Knights of the Old Republic) interviews via phone Jennifer Hale (Satele Shan, Star Wars: The Old Republic). Carth and Satele. Simply hawt! […]

  12. maxon says:

    It’s so great to hear from these actors – thank you both.

  13. Jonathan says:

    Thank you so much for this, I know this must be awkward to a degree but I thank you for taking the time and doing it.

  14. Tina says:

    Bekkael :
    Playing these games really is a deep, transporting experience, not the least of which is because of the tremendously talented voice actors. You guys breathe life and emotion into these characters, no doubt about it.
    These blogs are so awesome! Thank you so much Raphael, Jennifer and Jacqui. <3

    What Bek says, ditto!

  15. […] Thanks Biotic, you're welcome Parts three and four: Raphael Sbarge: Jennifer Hale Q&A Part 3 | FanGeek.com Raphael Sbarge: Jennifer Hale Q&A Part 4 | […]

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