I had a conversation recently during which I realised that I have voiced the videogame Character, Vernon Locke in Payday2 for 7 whole years! This started off a train of thought about the longevity of video game characters and what that means. The ever increasing popularity of video games has evolved into them featuring more prominently in the awards industry. Just last summer, I received a One Voice award for best gaming performance as Locke and I have spoken previously about many aspects of voiceover awards. I am always looking for new awards to add to upcoming presentations and one such award that recently came on my radar was “The Guinness Book of World Records" for voice acting. It’s easy to think of the Guinness Book of World Records for things like the largest cat, tallest man, or widest mouth! But believe it or not, it has a whole array of voiceover-related categories. I pulled together some highlights of their videogame voiceover world records (awards really!) that were noteworthy:
Masako Nozawa, has been the original Japanese voice of Son Goku (among others) in the Dragon Ball game series since 1986 and has Guinness Book of World Records awards for voicing a character in a video game for the longest period of time (nearly 24 years) AND for having the longest female video game voice acting career of nearly 60 years. Incidentally, fans gave her the nickname "The Eternal Boy" as most of these characters have been male. She is probably also the oldest female voice artist (at 87) in the video game industry, although it has not been filed officially with TGBOWR.
The amazing achievement of the oldest male voiceover artist in a video game was by Sir Christopher Lee. He was 91 when he performed as the narrator and Saruman the White, in LEGO The Hobbit: The Videogame (Warner Bros-2014). It also interesting to note that Sir Christopher did some voice dubbing in the 1950’s when he was starting out. Christopher’s category gets me thinking there must be someone out there with a potential record of the youngest voice actor out there?
Another well-known gaming voice is American VO artist Charles Martinet, as Mario in the Super Mario series. No surprise really that he holds the prestigious title of the most videogame voiceover performances as the same character (104+), which was achieved in the UK over a 24-year period. He has a cameo voice in the yet untitled Mario movie coming out next year and is in the top 3 longest voicing video game actors, just behind Masako Nozawa.
Yet another American voiceover icon, Steve Blum, has an outstanding number of well know games (366+) out there that reads like a who’s who in video games…(Lego Batman 2, X-Men, Star Wars Rebels). He leads in the title of the most prolific male videogame voice actor. No doubt Steve is currently out there breaking his own record. That makes me wonder who is the most prolific British videogame voice actor out there?
Jennifer Hale, a Canadian American, has been crowned with the title of most prolific female videogame voice actor in the industry with some 168+ videogames. Commander Shepard in the Mass Effect games is one of her most prominent roles along with characters in both the Marvel and Star Wars universes. She has been dubbed a sort of Meryl Streep by The New Yorker Magazine. (It also seems quite poignant that Jennifer wasn’t allowed to watch cartoons as a child). Her voice will be featured in some new Star Wars & X men projects coming out in the near future.
Speaking of Star Wars, the largest entertainment voice-over project was undertaken for the creation of the LucasArts videogame Star Wars: The Old Republic (Electronic Arts, BioWare, and LucasArts,). 200,000+ lines of recorded voice-over dialogue were performed by hundreds of voice-actors for the MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game), which was first released in 2011.
Looks like Locke has a long way to go before he starts breaking any records. These are just some of the voice over world records to aspire to! As the industry continues to expand, there will, no doubt be new voiceover categories to compete in and new records to be made and broken. Although it takes some time to go through the application process, as in most awards, it’s a golden pat on the back to be recognized as award winning . It’s an innovative marketing angle that can also be used to differentiate and highlight one’s voice-acting career. As in most things in life, who doesn’t like to be the best at something and to reach for greater success? So in this case, it’s not just 'break a leg', it’s break a record!
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