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What are Interactive Voiceovers?

Quite recently, I noticed the word “Interactive” being used more and more in the context of voiceovers.

So what does Interactive Voiceovers really mean?

The Interactive voiceovers, I want to explore are the ones most associated with video games and animation; rather than IVR (Interactive voice response), which is the technology that allows telephone users to interact with automated voice systems.

Defining Interactive

According to Encyclopedia Britannia, the interactive media (or multimedia) focus is any computer-delivered electronic system that allows the user to manipulate different types of media, such as sound, animation, and video graphics. Some of these common voiceover applications are specifically geared toward video games, training programs, and travel guides.

SAG-AFTRA's Definition

Interestingly, SAG-AFTRA uses the term “Interactive/Video Game” for contracts, rate sheets, and a producer guide. The term seems to have a more comfortable presence in union jobs and for the casters themselves. So perhaps this is a trend permeating down into the Non-Union world from the Union one. According to SAG’s rate sheets, interactive VO is designated as Off-camera Performers (VO) and atmospheric voices. Voice performers engaged in any video game off-camera (voiceover) performance or on-camera (motion capture) performance are considered Interactive. So ‘Interactive’ has become the appropriate verbiage, to encompass not only motion capture but also traditional gaming and animation voiceovers.

Who else is using it?

This raises the question...Are Interactive voices/demos a recent trend? Some voice artists have been using it for almost 10 years, so it’s not exactly ‘new’ was just more uncommonly used. Some Voice talents are now using Interactive to denote certain demo types while agents & casters are using the Animation-Interactive and Interactive-Games-Mocap, as distinctive voiceover categories.

Should I be using it?

In terms of searching for potential leads, some video game companies are also using the word Interactive in their company names, like Behaviour Interactive. Incorporating the term ‘interactive’ in our voiceover SEO keywords, in addition to ‘gaming’ or ‘videogame’ should be a consideration for all video game and animation voice actors. In creating new voice content such as demos, using the ‘Interactive’ label, to define and combine Animation, Mocap, and Video Game performances could help garner attention. Who knows maybe it will become an industry standard, used by everyone?

So it appears "Interactive" in the voice industry can mean a lot of different things. However, just as Interactive theatre breaks the fourth wall that separates the performer from the audience, the interactive voice actor is starting to do the same.

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Ian Russell

Ian Russell is a British Voiceover Artist specializing in commercial voice over, narration, video game, character voices, animation and more. He is a frequent guest speaker on conference panels and podcasts, sharing knowledge about voice over. Read More >>


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