Do you know that feeling you get when you are completely immersed in the world of a video game? You’re so engaged by the world, characters, and the unfolding story that hours can go by without you even realizing it. Video games have magic that extends beyond graphics and exciting gameplay.

Casting director Julia Bianco Schoeffling, whose credits include God of War and Resident Evil VII: Biohazard, knows that actors are one of the main driving forces behind an immersive world. Her goal is simple—elevate the art of acting for video games to be as respected as stage acting or film acting. 

With modern video games using motion-capture acting to portray realistic human motion in their stories, video game acting is slowly gaining recognition. But video game acting has a few learning curves compared to more traditional forms of acting.

“Games are kind of ragtag, and there’s not really a standard,” Schoeffling recently told the Los Angeles Times. “For actors, there’s never been a guide [of] what to expect, from auditions to showing up on set.”

In Schoeffling’s recently published book,The Art and Business of Acting for Video Games, Schoeffling breaks down the challenges that are unique to motion-capture acting and what you need to know before stepping on the sound stage for the first time. This is what you need to know if you want to perform in the medium.

The_quarry'The Quarry'Credit: 2K

Tips for Acting in Video Games

Schoeffling has seen too many pros approach the video game medium without proper preparation, so here is what she says to know before showing up to set. 

Unlike most sets, the motion-capture stages can be barren. Come ready to play and try to imagine the environment you are performing in the best you can. Your setting will be digitally installed later, as will your costume. 

As a video game actor, the actor will be dressed from head to toe in a motion capture suit. The mocap suit captures most of the body movements of an actor with its various sensors that track gravitational pull and rotation to fully capture movement. While the mocap suit captures the actor’s performance, cameras are placed all around the sound stage to pick up every subtle movement. 

It can be easy to feel the need to overact, but there is no point. The multiple cameras and mocap suit are there to capture the nuanced details of the performance. 

The same can be said when it comes to delivering lines. Actor Anjali Bhimani says that there is nothing wrong with instinct, and act as if the voice wasn’t being captured. This gives actors the freedom to dictate their movements when they aren’t in direct eyesight.

Actor Noshir Dalal mentions something similar to Bhimani in the book, saying, “I think video games are one of the only performance mediums… where your audience can be directly impacted by your performance. Your performance can literally change the choices a player makes in-game.” 

Now that you know what to be prepared for, do a little bit of research on some of the best game-acting performances. I suggest watching Ashley Johnson’s performance for Ellie in The Last of Us or the always enjoyable Willem Defoe and Elliot Page in Beyond: Two Souls. These are masterclasses in empathy-driven performances that ground the character while enhancing the reality of the game’s world. 

The_last_of_us'The Last of Us Part II'Credit: Sony Interactive Entertainment

Although it is difficult to get an A-list actor to take a gamer seriously if it’s not a big payday, Schoeffling hopes that actors will consider a small game in the same way they would view an indie film. Games like The Quarry, Until Dawn, and The Last of Us Part 2 feature well-known actors that bring skills to the storytelling experience, drawing audiences in to play through an almost theatrical experience.  

With graphics improving in games and making the world feel more cinematic than ever, actors in games are memorable and have the power to elevate the story to the next level. Video games are able to reflect the work of the actors, so why not audition and see what could come from the experience? 

Let us know if you have any tips for video game acting in the comments below!

Source: LA Times