Aisha Tyler On Voicing Watch Dogs And Gamer Cred

by Ben Reeves on Oct 11, 2013 at 09:00 AM

Celebrities are no strangers to video games, but they usually voice a relevant protagonist whichever game they’ve signed on for. Aisha Tyler (Archer, Whose Line is it Anyway?) is playing herself as a minor character in Ubisoft’s upcoming open world techno-thriller Watch Dogs. We caught up with Tyler and asked her about the part, what it’s like hosting Ubisoft’s press conference every year, and why gamers don’t respect each other.

How did you get involved in Watch Dogs?
I had a good relationship with Ubisoft after I did the press conference last year, and we were super excited to do more stuff together. Watch Dogs was a big reveal. People lost their s***. I don’t know if you remember that, but they were saying that they had never seen a reaction like that at E3 before. I think we might have gotten an ovation, and gaming people don’t ever stand up for anything. I was super excited about that game, and was raving about it and then they just called and said, “Hey do you want to be in the game?” I haven’t seen myself in the game yet either.

Which is kind of fun.

How you interact with the main character?
I don’t know. I honestly don’t know. I laid down so much dialogue that I don’t know how I interact with the character. I don’t know how I drive the story forward. I feel I’m a robust NPC, but I couldn’t I tell you how my character drives the story forward. Because there’s also, in relation to dialogue, you can hack everybody, and you’re learning information about them that’s not verbal. So you could learn a bunch of stuff about my character inside the game that could help drive either the side quest or the main campaign forward, but I don’t know what that stuff is yet. So I can’t tell you. I want to tell you, but I can’t.

Yeah. So you mentioned you had some notes on your character. What influence did you have on the character?
This is the third game I’ve been in, and I’m also familiar with voice work. When I went in for Halo: Reach, they were like, “So, Halo is about-“ I was like, “Stop talking. I’ve played so many hundreds of hours of video games, I know exactly what you guys want and I also know what you need. You have to die thirty ways, and fall off a cliff thirty ways, and get smashed by a tank thirty ways." So I knew what was necessary going in. Beyond that, since this is a game about hacking where you can listen in on other people’s conversations, I ad libbed a lot. I wanted it to be things I would actually say, because I am playing myself in this game. So it’s like, “This isn’t how I would say it. I would say it like this,” or I’d add these words, or I’d subtract these words.

If you actually ended up in a Big Brother-like government conspiracy, this is how you’re actually going to behave.
Yes. Exactly, exactly. I’ve contemplated that possibility many, many times by the way. Alien wars and zombie apocalypses. I’ve thought through every gaming scenario in real life. A variety of post-apocalyptic scenarios have run through my mind. I know how I’d behave in all of them. Life doesn’t accommodate the kind of gaming lifestyle where I could play every day, not anymore. But I’ll literally go somewhere in real life and be like “Man this looks like Fallout 3.” And someone else will be like, “Oh you mean the DC subway, you idiot?” That’s how I think about the world. Only gamers talk that way.

Constantly relating the real world to games?
Right. If I’ve never been to a desert then my only reference for desert is this video game. When I play Rainbow Six Vegas, it’s like “Oh this looks like this casino I've been in.” Having those kinds of game relations makes them more real.

How did you first get involved with Ubisoft to do their 2012 E3 press conference?
They just called. It’s the easiest job ever, and it was fun. It’s so funny because during the live stream someone was like, “You look like you were really excited to see that.” I was like, “I was!” Because all this stuff was a secret even to me. Even during rehearsal, I didn’t get to see all the playback. So during the show, when someone else was presenting, I was lying down on the stage trying to see the demo. I was like, “What are they doing?! What’s happening!?” Because I love that stuff.

There were no TVs in the back?
Little s***ty ones. I want to see the big screen.

Did you get positive feedback about how you hosted the show?
Yeah, you know, the Internet’s full of haters. For the most part, people are really enthusiastic. But, I got a lot of s*** first year.

People saying, “You’re not really a gamer”?
Yeah. For me, I didn’t care if people said they didn’t think I was funny, I didn’t care if people said they thought I was ugly or stupid. I just hated people who were saying I didn’t play games. I just didn’t like that people were doubting my gamer credibility. It’s like essentially telling you, “You don’t love something.” That’s so much more insulting than saying like, “I don’t think you’re funny,” or “I don’t like the way you look.”

That made me nuts. I wrote this rant and I put it on my Facebook page thinking, “If someone else tweets that I don’t play, I’ll just refer them to this thing I wrote about how much I love games.” I wrote it and I posted on my Facebook page and I went to bed, and when I woke up in the morning, it was on the front page of Reddit. It was just because I feel like I was saying stuff that a lot of people felt – about people who were doubting other people’s gamer cred and how bulls*** that was. That post was literally translated into three different languages by the end of the day because people were like, “Why is it that different people who have all been excluded their whole lives are now being so s***ty and trying to keep other people out of a hobby they love?”

Where do you think that mentality comes from?
It’s strange, but it’s almost like you can’t really claim your nerd if you didn’t play alone for a substantial portion of your childhood A certain hardcore group feels like if you didn’t have a period in time where you’re like alone with your figurines then you’re not really a nerd. For me this is a group of people who, for the most part, were totally on the outside as kids and now they’ve created a club and they don’t want to let anybody else in. They are engaging in the same judgmental behavior that was used against them as kids. I don’t understand – can’t we share one thing in common that’s incredibly powerful. We all love to play video games. That should be the only requirement for getting into this club. You love video games. That’s it.

For more insight about the recording process, read our interview with Castlevania’s Robert Carlyle.