Feature

A Look At The Voices Behind Gaming’s Iconic Characters

by Brian Shea on Sep 23, 2015 at 04:00 PM

Voice actors do so much for the characters we spend our free time with. While writing is critical to shaping each character, so much of a character’s personality is driven by a voice actor’s performance.

Voice acting has become such an established part of the typical gaming experience, but disagreement between voice actors and publishers could lead to a voice actor strike, meaning that some of the voices we’ve gone on adventures with could disappear for a period of time. Join us as we highlight some of the actors behind the voices we’ve spent hours upon hours with.

Nolan North

One of the most prominent voice actors in the history of the industry, Nolan North has taken on several major roles and has become all but synonymous with voice acting in the game industry. In addition to taking on several leading roles in major games, he was also listed as himself as a voice option for your character in Saints Row IV.

Notable Roles: 

  • Nathan Drake, Uncharted
  • Ghost, Destiny
  • Desmond Miles, Assassin’s Creed

Jen Taylor

She’s quite literally the voice in your head. Jen Taylor has enjoyed a long run as Cortana in the Halo series, but she has done much more than voice Master Chief’s A.I. companion. In addition to that role, she has also worked with two of the most beloved developers, playing major roles in Nintendo’s Mario games and Valve’s Left 4 Dead series.

Notable Roles:

  • Cortana/Dr. Halsey – Halo
  • Peach/Toad – Mario series (1999 – 2007)
  • Zoey – Left 4 Dead

Tara Strong

With a history in video game voice acting stretching back to the ‘90s, Tara Strong is one of the mainstays of the industry. From appearances in smaller titles to major parts in triple-A releases like the Metal Gear Solid series, Strong is known as one of the go-to voice actors in the video game industry. Also, she’s an incredible Harley Quinn.

Notable Roles:

  • Harley Quinn – Batman: Arkham/Injustice: Gods Among Us/Infinite Crisis/Lego Batman
  • Paz Ortega Andrade – Metal Gear Solid V
  • Rikku – Final Fantasy X/X-2

Charles Martinet

Thanks to this man, Nintendo’s flagship character might just have the most well-known voice of any character in the industry. While he hasn’t permeated the industry in the diverse way that Nolan North and Troy Baker have, Charles Martinet has more games under his belt than almost any other voice actor on this list. 

Notable Roles:

  • Mario/Luigi/Wario/Waluigi/Baby Mario/Baby Luigi – Mario series
  • Paarthurnax – The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
  • Gouji Rokkaku – Jet Set Radio

Ashley Johnson

Though she took home a BAFTA Award for her role in The Last of Us, it essentially served as Ashley Johnson’s breakout role in video game voice acting. A professional actress since the late ‘80s, Johnson has enjoyed a long history of acting in both film and television before making the jump to video games in the mid ‘00s with games based on animated TV series she had previously voiced characters in.

Notable Roles:

  • Ellie – The Last of Us
  • Gwen Tennyson – Ben 10
  • Petra – Minecraft: Story Mode

Ellen McLain

Even though she speaks in a robotic voice for the role you best know her for, Ellen McLain still conveys a sharp wit and sincere menace without breaking a sweat. McLain has also worked with Valve in several other projects, and has appeared as GlaDOS in several games from developers like Telltale Games, Hidden Path Entertainment, and Traveller’s Tales.

Notable Roles:

  • GlaDOS/Turrets/Caroline/Spheres – Portal 
  • Administrator – Team Fortress 2
  • Combine Overwatch – Half-Life 2

Phil LaMarr

Even if you know Phil LaMarr primarily due to his work on MADtv or Futurama, his history in video game voice acting is undeniable. With an established body of video game voice acting work stretching back to the early ‘00s, LaMarr has shown longevity and adaptability in his roles.

Notable Roles:

  • Vamp – Metal Gear Solid
  • Kotal Kahn – Mortal Kombat X
  • Aquaman – Injustice: Gods Among Us/Young Justice: Legacy

Tara Platt

From early roles in games like Halo 2 to more recent appearances in titles like Bayonetta 2, Tara Platt has likely appeared in a game you’ve spent a lot of time in. Platt has also voiced several characters in anime series including Naruto and Sailor Moon.

Notable Roles:

  • Mitsuru Kirijo – Persona 3
  • Zero – Drakengard 3
  • Noir – Tales of the Abyss

John DiMaggio

Another veteran voice actor who appeared in Futurama, John DiMaggio has landed some high profile roles thanks to his flexible vocal chords. Without prior knowledge, it would be hard to imagine that the same voice actor played both Bender and Marcus Fenix.

Notable Roles:

  • Marcus Fenix – Gears of War
  • Wakka/Kimahri – Final Fantasy X
  • Galactus/Colossus/Odin/Kingpin/Rocket Raccoon/Thanos – Lego Marvel Super Heroes

Courtnee Draper

Though she is best known for her work as your likeable companion Elizabeth in BioShock Infinite, she has brought her talents to several smaller roles. While she did lend her voice to the Kingdom Hearts series earlier on, she now appears to be expanding more into the game industry.

Notable Roles: 

  • Elizabeth – BioShock Infinite
  • White Tiger – Disney Infinity
  • Karen – Alien Rage

On the next page, we take a look at more prominent video game voice actors.

Troy Baker

Another one of the most prominent, widely performing voice actors working in the industry today, Troy Baker has used his versatile vocal stylings to bring a multitude of characters to life. His performances have garnered several awards including a D.I.C.E. Award for Outstanding Achievement in Character, a BTVA Voice Acting Award for Voice Actor of the Year, and a VGX Award for Best Voice Actor.

Notable Roles:

  • Joel – The Last of Us
  • Booker DeWitt – BioShock Infinite
  • Talion – Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor

Steve Blum

It seems like every time you turn on a game, you hear a performance from Steve Blum. From Bionic Commando to Batman, Blum has flexed his acting chops in a wide range of roles and has voiced well over 200 different characters in video games, earning him a Guinness World Record for “most prolific videogame voice actor (male).”

Notable Roles:

  • Tank Dempsey – Call of Duty
  • Sub-Zero – Mortal Kombat X
  • Grayson Hunt – Bulletstorm

David Hayter

With Konami’s well-documented troubles, as well as its decision to replace him in MGS V, David Hayter has already disappeared from his most prominent role, Snake. Despite this, former Konami visionary Koji Igarashi has tapped Hayter for his upcoming Kickstarter-funded project, Bloodstained.

Notable Roles:

  • Snake – Metal Gear Solid/Super Smash Bros.
  • James “Bucky” Barnes – Marvel Heroes
  • Gebel – Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night

Erin Fitzgerald

Her credits list is as long as or longer than almost anyone else on the list, with credits ranging from League of Legends and World of Warcraft to a plethora of JRPGs. Whether you’re a Persona fan or you prefer Shin Megami Tensei, chances are you’ve enjoyed a performance from Erin Fitzgerald.

Notable Roles:

  • Chie Satonaka – Persona
  • Teepo – Tales of Xillia
  • Junko Enoshima – Danganronpa

Laura Bailey

Laura Bailey is another one of those performers who has probably been in many games you’ve played. A veteran voice actress of anime and other animated series and features, Bailey saw her big break in the game industry as Rayne in the BloodRayne series. Bailey has also taken roles in major series like Final Fantasy, The Elder Scrolls, Soul Calibur, and Saints Row.

Notable Roles:

  • Fetch – Infamous Second Son
  • Rise Kujikawa – Persona
  • Chun-Li – Street Fighter (2009 – Present)

John Patrick Lowrie

Though his body of work is more focused than many on this list, John Patrick Lowrie has delivered consistently high-quality work. In working with developers like Valve, Bungie, and Sucker Punch, he has been around the game industry since the last ‘90s.

Notable Roles:

  • Sniper – Team Fortress 2
  • Narrator – Total Annihilation
  • Earthshaker/Pudge/Other Characters – Dota 2 

Jennifer Hale

With a list of credits so long that she holds the Guinness World Record for “most prolific videogame voice actor (female),” Jennifer Hale hasn’t had much trouble finding work since her earlier industry work in the mid-‘90s. Though you probably know her best as the savior of the galaxy if you played FemShep in the Mass Effect trilogy, Hale’s list of roles is one of the most impressive accumulated by any performer in the industry.

Notable Roles:

  • Commander Shepard (Female) – Mass Effect
  • Samus Aran – Metroid Prime
  • Naomi Hunter/Emma Emmerich – Metal Gear Solid

Travis Willingham

With an impressive resume spanning anime, animated films, animated series, and live-action performances, Travis Willingham is versatile in the roles he takes on in the game industry. He’s used this flexibility to his advantage, appearing in everything from fighters like Street Fighter and Soulcalibur to shooters like Battlefield Hardline and Far Cry 4.

Notable Roles:

  • Guile – Street Fighter (2009 – Present)
  • Knuckles – Sonic the Hedgehog (2010 – Present)
  • Frederic-104/Jul ‘Mdama/Paul DeMarco/Prophet Steward – Halo

Melissa Hutchison

As the voice of Clementine in Telltale’s The Walking Dead, Melissa Hutchison won a Spike Video Game Award for “Best Performance by a Human Female” in 2013 and earned two BAFTA Award nominations for “Best Performer.” Her experience goes back much further than her long-running relationship with Telltale Games, however.

Notable Roles:

  • Clementine – Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead
  • Toad Junior/Beauty – The Wolf Among Us
  • Ashe – League of Legends

Dee Bradley Baker

He may be best known for his guttural growls and grunts in games like Evolve, Diablo III, and Left 4 Dead 2, but Dee Bradley Baker has held plenty of big roles during his long career in video game voice acting. Baker has been voicing a wide array of video game characters since the late ‘90s, but he got his start in voice acting playing the role of announcer and Olmec in Nickelodeon’s early ‘90s game show, Legends of the Hidden Temple.

Notable Roles:

  • Joe – Viewtiful Joe
  • Atlas/P-Body – Portal 2
  • Ra’s al Ghul – Batman: Arkham City