Saturday, July 18, 2015

Toastmasters: Video Game Voice-Overs and Public Speaking

At a recent Toastmasters Leadership Institute training meeting, I attended a workshop presented by Brooke Chestnut that dealt with the topic of attracting millennials to Toastmasters. 

Millennials, as you may know, are people of the generation who were born roughly between the early 1980s and the early 2000s (a group for which I am technically a member). Our generation has become a powerhouse of creativity and entrepreneurship, although we're also known as a boomerang generation since many of us tend to put off traditional rites of adulthood until later in life. 

Actually, our generation has unfortunately mostly come to be known as a generation of children who feel undeservingly entitled (if you don't believe me, try telling one of the children in America who has gone straight to college after high school that they actually have to read books and do homework to earn good grades and see how they react).

I enjoyed Brooke Chestnut's training session. There were times when it felt a little insulting (I am a millennial after all), but the message was clear: millennials are an important cohort of people who can be benefitted by the improvements in public speaking and leadership that come through Toastmasters membership. During the workshop, we talked about a lot of the thing that are of common interest among those of us in our teens to early thirties. These are things like social media, technology, and video games. 

Video games specifically I thought were an interesting topic to bring up. I've been playing video games my whole life, and I know how important they can be to many in my generation. One thing that I thought about during the workshop was how many great voiceovers have been done for modern video games. These days, video game productions can be massive undertakings and many high-caliber actors and speakers have started taking on voiceover roles. For instance, here's a video with five awesome voiceover parts from some common video games (the video says Top 5, but I don't necessarily agree with that ranking):

The games and voice actors from this video are, in order:

Fallout 3 (voiced by Ron Perlman)
Killzone (voiced by Brian Cox)

Due to the nature of video games, many of the great speeches and monologues come before or during some kind of battle. Just as real leaders need to find ways to motivate their "troops" before a serious engagement, it's entertaining to have a great speaker buildup a battle before you enter into it within the digital realm of a video game. To empower the gamer, the voiceover actor needs to use their speaking skills to make the character feel real and dynamic. That's why video games are a growing source of great speaking examples.

Here is a video with Carver's end speech (voiced by Ricardo Chavira) from Dead Space 3:

Here's another voiceover, this time by Jen Taylor at the end of Halo: Reach. It's nice to conclude a game with something more than just the credits:

These video game voiceovers offer some great examples of the power of the speech. With video games continually growing in the scale of their production and their use in society, I imagine that we'll see many more great speeches from video games in the future. For myself, I'll be paying closer attention to the voice overs in the video games that I play, to listen for great writing and great speaking when it pops up. By knowing the ways in which speaking appeals to others, we Toastmasters are better able to share our approach of improvement through practice with a wider audience. I think video game voiceovers may offer some of the great speeches that people will look back on in the near future.

I'll leave you with one more video. H
ere's a video that someone put together showing Charlie Chaplain's wonderful speech from The Great Dictator set to various video game sequences:

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