Player Knowledge and the Voice Actor

Earlier this year, I was cast in a role in an audio drama where my character was ultimately revealed to be the antagonist. I learned this when I was given my script. Everyone else learned it as they read the script notes. It was the first time since I’ve started working on audio dramas that I’ve been put in this position, and it turned out to be an experience.

For a few years in and around grad school, I was involved with a couple of LARP groups. In one, I was a PC (a player character), but I also was often in what amounted in that group to the Storyteller position so I usually knew what was going on in a game session. In the other, I was an NPC. I had no idea what I would be playing until I got to the game site, and within minutes of arriving would learn the entire story and my role within that session. And before I got involved with LARPing, I played tabletop RPGs, in one case playing a character designed by a GM (game master) because he needed the character for his story and thought it would be more interesting if I played her instead of allowing her to be an NPC. As a result, I had some information my character wasn’t expected to know any time soon. So, I’ve spent a lot of time playing characters with out-of-game knowledge of where the story and the character were headed.

Out-of game knowledge, where a player knows what’s going to happen in a game before it does, can be a useful tool for a voice actor or it can be a total nightmare. As I said, I’m used to playing LARP characters with out-of-game knowledge in my possession, and I’d like to think I’ve done a reasonable job of not mucking things up too much. But I’ve known players who couldn’t handle the responsibility too well, and have really trashed a game session because they were desperate to benefit from their out-of-game knowledge. One time, I was in two different games with the same player who had out-of-game knowledge in both games. His inability to manage things finally led to a lot of, “Does his character actually know this? Can we actually act on what he just said?” in both games, and the games folded soon after because of him.

So, I sat there, script in hand, starting to record my lines, with this little voice in my head every single take: Remember, you’re really the bad guy. It was something I never had to deal with as a gamer, and I found it very distracting as a voice actor. Like this little voice was telling me to “cheat”, even though it was really just telling me to play the role correctly. It made for a very interesting, very nostalgic morning.

The second part of the audio drama posted yesterday, just in time for World Audio Drama Day. Enjoy!

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