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Metaverse, Mocap & Mocktails: 5 Key Takeaways from GDC 2023

Now that we’ve collected our thoughts (and our sanity) after this year’s Games Developers Conference (GDC), BRAVA founder Melissa Thom, writes about the experience and shares her 5 key takeaways for voice actors.

Credit: Department of Business & Trade

I was thrilled to represent BRAVA at GDC 2023, as part of the UK Government’s Department for Business and Trade (DBT) Games Mission. We joined over 45 companies including Aardman, Ultraleap and Green Man Gaming, for a chance to talk to game devs, audio directors and content producers about the current industry and showcase our skilled voice talent. Here are a few takeaways from the event for voice actors:

1. Embrace technology

With the increasing use of AI and other technologies in the industry, it's important for voice actors to stay up-to-date on the latest news, tools and software that can help them improve their craft, stay competitive and keep on top of any potential impact on their career. This year there was much talk of the Metaverse. We met up with VP of LucasFilm Games, Douglas Reilly, who assured us nobody quite knows what the Metaverse is yet - phew. But if you really want to know more, CEO of Epic Games, Tim Sweeney, gave the GDC keynote speech and defined the Metaverse as:

‘An online social entertainment experience in a real-time 3D setting.’

That’s that settled then. But for the curious among us, it’s definitely worth reading his interview with the Verge he gave right after his speech on how the Metaverse might actually work.

2. Network

Thanks to the incredible work of DBT, we were provided with a beautiful workspace to base ourselves from at Werkwise, 2 mins from the conference, as well as the opportunity to meet a whole host of people. We loved catching up with industry stalwarts, Reillly, Randall Ryan, Gillian Brashear and Adele Roberts and met many other games creators, publishers and directors. And there were the renegades too (our favourites) - hi-fives to the amazing team at Experience 12 for taking me under their wing and showing me the ropes.

Events like GDC are an excellent opportunity to meet and connect with other industry professionals, including voice directors, casting agents, game devs and other actors. You don't always have to talk shop - in fact it’s best when you just spend time together having a laugh or asking people lots of questions. Taking advantage of these opportunities to build relationships and expand your network will yield positive, long-term results for your business.

3. Stay creative & curious

Listening to others is key. We went along to some talks about the creative process of working with VO in games. The best one was given by Maize Wallin and Tfer Newsome, audio directors from Ghost Pattern. They were funny, engaging and insightful, whilst sharing their story of creating the voiceover for their heartfelt narrative-driven interactive story, Wayward Strands.

Written over more than five years, the game contains a significant amount of voiceover: 20,000 lines of interactive dialogue between characters, recorded by 14 actors, across 4 studios around the world, over the course of 30+ days.The conversations around how to achieve this mammoth task were central to the success of bringing the game to life. VO is so often on the chopping block due to time and budget. But getting the casting right, providing detailed character descriptions and backstories, giving clear direction and feedback, allowing improvisation from the actors and incorporating them into the game from the beginning were all ways in which they made it work. I was pleased to hear them talk of how to look after their voice actors, given the complex non-linear nature of the script, and how impressed they were at the voice actors’ stamina (yes, we can go for ages).

In fact, Ghost Pattern sound like DREAM CLIENTS. My experience has been like this for some games clients, but certainly not all. Confidence in your craft, being flexible and giving your very best performance, despite the limitations is really key. Events like GDC are a great opportunity to get inspired and stay connected to the creative side of the industry and listen to people you might not otherwise get the chance to. It might spark something for you that you hadn’t thought of before or just deepen your knowledge of the craft.

4. Be versatile

As the industry evolves, it's important for voice actors to be able to adapt to new trends and styles. This may mean developing new voices, accents, or character types, or being open to new mediums such as VR and augmented reality, as well as the increased need for additional skill sets. We asked Reilly what his advice was to voice actors when thinking about the need to future-proof their careers and he spoke of the continued importance of Performance Capture for voice actors to expand their opportunities, as more games and other entertainment mediums adopt the technology.

5. Invest in your craft

There’s no doubt that those we spoke to were impressed with the quality of our voice actors and the range of training BRAVA offered. We’re so grateful for the opportunity to talk to so many potential clients and partners, which has led to us continuing those conversations back in the UK. As with any profession, investing time and resources into improving your skills and knowledge can pay off in the long run. Take that acting class, attend a workshop or call your coach to continue honing your craft. Plus it’s good for the soul - something that needed a little nurturing when I got back from the intense, but brilliant week at GDC.

Last Word

A huge thank you to the team at DBT for their support - an incredible group of people both here in the U.K. and in the U.S. We couldn’t have done it without you.

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