The use of AI in the games industry is prevalent, with the likes of Ubisoft developing an AI writing tool, and its wider use for art and voice acting.
At last night’s BAFTA Games Awards, some actors spoke to Eurogamer about their skepticism about whether AI can truly replicate human actions and what impact it could have on the voice acting industry.
“It sends a little chill up my spine and I think we have to understand what AI is and get out in front of it, because – we see this from time to time – technology moves faster than the laws around it; said Jane Perry, the previous year’s performer in the role of ducal winner for playing Selene in Returnal .
“And the excitement of what AI can do, maybe it doesn’t allow us to see the pitfalls and appreciate the pitfalls. For voice players and for other games that have creative content, it’s the ability to take initiatives and creative work. So I think we just need to have conversations about it Let’s get started. AI is here to stay and has great potential in the sports industry and other industries, but we must proceed with caution and caution.”
Then she joked: “Everything I could say scares the shit out of me.”
Charlotte McBurney, best known for her role in Plague Tales: The Rest, felt the same way.
“Honestly, I think a lot of my voice acting colleagues are quite freaked out by the ability of people to be able to replicate their voices,” he told Eurogamer. “It feels like a little mermaid, having your voice taken away and reappropriated and put in another place.”
McBurney admitted that it will happen in some way, but he is concerned about his potential impact.
“It’s going to happen, that’s right, but there are ways to use it to our advantage. It’s fabulous if we can get a little bit back. I think you can still get to know the real voices of people and the real actions. I’m really hoping not to start with a beautiful thing, a flourishing industry that I feel as we are only beginning to fully embrace and celebrate the voice of acting talent.”
Both Manon Gage (nominated for Immortality) and Melissanthi Mahut (Kassandra in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, who won the award) noted that AI cannot replicate the humanity of real-world performance.
“What I’m slightly afraid of is that I don’t think I’ll ever get to the point where it sounds organic and natural enough and direct enough, or to give that sense of wonder or wonder that’s going to come out of you. Man,” Mahut said. “Yes, you can tweak it and you can perfect it and you can make it sound exactly like someone’s voice, but I hope you can never get an original reaction or an original effect of something.”
Gage said: “I think the sad thing right now is that AI, which seems to be happening, is taking away from artists across the board. I think actors are next. In the age of modern capitalism, it makes sense that this is where we are as a human being to make art, whether it’s a video game, a television show or a picture that I don’t know that a machine can achieve. Being in the sports world is an interesting place to be with what it is. It’s half a machine, but half is human.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 actor Alain Mesa was skeptical, but he thought AI could be cool, as long as it doesn’t affect him financially.
“I can’t tell you I’m not sure if AI has the type of emotions or history that the actors have — they can’t do it,” he said. “They can try and replicate those movements, but life is always changing, the actor I was ten years ago is not who I am today or who I will be in ten years. And I don’t think you can just be a computer program. I think it’s cool, I really know a lot of actors against it, but I just don’t think it really works. But if someone makes money from Alejandro without Alejandro’s voice, then wait. A minute!”
Troy Baker, meanwhile, wants to embrace AI, notes how it’s already been used in the game and wants to work on the side.
“It’s already done with AI,” he said. “It’s AI that’s how the NPCs work, the AI recognizes the input from the players responding to the program. As long as we understand it, we just use it while the medium is progressing and moving forward, I’m me. If my job can be replaced by AI, it will be, it’s up to me to prepare for it. I don’t want to fight stuff that’s going to happen. If there’s an easier way to do it, then that’s going to happen.
“I think that we as creators, like artists, are always evading information and technology in some way, so it is up to us to educate ourselves, to have a conversation with people who are looking to use these tools and how we experience it. It can continue to be a replaceable liability.”