Hellblade studio replaces actors with AI and it’s not the only one

Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice (NS) - another awesome tech boost for the Switch

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice – we’ve seen it in movies and on TV before, now AI players are coming to video games (Picture: Team Ninja)

The likes of Ninja Theory are already experimenting with AI-generated voice acting and professional actors are understandably worried about it.

Being a voice actor, not just for video games but in general, isn’t nearly as glamorous as you might think. Unlike big Hollywood actors, voice actors tend to be seen as more easily replaceable.

We have already seen it dozens of times in the past. The titular character of Bayonetta 3 appears to have been recast though its original actress is still available to reprise the role, and John DiMaggio was nearly replaced as the voice of Bender in the Futurama revival because he asked for more money.

Now actors have to worry about being replaced not by another actor but by the AI. Not only does the technology to create or reproduce human voices exist, but some game studios have apparently already started using it.

A recent report highlighted a company called Altered AI, which provides businesses with the tools to create artificial voice performances without having to pay or work with an actual human.

Ninja Theory, the studio behind Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice and its upcoming sequel, is apparently one of Altered AI’s partners, but nothing else about their involvement is known.

Speaking to GLHF, Altered AI CEO and Founder Ioannis Agiomyrgiannakis evidently touted the technology as a positive and suggested that it’s not meant to replace real-life players.

“I never believed in human replacement,” he said. “What we create are tools that allow people to perform on their own. Game industry people use us for prototyping. When you have a dialogue, you have a level of imagination.

“But when you bring the dialogue to the voice actors, it comes back and doesn’t feel as dynamic as you wanted it to. So there is a gap between how the writer imagines the dialogue and how the dialogue unfolds. We provide an intermediate stage where they can prototype the dialogue and have a checkpoint before entering the studio.

That said, it’s very telling that the majority of companies that have partnered with Altered AI have clauses in their agreements that prevent said partnerships from being announced to the public. Almost as if they knew the very concept would be widely unpopular and subject to criticism.

Unsurprisingly, a number of voice actors have spoken out against the very idea of ​​AI dubbing, both in interviews with GLHF and on social media.

For example, Elias Toufexis, the voice of Adam Jensen from the Deus Ex games, claims that if this technology was used for background characters, it could prevent new talent from breaking into the industry since the voices of background are an entry point.

“The AI ​​works for minor game performance, but it still doesn’t work for real world performance,” he said. ‘If they need it to ‘grenade!’ and ‘come down!’ in Call of Duty-like games, it’s fine. This is going to hurt a bunch of new voice actors, because it’s a window for a lot of us.

However, Altered AI didn’t just make their voice from scratch. Someone had to provide them in the first place, so they could be modified to meet a client’s needs.

Apparently, the company has a library of 20 professional actors, though all of their identities are anonymous, even to the company itself.

It’s like how Troy Baker, easily one of the most notable actors in the business, lent his support to an AI voice system that wanted to sell actors’ voices as NFTs that could be used for independent projects.

The whole thing drew considerable backlash and Baker eventually walked away from it, but there are clearly enough players willing to support the possibility of a future where video game performances are done by a robot that looks like them.

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MORE: Company NFT Voiceverse admits stealing work after announcing Troy Baker deal

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