AI-Generated Game Voices May Begin Costing Voice Actors Residual Fees
If you are a video game player and if you have a particular character that you love interacting with we may have some startling news for you from gamedeveloper.com.
It seems some high-end game developers have been using AI-driven voices instead of the voice actors you might have gotten used to. In what is being called ethically dicey, it’s been reported from Good Luck Have Fun that multiple triple-A game developers are using an AI program for voice acting in place of human talent. The company behind the technology is Altered AI, which contains a library of vocal performances, including around 20 professional voice actors.
Though it shares similarities with text-to-speech, which reads sentences back in audio, AI voice acting is considered more ethically dicey. As there are tools that can change a voice actor’s tone and voice type, there have been concerns that the technology could be used to supplant voice actors entirely.
And it’s not just the voice that is being copied and altered but the movements of the person portraying the game persona as well. But can there be a happy medium reached where both AI and human voices are used?
The argument has been made that voice AI is especially helpful for indie developers, and can be used in tandem with established voice actors. But both Horizon’s Ashly Burch and Yuri Lowenthal of Marvel’s Spider-Man argued that there are easier ways around this.
For Lowenthal, the worry is expressly about software like this being used to exploit actors’ talents in games that they otherwise wouldn’t be compensated for performing in.
“I know an actor who does a lot of performance capture and voice work and she has seen her very specific movement show up in games she never even worked on,” he said. “This is a scary precedent that has already been set, and I want to start a conversation with AI companies about how we could protect actors, and again, the ecosystem of storytelling.”
This article may not have much meaning in our day-to-day activities, but it is valuable as a cautionary insight. From food ordering at drive-throughs, to answering medical questions before being directed to medical departments, AI replacement of people is becoming far more commonplace than we may realize.
Video games have had a rocky relationship with voice acting, with US screen actors guild SAG-AFTRA going on strike in 2017 in the name of video game voice actors getting better pay and benefits. Several titles were noticeably affected during that strike, including the Life is Strange prequel Before the Storm and Mortal Kombat 11. A deal was eventually struck, which ends in November of this year.
Update: Developer Ninja Theory has clarified the extent of its partnership with Altered AI. The developer uses the technology for placeholder VO early in the development of its games. From there, it continued, human performers are brought in with the timing and placement from the placeholder VO used as a frame of reference.
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