The Most Prolific Video Game Voice Actors «

The other day someone was talking about Nolan North, which not many people seem to be able to do without complaining about him. It got me thinking about the gulf that exists between some of the most recognizable voices in our games, and the ones we hear the most often. Nolan North is one of the few who manages to be both, but it’s a broad spectrum. I thought I’d run down a quick list of the notable actors that come to mind, not in terms of best or worst, but starting with the ones I feel are easiest to recognize, and ending with the ones who actually appear in the most titles. Those two things aren’t mutually exclusive concepts, but it’s kind of startling how much they seem to form a spectrum.

 

David Hayter

David Hayter

If there’s a spectrum of prolific vs. recognizable, David Hayter exists on the furthest end. He’s best known for his gravel gargling performances as Solid Snake, probably on account of that’s very nearly the only videogame role he’s ever taken up. His voice is inextricably knotted up with the one character, to the point where hearing him as anyone else would be just too weird. Hayter pretty much is Snake at this point, and it’s actually disorienting to hear his normal speaking voice; It’s like someone finally gave Snake a much needed throat drop. Most everyone else on this list shows a ridiculously broad range, and the most prolific have such malleable voices that you’ve probably heard them dozens of times without realizing that it’s the same person, but Hayter has made himself a household name simply by playing one single character really, really well. And no, Naked Snake doesn’t count as a separate character. Stop being pedantic.

John DiMaggio

John DiMaggio

He’s the Juggernaut, bitch. He’s also Gears of War’s Marcus Fenix, Destroyer from Hulk: Ultimate Destruction, Madworld commentator Kreese Kreely, FFX’s Wakka, the voice of Halo’s Brutes, a fistful of random thugs in Yakuza, and outside of videogameland we probably know him best as Futurama’s Bender. That’s actually a pretty broad range, but if all his characters have anything in common it’s a basic, blue collar, no-fucking-around attitude and just enough of a hint of Jersey accent to make it believable. Whether he’s a lovable rogue or a brutish thug, DiMaggio is the man you go to when you need a toughguy.

Michael Bell

Michael Bell

Bell has been doing voice work for a very, very long time. Remember Superfriends? He was Gleek the purple monkey. The Smurfs? He was the voice of half of the little blue bastards. He gave his voice to a whole mess of characters in GI Joe, Transformers, Inhumanoids, and honestly contributed so many voices to so many 70s, 80s, and 90s cartoons that the barest summary of his career would take all day to read. I probably heard more of his voice while growing up than I did my own father’s. He’s been doing shit for longer than most of us have been alive. Hell, he’s been doing this for longer than some of our parents have been alive. And that’s not even touching on his videogame work.

He’s probably best known for his role as Raziel in the Soul Reaver games, but you’ll find him cropping up as The Fear in Metal Gear Solid 3, Lawrence in Ratchet and Clank, Nilithak in Diablo II, and just an absolute shitload of random characters and additional voices in everything from Fatal Frame to Fallout. Even better, he once famously commented that voice acting work “is like having a twelve-inch penis, it’s no good unless you can keep it hard.” So, yeah. He’s pretty much officially my favorite living human being for that.

Cam Clarke

Cam Clarke

Another veteran of the cartoons you probably grew up with, Cam was both Leonardo and Rocksteady in Ninja Turtles and Die Fledermaus of The Tick. Occasionally he gets to break out a bit, but the voices he does most often could be best described as whiny, poncey, or some combination of the two. Which is no slight against Cam. In fact, he’s perfect for rotten princes, sniveling underlings, and snotnose villain characters like Liquid Snake. I still remember him best as Leonardo, though, and that Hind-D scene left me wondering the whole time why someone gave a helicopter to a ninja turtle. You might also recognize him as the voice of the male Blood Elves in World of Warcraft, what seems like half the incidental characters in the Dragon Age games, and maybe even supremely tripped out cultist Andrei Ulmeyda in Killer7. He’s versatile, but seems to work best as an entertainingly annoying badguy who you can feel really good about punching off of something tall by the end of the game.

Paul Eiding

Paul Eiding

Eiding’s authoritative voice is most often heard as either a kindly older man or menacing otherworldly evil. On one end he’s been the voice of Starcraft II’s Overmind, Diablo II’s Mephisto, and God of War’s Zeus, and on the other he’s been Eternal Darkness’s Paul Luther and Metal Gear Solid’s Col. Roy Campbell (who could also count as a kind of otherworldly evil by the end of MGS2. I need scissors! 61!) The only thing more impressive than his range of videogame work is what a comparatively minor portion of his career it represents. Eiding’s worked on the big screen, small screen, and stage since the early 80s. Also, he’s yet another guy on this list who played several Transformers back when we were kids. Remember the nerdy one who turned into a microscope? That was Paul Eiding.

Jennifer Hale

Jennifer Hale

With over a hundred roles in games so far Jennifer Hale is easily both the most prolific and most recognizable female voice actor out there. She’s voiced central characters like Bastila Shan in Knights of the Old Republic, Naomi Hunter in Metal Gear, and delivers what I consider to be the more engaging performance as one of the two possible Commander Shepards in Mass Effect. Meanwhile, she isn’t above roles as minor as “Citizen #3” in games like Ghost of Sparta. It’s almost easier to name the games she hasn’t contributed something to. I’m actually surprised to discover that she was also Samus in the Metroid Prime games, and while I prefer my Metroid to be mostly free of plot and chatter I can’t help wishing she’d got some actual lines there.

 

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