If you have played any popular video game in the last decade there’s a decent chance you’ve heard the voice of Troy Baker. Perhaps a testament to his talent many of us may have heard him countless times without connecting the dots. I have played games where he voices the protagonist and not recognised his voice. One of the things that still amazes me about voice acting is how one person can have such a wide array of voices. In many ways, he is the perfect example of how video game voice acting is often underappreciated, nowadays many voice actors are even expected to provide acting for motion capture as well as voice acting. Currently, he is quoted as appearing in 429 roles; could you imagine a TV or movie actor that prolific not being widely known?
Despite being best known for working on popular video games his start was dubbing anime for American company Funimation, before moving onto other cartoons and anime video games. What is interesting is that Baker seemingly had no breakthrough moment, his work was solid and consistent and he worked his way up to be one of the premier voice actors. The year that cemented his popularity best of all, however, was 2013, where he voiced both Booker DeWitt, in Bioshock Infinite, and Joel, in the even more hugely popular game The Last of Us.
Joel is, by and large, his most popular role. Developed by Naughty Dog, The Last of Us is well known as an exceptionally well-written game that demanded a wide range of emotion from its characters, and most of all from its central character Joel. Added onto this the fact that the game mo-capped its actors meant that the role was not merely voice acting, but full-blown acting that was performed in real life and put into the game. In terms of what it demanded from its actors, it was far greater than many other games at that time, and perhaps even today. But, nowadays such techniques are far more common. Troy Baker, along with many of his contemporaries, managed to establish voice acting as an integral part of video games. That voice acting was not just a throwaway job, where you would hire whoever was cheapest to read out a threadbare script, but a vital part of a well-crafted story.
In many ways from then on, he was a household name in the gaming community. What has cemented his popularity is his attitude to his work and the fans. While many actors tend to have a bad reputation for being condescending and preachy, voice actors tend to maintain quite the opposite reputation. Troy Baker, often alongside his close friend and seasoned voice actor Nolan North, spend a lot of time attending conventions and meeting fans. If you read interviews with Troy Baker or any other popular voice actor, you do see the genuine enthusiasm many of these people have towards their work. He has even talked of getting involved in games that interest him, but would not normally be able to afford him, similar to film actors working in indie films. Troy Baker has also talked of his interest in the Uncharted franchise before he had properly gotten into video game voice acting, he was a fan of Nolan North before he became friends with him. He would later go on to play North’s brother in Uncharted 4. I would suggest anyone reading this to go out and find a game you’ve played that Troy Baker has appeared in that you were completely unaware of. There’ll definitely be at least a few, and you’ll appreciate the hard work that voice actors put into the games they work on.
Troy Baker reprises his role as Joel in The Last of Us Part II out June 19th 2020