Feature: Nolan North – The Video Game Industry’s Leading Man

Have you ever wondered who the voice is behind your favourite video game character? I know I certainly have, it’s just a curiosity thing. You want to know if the voice actor looks like the in-game character, or if he/she has credits in other games, what they look like in real life and what games they’re going to be lending their larynx to next.

nolannorthmotioncaptureWith over one hundred voice credits to his name, chances are you’ve played a game featuring the vocal talents of North, chances being greater still that you didn’t even notice.

North’s voiced intrepid fortune hunter Nathan Drake in the Uncharted series, would-be assassin Desmond Miles in the Assassin’s Creed franchise, as well as smaller roles that you had no idea about. Did you know Nolan North voiced characters in Saints Row and Saints Row 2? He also lent his talents to Quantum of Solace, Halo 3 and LEGO Marvel Superheroes, to name a few.

The man is a machine. He doesn’t just take the big starring roles either. In Halo 3 he simply voiced a Marine whilst in Saints Row he is credited as “Various Voices,” just as he is in Metal Gear Solid 4.

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Many who played Naughty Dog’s critically-acclaimed post-apocalyptic thriller The Last of Us had no idea North had featured in the game. He did. Remember the character David, the creepy guy who Ellie is stuck with for a part of the game? That was North, easily disguising his own voice with one of the many in his repertoire of voices.

Dialogue has changed in video games, for the better too. Back in the industry’s formative years voice acting in games was non-existent, or extremely rare. The era of the PlayStation One and Nintendo 64 brought us the firsts real characters with voices instead of on-screen text, but even then the voice acting for the most part was terribly cheesy with very few voice artists dedicated to the medium.

These days voice actors are a critical part of a story driven game. Without the acting chops behind the digital characters all drama, romance and comedy is lost in the void. Some games still fall behind in this regard, whether it’s down to bad writing or poor acting it really does hurt a game.

North’s most famous character to date – Nathan Drake – will be making his fifth outing next year (Uncharted: Golden Abyss being the fourth, though not chronologically,) and North will be stepping into the boots, or the motion-capture suit more likely, to bring to life Naughty Dog’s poster boy.

We’re looking forward to hearing Nolan North quip some one-liners whilst in perilous danger in Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, as well as whatever upcoming projects the prolific actor is currently working on. Gaming’s closest thing to a leading man will be back, but you might not even realise it’s him.