So I’m one of those guys who, when he hears an accent, he can’t help but imitate it, usually immediately. For this reason, Lori usually leaves the room when I listen to the BBC World Service. I’m helpless to the cavalcade of accents: the twang of East London, the musical clip of broadcast-standard British, the smooth Glaswegian brogue, the irresistible Irish, the Yorkshire accent that ends every sentence like a question. Each time I hear one of those accents, I immediately start talking in that accent. Lori made up a term for this: Sudden Acquired Accent Syndrome.
It used to be that this was a straight-up annoyance. And, for all intents and purposes, it still is, but ever since I started doing voice acting for video games, all of that accent study has started to pay off.
Because voice over artists get paid by the session, producers will often try to have them do as many roles as possible during that allotted session. And most video games have casts of hundreds, or sometimes thousands, so if you can do a few different accents, it makes you pretty useful. I’ve played everyone from a German-accented town crier to a Northern Irish archer to an Edward R. Murrow sound-alike, complete with 1940s Mid-Atlantic accent.
I’m happy to have a session next week for a new video game, and I just learned I’m going to have to do a Minnesota accent for my role. Time to pop in “Fargo.” Watch out. My SAAS will be out in full effect.