Video games have connected us in various ways throughout their history. Competing in the arcades, playing with family and friends, sharing cheat codes, and gaming online all come to mind. Games help us find a community that makes us feel connected to our peers in a world where most of us are trying to find a place to belong.
The modern world is so connected and disconnected at the same time. The amount of people who feel lonely or have no friends is staggering. More than ever, we need to support each other in a pandemic-stricken world. Gaming communities are one way we can reach out and bond with one another. Fortunately, there's another way we can connect to each other through video games.
Thanks to social media platforms like Twitter, Twitch or YouTube, we can reach out to some of the creators of the latest video games. Of course, this can lead to people sending horrible and toxic messages around. However, when I see the positive interactions online, my heart is always warmed.
I remember reaching out to voice actors in my early days on Twitter, asking them questions like 'Which character has been your favorite to voice and why?' My Twitter notifications would blow up with all these amazing responses. More recently, it's been my pleasure to see motion capture and voice actors from video games reaching out to the communities of the games they work on.
Aerith voice actor Briana White played through Final Fantasy VII Remake on her Twitch channel TheStrangeRebel. She even posted her first experiences with the original title, joined by Barett voice actor John Eric Bentley. Seeing her react to her scenes with Aerith is certainly emotional and quite special. Hearing yourself in a popular video game must be a surreal experience.
Many of the other voice actors have gone to conventions or have reached out online as well such as Gideon Emery (Biggs), Erica Lindbeck (Jessie) and Britt Baron (Tifa). I will be interested to see if any of the Intergrade cast reach out to the community as well.
The casts of the latest Resident Evil remakes have made a concerted effort to connect with the community. Nick Apostolides (Leon), Stephanie Panisello (Claire) and Jolene Andersen (Ada) have gone to conventions and collaborated with YouTubers to hang out and chat with one another while answering fan questions.
Nick and Stephanie both streamed their first experiences playing Resident Evil 2 remake on YouTube and Twitch, respectively. Nicole Tompkins (Jill) has played through Resident Evil 3 on her Twitch channel NicoleTompkins with fellow actors Jeff Schine (Carlos) and Neil Newbon (Nikolai).
Afterwards, she played through previous games like Resident Evil 2 with the actors joining her as guests. Recently Resident Evil Village's cast members have joined in on the community bonding. Seeing all these actors reaching out to their fans has provided a level of comradery I never could have imagined in the past.
In 2016, the official Sonic The Hedgehog Twitter account was 'taken over' by series villain Dr. Eggman. Eggman actor Mike Pollock vocally answered various questions from fans in-character! A day or two later, 'Sonic' kicked him off the account. The experiment led to a fun trend in the coming years.
Eggman came back to answer more questions in 2017 with Sonic joining him, voiced by Roger Craig Smith. Shadow the Hedgehog, voiced by Kirk Thornton, joined the duo in 2018. The hilarity stepped up a notch with the inclusion of Tails in 2019, voiced by Colleen O'Shaughnessey.
The fanbase had an absolute blast interacting with the characters in this way and were always excited for the next one. These efforts are far from the only interactions the voice actors have had with the community but they are some of the most notable and exciting.
Whether it's listening to Ashley Johnson talk about the impact The Last of Us' Ellie has made or watching the Retro Replay channel on YouTube featuring Nolan North, being connected to the creatives behind our favorite games is such a special experience. It's an absolute pleasure that we can take for granted at times. Just imagine if we could've interacted with the creatives behind our favorite games years ago!