Voices play a huge role in our lives. A voice can define how confident someone is and how they feel. But also where they are from. What this means though is that basically everyone is the world is from America. Even the Japanese. And despite this being how media in general has worked for quite a while now, there is even less variety of voice in games compared to TV and film.
But Final Fantasy XIII shows us how all those other English accents can be put to use via a very simple world building too. When playing FFXIII I was very surprised and off put but the presence of Australian voices in the game. Despite being my own nationality, I am not used to hearing my own accent in games or the media in general outside of Australian produced shows and media, where as many programs or media will get an Americanised dub when released to the world. But here was a game that had Australian accents, and gave all the people Pulse, a planet in Final Fantasy XIII, these accents.
This clear difference in voice instantly sets apart the 2 fractions of FFXIII, Pulse and Cocoon. Rather than using different American accents they decided to go with Australia. Probably to avoid all the strong associations strong american accents such as Texan ones would have had as well as avoiding the other obvious choice of British accents, which are strongly associated by the non British to be upper class overall.
The Australian voice give the 2 party members using it, Fang and Vannile, a distinct separation from the party’s overall voice, backs up the separate culture and experience they would have had, and also sets them as the more natural characters with the ‘earthy’ Australian accents. Here is a quite comparison shot
Despite both of them being that belt and zipper fashion model style Tetsuya Nomura loves so much, Fang’s character shows much more restraint in terms of that modern silliness, and is complete with a natural hair colour. Fang’s weapon is also much less sci fi than most of the cast at least in design, although it’s hardly normal it has direct connotations to a more tribal nature. As does her robe, which as opposed to being tight fitting clothes, is mainly that blue cloth draped over her like a fashionable toga or something.
With all that, for me, the deal of Fang and Vannile being from a different world was sealed by the accent. They shared a language, but have had history separate their cultures for long enough that a distinct separate accent could develop. Now, if only FFXIII could actually explain more of it’s world rather than just our characters…
If you’d like to discuss anything brought up in this post. Post your comments in the forums here! We don’t require any longterm signing up so go for it!
Next week, hopefully I won’t be talking about Japanese RPGs…