Rockstar Uses Actual Gang Members for GTA V Voice Acting

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Rockstar Uses Actual Gang Members for GTA V Voice Acting

Grand Theft Auto V screen

Rockstar is making Grand Theft Auto V as authentic as possible - up to and including sourcing its voice acting to real gang members right off the street.

Grand Theft Auto V will drop players into a dangerous world of vice and crime, and Rockstar wants that experience to be as authentic as it can possibly be (short of taking up bank robbery). To that end, when you hear the gangsters of Los Santos speaking, you'll be hearing the voices of "actual, real gang members" delivering lines in the same way they'd speak naturally.

Contributing writer and in-game DJ "Lazlow" Jones says that Rockstar hired a specialist to find members of criminal gangs, "like El Salvadorian gang dudes with amazing tattoos, one of which had literally gotten out of prison the day before," to record lines. "We don't want a goofy L.A. actor who went to a fancy school trying to be a hard gang member," Jones says. "There's nothing worse than that, so just go find the terrifying people and say 'can you come in here please?'"

Of course, just having realistic delivery doesn't mean much if the script isn't believable. The voice acting sessions were flexible, with the written lines often being discarded in favor of more natural dialogue from the "actors." "They look at the lines and say, 'I wouldn't say that,'" Jones explains. "So we say, 'Okay, say what you would say.'"

Grand Theft Auto V will be delivering its authentic criminal experience with a worldwide release on September 17.

Source: WGN, via Polygon

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As a game developer I don't think it a great idea/ethical to support criminal gangs. Reformed gang members I would probably be ok with, but taking actual criminals is another.

I really hope this is some sort of joke. Real gang members? Seriously?

Boy! I'm sure the money that these gang members received for their voice acting talent is going straight to charity!

I really don't understand how a person can morally do this.

Like Baldr said, reformed gang members are understandable, but actual criminals are a little ridiculous.

Aside from the whole "supporting gang members" thing, there's the "authencity" thing that's bugging me quite a lot. This might end up putting a damper on the gameplay just like the realism in GTA IV.

I wasn't very excited for GTA V to begin with[1], so it'll probably exceed my expectations (maybe even like Far Cry 3 did, who knows). For most other people, this game will probably be a gigantic letdown.

Well, I guess this news might have gotten them a few new members of the hype train.

[1] Ever since the info came out that they originally had no intent to release a PC version, and the fact that Rockstar Games PC versions of things have generally been quite shit for a couple of years now.

I can just picture a gangster right out of prison, walking in slow motion right into Rockstar Studios, gaining a wingman on either side incrementally, then all of them to be flanked by swat as they enter the recording booth. XD

So not only is Grand Theft Auto V looking, in my opinion, to be one of the best games of the year, it's also going to be more authentic than Medal of Honor: Warfighter. Woohoo.

In all seriousness, I'm not really sure what to think about Rockstar using current criminals as voice actors. I know that there might be something wrong, but I can't really think of any reason why, outside of the fact that they, you know, did something that got them into prison. Okay, yeah, they'd probably use the money for... something. I don't know what. I've never been in a gang, and I haven't asked my family members who have anything about it. I'd appreciate further explanation of this from anyone who knows anything.

Why shouldn't they offer a legal alternative to making money? How is a person supposed to change if you don't provide a means for them to do so?

Stars like Danny Trejo seem to indicate that offering legitimate employment is potentially life changing and/or saving.

alphamalet:
I really hope this is some sort of joke. Real gang members? Seriously?

Boy! I'm sure the money that these gang members received for their voice acting talent is going straight to charity!

I really don't understand how a person can morally doing this.

Like Baldr said, reformed gang members is understandable, but actual criminals is a little ridiculous.

I don't understand the issue, personally. I doubt most regular voice actors give much of their income to charity either.

OT: I'd be interested to see how well this actually works. I always assumed that people without acting skill/experience would give an unconvincing performance even if asked to do something they were already familiar with (I know I probably would), otherwise wouldn't most roles be better filled by non-actors?

"We don't want a goofy L.A. actor who went to a fancy school trying to be a hard gang member," Jones says. "There's nothing worse than that, so just go find the terrifying people and say 'can you come in here please?'"

Makes perfect sense.

There's nothing worse than having a trained/educated/experienced voice actor act. That would be terrible, I'm sure hiring an untrained person off the street to act (yes, they're still gonna have to act even if they're authentic, and if they can't act, you're shit outta luck). Somebody who knows nothing about the job and has never attempted to voice act before is sure to be perfect for a game.

/sarcasm

It doesn't really bother me that much, except for that one little "nothing could be worse" jab. It was perfectly fine for literally every other voiced GTA games to not have real gang members acting, but suddenly, for the fifth one, nothing could be worse than using actual voice actors.

Is that...is that even legal? I'm not sure.

It's one thing to have authentic delivery and feeling for people that have lived the life, but why not reformed gang members as mentioned previously?

Of all the things the non-gaming public can get pissed off at games about, this is one of the more valid ones (if it's true in the way I'm thinking). The violence and actions in this and all other games is fake. Fantasy. But this kinda steps passed that line and has a more direct impact on real life. GTA4 didn't force that kid or anyone else to shoot people, but where are the dollars from Rockstar going to after they pay these dudes?

I'm with the sentiment of the other posters. I hope this is a joke, lie, reformed gang members, some elaborate stunt, or something else that isn't being told in this story. Not like I was going to buy GTA5 anyways, but I don't think I'm ok with this.

Raggedstar:
Is that...is that even legal? I'm not sure.

It's one thing to have authentic delivery and feeling for people that have lived the life, but why not reformed gang members as mentioned previously?

Of all the things the non-gaming public can get pissed off at games about, this is one of the more valid ones (if it's true in the way I'm thinking). The violence and actions in this and all other games is fake. Fantasy. But this kinda steps passed that line and has a more direct impact on real life. GTA4 didn't force that kid or anyone else to shoot people, but where are the dollars from Rockstar going to after they pay these dudes?

I'm with the sentiment of the other posters. I hope this is a joke, lie, reformed gang members, some elaborate stunt, or something else that isn't being told in this story. Not like I was going to buy GTA5 anyways, but I don't think I'm ok with this.

Of course its legal, why the hell wouldnt it be? As far as I know, voice acting is a legal job.

I actually don't want to buy the game now.

Wow, well done Rockstar, you found a way to fornicate the canine. I just can't support giving money to gang members, and though I can't quite believe I'm saying this - I won't buy GTA V as a direct result of this.

All I can think of is the scene from Tropic Thunder.

Yeah, the whole real gang thing is far from a good idea.

Raggedstar:
Is that...is that even legal? I'm not sure.

Why wouldn't it be?

I think this is a good idea. Hell, maybe some of these guys might take up voice acting or real acting, as a result. There's plenty of low-budget projects that could use their authenticity in acting or as consultants in the same way that military consultants do on other movies. Imagine the raw possibilities that could come with that.

Now let's see the media blame GTA for inspiring kids to become voice actors.

Because criminals should be condemned for life and ostracized from society, and it's morally wrong to offer them legitimate employment!

Truly the Elizabethans were correct in mutilating vagrants to indicate their crimes as well as making it illegal to give them shelter. That is the standard we should follow!

Feels like I'm the only person out there that's liking this move Rockstar is making.

Sure, it's hella-risky, but I'm all for having the most authentic crime game they can make. I'd venture to say that plenty of gang members loved the heck out of San Andreas and have some love for Rockstar, as their reach is pretty broad. And I bet any gang banger or hustler worth his weight in cocaine would love to play a part of the next big GTA game.

Anyway, I think this is neat. I can't wait for the game.

I'd rather have the real deal if it makes for a better game. Ambient dialogue and fully fleshed side characters are difficult to nail in open-world game design, and I'm all for the direction Rockstar is taking.

The "supporting criminal activity" tangent on this thread sounds like a load of bull. That money is not directly funding narcotics rings or chop shops. It goes into the pockets of individuals, and what they do with it is their business. Yeah, someone could take their cut and blow it on booze. Or they could clean themselves up and pursue voice work professionally. New career opportunities and a legitimate source of income could be just what someone needs to move up in life.

Not guaranteed. But it's a start, and that's more than most people can get.

So I don't know if anyone else feels like this, but I don't want authentic gang life. Authentic gang life is psychopaths causing very real and traumatic pain to other people and themselves.

Great for authenticity but I despise gang members growing up around them and having to deal with their kind, so knowing they were probably paid a pretty penny for their work while trained voice actors lost out on potential jobs all in the sake of authenticity kind of rustles my jimmies. Won't stop me from trying GTA out anyways but still.

I am confused. How is it a bad thing to offer someone legitimate employment? It's not encouraging kids to become gang members, because how the hell could anyone see this opportunity coming?

I'm really interested to see how this turns out.

This is a trick, they are going to give these gang members real money that they would have to pay taxes on, and when they don't pay it, they will get them off the streets for it.

I don't really have a problem with this. Is it a risky move? Yes. Can I see why people may be upset? Yes. Is it possible that the performances we get would be worse than with a trained actor? Yes. Does it really matter to me? No, not really. I can't really say why, just when I hear this story I don't get upset at it or start to curse Rockstar for doing such a thing. It's not something that makes me go "See, THIS is why Rockstar is the true driving force behind this industry!" it honestly just gets a neutral reaction from me (aside maybe from the "Neat" that comes with any news I guess)

If they're not used to voice acting, I can't see this turning out well. I don't care if they're actually acting and just saying what they usually say, that hardly ever works in a scripted environment.

I find it fascinating that the vast majority of these comments so merrily rebuke Rockstar for providing legitimate, albeit temporary employment to a segment of the population rife with poverty, affording them resume building work experience and exposure to potential careers outside of the realm of sanitation or fast food retail, for shame.

This is especially puzzling when their are plenty of valid complaints that could be leveled at Rockstar. For one, why make 'certified gang member' a prerequisite for employment? Gangs rarely invent their own speech patterns, those patterns are merely indicative of the areas from which they draw their membership. Why not go straight to the source and hire a handful of young men from whichever area they're trying to emulate. Perhaps some of those men are affiliated with an active gang, a great many of them aren't, their speech patterns and vernacular wont vary a great deal. In fact, let's recall for a moment that Rockstar is hardly some beneficent entity reaching out to the impoverished, and that their main concern is "authenticity." If that's the case, using reformed prisoners (depending on length of sentence) would not yield the desired effect. Prisons contain their own pressure cooked microcultures, and while gang sub-cultures naturally glean from prison culture, the two do not directly equate.

Of course, perhaps looking too deeply into Rockstar's search for 'authenticity' makes folk uncomfortable. Perhaps people are starting to realize that taking the very worse of blaxploitation and mexploitation, grinding them into a fine powder, sifting it together with a liberal sprinkling of italian mob cliches and snorting them off the thighs of a ten dollar hooker who's got kids to feed is perhaps just a little fucked up.

But no, that would imply the maturation of the consumer base, and that can go fuck all kinds of duck.

I really hope this blows back in Rockstars face, such a terrible idea.

DJ "Lazlow" Jones

YEEEEEEESSSS.
All I needed to hear. Pre-Order time!

I'm having a hard time deciding what to think about this.

For one there is the quality of the voice acting. Just because someone is good at a job doesn't mean he's fit to be an actor playing a character having that job.

There's giving gang members a job. Well, they'll have some legal work which means that at least for a time they'll have something else to do than dealing drugs or fighting rival gangs for a time. What will happen to the money is a legitimate question though. Will it be invested in gang activities?

Oh well, if this game ever hits PC I might pick it up and a game really needs a controversy such as this in order to sell enough to meet standards.

Good. Give them some honest, easy money for a change, and maybe they can one day get themselves out of the whole gang business with their new skill, like one of the freaking main characters in the game.

Those of you saying that they shouldn't be employed...what other way are they supposed to reform themselves if no one will hire them because "Hurr funding gang activity"?

Sigh. Great. So Rockstar continues to support the fall of Western Civilization. Why does this not surprise me.

chadachada123:
Good. Give them some honest, easy money for a change, and maybe they can one day get themselves out of the whole gang business with their new skill, like one of the freaking main characters in the game.

Those of you saying that they shouldn't be employed...what other way are they supposed to reform themselves if no one will hire them because "Hurr funding gang activity"?

I'm with you I don't see why everybody's hating you all sound like you grew up in gated communities.
Maybe they can go a week without making crack and just peacefully smoke blunts with their crew or whatever they'll do.
Many people turn to this life because of unemployment so even a short job is great.
Plus I'd rather it be like "Fuck you I'll spray you, bust, whatever"-real g than "Oh ya boy ya imma pull my gat now urrgh im so g"-guy that's never seen the hood

alphamalet:
I really hope this is some sort of joke. Real gang members? Seriously?

Boy! I'm sure the money that these gang members received for their voice acting talent is going straight to charity!

I really don't understand how a person can morally do this.

Like Baldr said, reformed gang members are understandable, but actual criminals are a little ridiculous.

Would you rather those gang members be out on the streets and earning their income illegally then? Even if they're going back out there to do that, I think it's damn great that for a short while they earned their pay by working legally.

Seriously, just because someone has committed a crime in the past it shouldn't exclude them from being able to earn a living in a respectable manner. This might be exactly what some of those members needed to convince them they can still go and find legitimate employment because generally, people often turn to crime as a last option.

Not every person that does bad things is a bad person, they're usually just desperate. Grow up and pull your head out of the sand. The world isn't all black and white.

Oh and about the charity comment, I've been employed since the age of 14 and 9 months and live fairly well and not a damn cent of mine has gone to charity.

GoaThief:
Why shouldn't they offer a legal alternative to making money? How is a person supposed to change if you don't provide a means for them to do so?

Stars like Danny Trejo seem to indicate that offering legitimate employment is potentially life changing and/or saving.

I was a bit iffy about this but I never thought of it like that. Makes a lot of sense, like several successful jails do to make criminals normal citizens again.

Hope they can deliver lines though.

This is nothing new. The entertainment industry has consulted criminals numerous times for insight and authenticity in films and TV. Are we only allowed to call upon criminals when we're trying to make documentaries about how sad their lives are? Does being a criminal make you an awful person? IMHO, that depends on the crime and the intent.

Anyway, I hope they spend enough time recording so that they have plenty of dialogue to keep the NPC criminals from sounding like NPCs. It's one thing to go for authentic phrases from real criminals but if a handful of computer-generated thugs are all spouting that same recorded phrase it quickly loses whatever piece of authenticity you were aiming for.

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