Video Game Performance Appreciation: Courtenay Taylor

Video Game Performance Appreciation: Courtenay Taylor

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Courtenay Taylor

OnFiction

It’s difficult to say what Courtenay Taylor is “best known” for; her credits span years and include some of the most famous game franchises around. She has become nothing less than an icon in the business. Her resume is so vast, there’s no chance of mentioning every one of her projects that every gamer holds dear. If you’ve played a video game in the 21st century, chances are good you’ve heard her voice. Her earliest credits go back to 2002 when she voiced a judge in the American Idol video game and “additional voices” in Star Trek: Starfleet Command III. Her career continued to pick up steam as she went on to appear in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (2003) and four more titles in 2004: Van Helsing, Everquest II, Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines, and Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. It wasn’t long before Taylor was voicing some truly legendary characters and in 2006, she was Wonder Woman in Justice League Heroes.

Courtenay Taylor

Sony/Snowblind Studios/Warner Brothers/DC

The role that brought her to the forefront for most gamers would likely be Jack in the Mass Effect series. Jack, the tough human biotic with a whole lot of attitude and a tortured soul. For women, Jack was a breath of fresh air – a kickass heroine who, for once, wasn’t hyper-sexualized or a damsel in distress waiting to be saved. Jack was aggressive, violent, and unafraid to dole out justice as she saw fit. The character’s vulnerabilities came in her romance with Shepard as she opens up about her past and the abuse she suffered. The character is real; she’s beautiful, flawed, a little bit unstable, and Taylor plays her to perfection.

Courtenay Taylor

Mass Effect/BioWare

Resident Evil fans know Taylor as Ada Wong, the ass-kicking industrial spy for The 3rd Organization. Wong, like Jack, is tough and knows how to handle herself in virtually any situation. She’s a mystery to those around her, never showing all of her cards, but always cool, calm, and collected. Her physical capabilities seem to surpass nearly every character in the series; she fights, shoots, flips, and performs elaborate parkour moves with ease, and all while wearing high heels.

If you played the female sole survivor in Fallout 4, you became intimately familiar with Taylor’s voice. Her low, distinctive rasp seems to effortlessly emanate genuine humor, raw emotion, sarcasm, joy, and anger. Her voice has a way of naturally pulling a player into the story and forming a connection. She makes you feel her torment, her sadness, and determination. And what’s unique about Fallout, as opposed to her many other projects, is that the voice you hear in the game is purely Courtenay Taylor and not a “fancy voice,” as she calls it. Fallout 4 is a game that proves, beyond a shadow of doubt, just how important voice actors can be to the success of a game. Without Taylor’s performance as an actress, would we have cared as much about the character’s life, about her son, her losses, or her survival? I would venture to say – probably not. We likely would have just powered through the game, leveling up, collecting bobble heads, and killing everything in sight. Instead, we were with her every step of the way, through every gut-wrenching decision, and maybe you even cried at times…I know I did. When I finished the main storyline, I felt like I’d gone separate ways with an old friend. I still feel the need to reconnect with her, to see how she’s rebuilding her life now that the Institute is gone, and how her relationship with MacCready is holding up. No video game character has ever stayed with me quite like the sole survivor of Fallout 4 and I know, with complete certainty, that is due to Taylor’s performance. Check the interview below to hear Courtenay talk more about her experience recording Fallout 4.

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Taylor’s upcoming projects include Firefly Online, an MMO based on the television show by Joss Whedon, where she voiced the female Captain alongside Wil Wheaton as her male counterpart. Unfortunately, the game seems to be lost in development purgatory. The developers, Spark Plug Games and Quantum Mechanics, have gone radio silent on the project, not issuing a public statement about the game in over a year. Taylor has spoken about the game in several interviews and it was public knowledge that many of the original cast of the show had already recorded guest appearances. She spoke to Female First about the game saying, “The game itself incorporates a lot of what you love from the series, the mixture of genres, I think the supporting cast is pretty fantastic and will help make the Firefly universe consistent with what fans have expected in the past. Spark Plug Games know they have this rich vein of material to mine and they’re taking their time and doing it right. They know how passionate the fanbase is for this game and they’re willing to take the time to come up with something that fans are gonna be really excited about.” Hopefully, the studio really is simply taking their time to make it right because it would be a crime to be deprived of soaring through the ‘Verse as a ballsy female Captain voiced by Taylor.

Courtenay Taylor’s accomplishments as a voice actress are truly epic. Hers is one of the many important voices that help tell the vital stories of women warriors, trailblazers, survivors, and rogues. Her voice is the one young girls will hear when they pick up a game controller for the first time and realize they can be the savior instead of the damsel, the brave adventurer traveling to the ends of the universe, and the woman with nerves of steel and the courage to face whatever the wasteland may throw at her.

You can currently catch Courtenay Taylor in Titanfall 2 available for XBox One and the indie gem, Masquerada: Song and Shadows, available for download on Steam. Which of Courtenay’s performances did you enjoy the most? Let us know in the comments below!

About author

Michelle Dawson

3D Artist and teacher by trade. Obsessive nerd, gamer, foodie, Whovian. I want to be Agent Carter when I grow up.