Acclaimed video game voice actor Troy Baker was met with a huge deluge of backlash after he recently tweeted about his partnership with AI Voice NFT maker Voiceverse NFT.
Voiceverse is an AI company that, according to its website, seeks to “mint your voice” allowing its sophisticated AI to replicate it and allow it to be used and repurposed for “in-game chats, zoom calls, YouTube & TikTok”.
I’m partnering with @VoiceverseNFT to explore ways where together we might bring new tools to new creators to make new things, and allow everyone a chance to own & invest in the IP’s they create.
We all have a story to tell.
You can hate.
Or you can create.
What’ll it be? pic.twitter.com/cfDGi4q0AZ
— Troy Baker (@TroyBakerVA) January 14, 2022
Due to the recent controversy, it has also come to light that the company used stolen voicework from rival free-to-use AI voice firm, 15.ai in previous promotional tweets.
Unbelievable. They even pitched up the voice to intentionally make it sound unrecognizable from Rainbow Dash's original voice. https://t.co/frBOCnrCpx pic.twitter.com/m1Xz82AXZz
— 15 (@fifteenai) January 14, 2022
Troy Baker is the company’s latest partner alongside notable voice actors Andy Milonakis (Adventure Time) and Charlet Chung (Overwatch, Starcraft II)
Baker is an 18-year veteran of the video game voice acting industry, most notably known for his roles as The Joker (Batman Arkham Origins), Booker Dewitt (Bioshock), and Samuel Drake (Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End). He is seen as one of the industry’s brightest voice acting stars on par with the likes of Nolan North (Uncharted, Assassin’s Creed) and Jennifer Hale (Mass Effect, Halo).
Given his pedigree, much of the backlash was from fellow videogame voice actors that felt like Baker had betrayed their profession in offering the rights to his top-tier voice, taking jobs away from every other less established actor.
Another part of the controversial tweet that was negatively received was the “you can hate or you can create” phrase, which some respondents seemed to feel came off as dangerously dismissive to all criticism and discourse against NFTs and cryptocurrency.
NFTs and crypto have been a hot button topic in the past year and received by the mainstream with much hesitation and skepticism. As such, discussions both for and against the concept have been raging like a wildfire in today’s social consciousness as people make sense of their position in the new landscape.
Baker’s “You can hate or you can create” statement came off as waving off dissenting opinions as merely blind “hate”, a very dangerous, almost toxic stance to take.
Within hours of the tweet, Baker responded to the backlash, saying “I always want to be a part of the conversation, even if sometimes that finds me in the midst of a loud one.” At the time of this writing, this is Baker’s most recent update on the social media platform.
However, Baker’s most recent thoughts on the matter come from the Play Watch Listen podcast, of which he is one of the recurring hosts. In the episode, which was released one day after the backlash from the tweet, Baker is grilled by his fellow podcast hosts, former IGN games journalist Alanah Pearce, video game designer Mike Bithell, and videogame composter Austin Wintory — all of whom stand firmly against the concept of NFTs.
In the podcast, Baker states that he approached the project from an earnest well-meaning slant:
“This company came up to me and said ‘Hey we’re an AI company that’s creating text-to-speech but we wanted to make it so [it wouldn’t use] robo voices.
We also know that [a system like this] is typically a very bespoke boutique higher end tool that’s reserved for top tier studios and we want to make this available to independent creators and people who may not necessarily be able to afford that.
And we’re looking for people to be able to supply voices for that system, would you be interested in that?
And I was like ‘Yes!’”
Later he elaborates:
“The intention that I had behind this is like ‘Hey if somebody, if some independent game maker wants to have me in their game and they can’t afford me and they can do that now [with this] Great!’”
In response to the backlash, Voiceverse tweeted this statement ending with “We apologize if we made anyone feel threatened.”
— Voiceverse Origins (@VoiceverseNFT) January 14, 2022