Voice Actor Behind CD Projekt’s The Witcher Calls Out AI’s Inevitable Dangerous Impact on Gaming

Doug Cockle highlights an underlying yet frightening truth about AI in voice acting.

SUMMARY

  • Doug Cockle, the iconic voice behind Geralt, calls AI "inevitable" but "dangerous".
  • The unethical use of AI when it comes to voice acting could be on the rise.
  • It's already been integrated in games like The Finals and Cyberpunk 2077.
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It’s no secret that CD Projekt has left its hallmark on gaming by being the massive publisher behind games like Cyberpunk 2077 and, of course, The Witcher series. It’s also no secret that artificial intelligence is on the rise in all industries, and gaming has probably been utilizing it the most, especially when it comes to NPCs.

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Just recently, the voice actor behind Geralt of Rivia expressed his concerns regarding the use of AI in gaming. Specifically, when it comes to NPCs, but most importantly, voice acting in general. His concerns seem valid, as the industry is ever-evolving, and this is a sentiment that many in the industry share.

Doug Cockle, Voice Actor Behind CD Projekt’s The Witcher, Isn’t Too Pleased with the Prospect of AI Integration

CD Projekt Red has been hard at work with The Witcher 4, but what about the stellar voice actors that make up these games?
CD Projekt Red has been hard at work with The Witcher 4, but what about the stellar voice actors that make up these games?

Speaking to IGN, Doug stated that he isn’t too worried about AI itself, but the mishandling of it, especially when it comes to voices and voice acting.

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AI is inevitable and developers will use AI.

His main concern is regarding how this AI can be used to fill out the background voices in a game, such as for NPCs. The idea is that developers can digitize the voice of an NPC they have previously programmed and reprogram it using AI to say and act in ways that weren’t originally intended.

Essentially, taking someone’s likeness, their voice, and using it in a way that they haven’t consented to, is what Doug is referring to. According to him, whenever someone uses his or anyone else’s voice, be it for good intentions or even just for mods, they’re effectively “robbing” him of income.

Every time somebody does that, they’re effectively robbing me of income, and not just me, any other voice actor who they do it with.

We’re all watching our voices get used in ways that we would rather they weren’t.

When it comes to those with good intentions, these concerns are still valid, but Doug specifically wants to highlight those that have nefarious purposes. AI can recreate voices so perfectly that they can make characters say whatever the user desires.

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AI has thrown everyone in every industry into a frenzy.
AI has thrown everyone in every industry into a frenzy.

There are even videos on platforms like YouTube where AI is being used to make popular characters, such as Spider-Man, say things that they’ve never said, though this is generally reserved for memes.

Other industries, like the music industry, have also been hit hard, with AI perfectly recreating artists’ voices and piecing it all together in full-length songs.

Doug reiterates that it’s not AI that is the problem; it’s the people using it that have made it unsafe for people in his line of work.

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Somebody could use AI to produce something racist using Geralt’s voice, using my voice, or just something against anything that most normal people think is good. That’s where the AI gets dangerous. Fake news, false news, false opinions. We’re seeing it with politicians now. People are putting things out there. So AI is not the problem. It’s the people using AI.

The point that Doug wants to make clear is that it’s not just Geralt’s voice that they’re recreating; it’s his own voice. It can be used in many unethical and ill-mannered ways.

Some voice actors have banded together against AI and have tried to maintain control over their own voices and AI as much as possible. One such platform is Morpheme AI, which Doug is completely on board with.

Regardless, AI has been criticized heavily in the gaming space. Some experimental titles have begun to integrate ChatGPT, and although many have found it interesting, some devs have pointed out its potential dangers.

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When it comes to voice acting specifically, recently released shooter The Finals was criticized for using AI voices. CD Projekt Red was also heavily criticized for using AI to finish the Polish voiceover for the character Viktor in Cyberpunk 2077.

It seems that AI is still on the rise, and ultimately, the direction that the gaming industry takes with it is still uncertain. Voice actors aren’t the only ones worried, and if Doug’s suspicions and criticisms hold true, we’ll be looking at a very different industry 10 years from now.

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Written by Adil Farooq

Articles Published: 93

Ever since he can remember, Adil has been deeply embedded within the world of video games, movies, TV shows, and music. And on his off days, you'll find him playing guitar, and working on his aforementioned music and the like.