Under the Spotlight is a feature series that focuses on the rising stars of tomorrow, and those which have achieved success beyond the limits of their respected field. The series will be run by Urban Times editor Christian Julal.
One part creativity, and two parts madness equals the composition of Michael Mando’s performance as the sinister and sadistic Vaas in Ubisoft’s critically acclaimed video game, Far Cry 3. His performance is so highly regarded; some have even dared to compare it to that of Heath Ledger’s Joker—in The Dark Knight. Whether you agree with this statement or not, one cannot deny the brilliance of Mando’s performance, and admire how far video game acting has come since its inception in 1980.
Vaas, who is one of the primary antagonists in Far Cry 3, was not meant to be part of the final product. Originally, Mando auditioned for another role—mostly through improvisation—which he did not receive. His performance however was so captivating, Ubisoft created the character of Vaas—in his likeness—just for him. Ubisoft even went as far as incorporating every little detail, right down to the jewellery and taped fingers that Mando wore during his audition when designing Vaas. Mando had become the inspiration behind the now iconic character.
Providing both the voice and the movement, it is only fair to say that the character of Vaas in its essence is a creation and an extension of Michael Mando. Just as an actor takes on the role of a character, Mando has created and taken on the character of Vaas. In this respect, what makes a video game actor, such as Mando, any different from an actor in a film or television show?
BBC News did a feature which looked to uncover pivotal actors who have revolutionized video games. Lo and behold, Canadian born Mando was a primary focus. In the interview, he describes the acting style and production that goes along with video game acting.
“It’s all done in one take, like the theatre. In film, I can say a line, another actor can say a line, and then it will cut back to me in a different take. In motion capture, there are no cuts. But the intimacy of the voice performance is at a film level. I can speak to you in my regular tone of voice, and it’s loud enough, it’s true enough, and it’s honest enough.”
Ellen Page—the star of such films as Juno—is another actress who has taken the leap into video game acting. The upcoming game entitled Beyond: Two Souls looks to further push the envelope in regards to acting in video games. Page, who is already an experienced actress, has described the experience as “acting bootcamp.” If an experienced and well regarded film actress such as Page finds the process of video game acting to be demanding, then it should only further establish the brilliance of Mando and his performance.
The Avant-garde performance is never better showcased than through the now famous definition of insanity monologue. Mando provides a chilling and gripping performance that has ranked him amongst the thirty most amazing people in gaming of 2012 by IGN. As this list is usually comprised of developers of video games, this is truly a remarkable feat.
Video game acting has long been overshadowed by performances of other mediums, but through Mando’s talent and genius, the world of video games has transcended into the realm of storytelling. Mando has not only brought computer gaming to life, but into the spotlight.