Interview with Kevan Brighting, The Narrator from The Stanley Parable!
The Stanley Parable is a game that we love--as sardonic, depressing, and enjoyable as it is. It also recently received the honour of being named one of the top games of 2013 by none other than The New Yorker. Although there is no doubt interesting stuff to be plied from creator Davey Wreden's mind, we thought we'd sit down and have a chat with one of the game's most memorable and defining facets - The Narrator.
British voice over artist Kevan Brighting lends his voice to Wreden's wry and brilliant script, and is well on his way to becoming a cult personality in the gaming world due to the title's success. But as quintessential to the game as Brighting has become, he's actually a somewhat unlikely person to have gotten involved in voicing video games, having worked almost exclusively on audio books, UK TV and radio adverts, and corporate work beforehand.
"It was a job that was originally advertised on a talent website in the US, called Voice123. It was an open audition, and that’s exactly how I got it," explains Brighting.
"It was one of those, sort of, serendipity things. I remember it cropped up in my inbox on a Saturday morning, when I was a bit worse for wear from the night before. A lot of the jobs that crop up on that site are fairly pedestrian and quite dull quite often, and all I saw was the title, The Stanley Parable. I thought it was going to be religious, because there’s a lot of church stuff that appears on Voice123. Of course, once I opened it up, the script that Davey had posted was effectively the first paragraph of the original The Stanley Parable. It’s one of those weird things that, when you look at a script, and I thought, 'Oh, this is nice...I think I know how to say this. I know the voice that should be used for this.' So that was it. I just did it, sent it off, and in the fullness of time Davey in contact with me and said, 'You’ve got the gig, let’s do it.' And it just went on from there."
(Not) Playing Games
What makes Brighting an even more unlikely candidate is the fact that he does not consider himself a gamer.
"This is the irony," admits Brighting.
Furthermore, Brighting has never even played The Stanley Parable, but is looking forward to its eventual availability on Mac so that he can. However, as much as he relishes the prospect of actually getting the full hands-on experience himself, he still actually enjoys watching others play it.
"It’s quite fun to watch people on YouTube do all these walk-through and see their reactions to it. Because, obviously, I know all the words, I know all the outcomes."
But even more revealing is that it reminds Brighting of things about the game he'd forgotten. Because the game has been in constant development over four years - from its first manifestation as a Half-Life 2 mod to its recent HD polishing - it means there are lines that Brighting just can't remember. Revisiting the game as it currently stands is a process of rediscovery for him.
"Some of what you hear in the new The Stanley Parable, is stuff that I might have recorded two, two and a half, three years ago. It has literally been a work in progress, and I’ve recorded bits of scripts as they’ve arrived from Davey. And so, some things have gone out of my mind."
Even if Brighting isn't a gamer, has being involved in such a blunt satire to the video game industry changed his attitude towards games?
"No," comes a very definite response.
But interestingly, it has opened him up to a whole new industry for voice-over work: one that he'd never considered before working with Wreden.
"I wish I’d got involved in games a long time ago...I think a lot of voice-overs don’t realise how big the market is. I think games make more money than Hollywood movies these days? If not more, than very close to. And the budgets of some of the games released is huge, now. It’s all very different from the early days of Doom and Super Mario. I mean, you’ve got casts of thousands, and audio post-production, and god knows what, these days. It’s a big industry. "
Choices, Choices, Choices.
Of course, the game's success has opened up many new avenues for Brighting, unsurprisingly, within gaming. Although not able to currently indulge us on some of the details of the current projects he's working on due to non-disclosure agreements etc, he's certainly not going to disappear from our consoles and/or desktops anytime soon.
But interestingly, the success of The Stanley Parable has also given him a whole wealth of new jobs in the mediums that he was working in before the game.
"I’m getting requests from people who are in the advertising business, or whatever, but obviously play games at home...I’ve got work through The Stanley Parable just because someone’s played the game. So [I] get work from people that people you would never have contact with normally."
"I get a lot of requests from people saying, “Ooh, I’m working on a game.” It’s actually The Stanley Parable all over again, but not as well written. I graciously refuse...people have to have original ideas." - Kevan Brighting, the voice of The Narrator
But despite the host of offers both gaming and non-gaming, he still finds the time to be discerning, especially when it comes to being approached about lending his voice to The Stanley Parable homages.
"The thing is, I get a lot of requests from people saying, “Ooh, I’m working on a game.” It’s actually The Stanley Parable all over again, but not as well written. And they want me to voice it in exactly the same voice as The Stanley Parable. I graciously refuse, because I think it would dilute the effect of Stanley, and I think people have to have original ideas. That’s what made Stanley so good to work on. It was a really good original idea."
The one thing that Brighting was able to tell us about is that he and Wreden are working on a DOTA 2 announcer pack, for which they'll be starting work on in the New Year. Otherwise, you can follow him on Twitter @kevanthevoice for the latest news on what he's doing.
Listen to our full interview below:
The Stanley Parable is available to purchase from Steam. For more information about the game, visit www.stanleyparable.com. For more information about Kevan Brighting, visit http://kevanbrighting.com.