Rockstar’s desire to create a fictional criminal underworld that’s as authentic as possible persuaded the company to eschew voice actors, where possible, and hire “actual, real gang members” for Grand Theft Auto 5.
Speaking to Chicago radio station WGN, the game’s contributing writer and producer “Lazlow” Jones said that thousands of hours of audio had been collected by going into people’s houses and recording them speaking as they would in real life.
“When we record all these ambient characters we go towards authenticity,” he said. “In the game there’s these rival gangs. There’s Black gangs, Latino gangs … we recruited a guy who gets gang members, actual real gang members, like El Salvadoran gang dudes with amazing tattoos, one of which had literally gotten out of prison the day before.
“We get these guys in to record the gang characters because we don’t want a goofy L.A actor who went to a fancy school trying to be a hard gang member. There’s nothing worse than that, so just go find the terrifying people and say ‘can you come in here please?'”
The voice actors are often ready to contribute their own take on the scripts, said Lazlow. “They look at the lines and say, ‘I wouldn’t say that,’ so we say, ‘OK, say what you would say.’ Authenticity.
“There’s a lot of sessions where we would just throw the script on the floor. ‘This is irrelevant, let’s just work on something real.'”
“I flew into Memphis and drove an hour and a half south, near the Alabama border, and we burned furniture and drank moonshine and every few hours we’d go record some more. I bought fireworks, liquor and slabs of things to barbecue. It was all expensed,” he said.