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The Secret Behind Football Video Game Commenters

The easiest way to see the development of soccer video games from time to time is through the graphic aspect. However, there is another aspect that people are also paying attention to today: Commentators.

Day by day, the development is getting more and more adaptable and very similar to real football. From what used to be short sounds like ‘shoot’ and ‘corner kick’, to a series of complex words that turned soccer games into real matches.

Presenting everything realistically is indeed the main goal of the soccer game. That’s why some developers deliberately tie professional soccer commentators to be present exclusively in their soccer games.

Electronic Arts (EA) Sports via FIFA have Martin Tyler, Alan Smith, Clive Tyldesley, and Andy Townsend as commentators. Konami, on the other hand, has worked with names such as Jon Champion, Peter Drury, to Jim Beglin, whom we all hear about on television.

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If in real football the commentators used to guide the match directly alias play-by-play, how about soccer game?

“Of course it wouldn’t be the same as commenting on a football match live. But it’s actually not that difficult,” Drury said in an interview with vice. What is clear, he said, takes extra hard work to do everything.

Commenting on a soccer game basically has a similar concept to a real match. His job is to guide. What makes the difference is that they have to comment on something that is actually virtual to be as natural as possible. The emotion must be felt, the intonation must be right.

“I have to say that the person who can do it is a genius. They have to be there and produce relevant sounds so gamers can understand those sounds,” said Drury.

Drury is not exaggerating when he says that football game commentators and other figures who are able to do it are geniuses. He may think it’s not that difficult, but it’s actually a fairly complicated process.

When commenting on a soccer game, the commentators are commenting on something that doesn’t exist at all. I mean, they don’t see a real game, not even a soccer game. Every comment that comes out comes from a long series of scripts.

The developer will provide several sheets of paper containing thousands of lines of text. The first, for example, the names of the players. Next, the names of the teams. Next again, certain situations on the pitch like, say, when chances or goals occur.

Well, the commentators were going to say everything for later recording. From each of these utterances, each must be done repeatedly to be able to produce different intonations and emotions.

The name ‘Cristiano Ronaldo’, for example, may have more than five pronunciation versions. Starting from ‘Cristiano Ronaldo’ when he had the ball, ‘Cristiano Ronaldo’ when he passed opponents, ‘Cristiano Ronaldo’ when he scored a goal, and various other situations.

“You have to do all that to thousands of names at seven or eight different intensities,” Drury said.

In recent years, the process of recording football game commentators is no longer too focused on text. The reason is, this can make comments that sound less natural, which means they don’t fit the mission of most football games today.

The developer then outsmarted it by only providing a name, for example, along with the situation. Next, the commentators just imagine the situation that happened and then say it. This method makes the voice sound more varied and does not eliminate the characteristics of the commentator himself.

Several sports games other than soccer have actually done the same thing. The most popular hockey game in the world, NHL, is one of them. The problem is the same: Getting too hung up on the script makes comments that sound less natural.

“They (the commentators) only took a second, visualized it, then rattled off ten different examples of speech based on the situation we were given,” said Sean Ramjagsingh, producer NHL.

So, after all that, is the process over? Of course not. There is still an editing process, sometimes even re-recording, then embedding it into the game. In short, it’s still long, ladies and gentlemen.

So, making commentators in soccer games is quite complicated. That’s why the addition of a new line or comment is usually only done once every few years. It makes sense that in the end the voices and sentences we hear seem the same.

Can’t believe it? Listen to this sentence:

“Hi there everybody, Martin Tyler here along with Alan Smith and our match today comes from the Premier League.”

How many editions of FIFA have you heard of?

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