Destiny: The Dinklage Remembered
Greg Johnson / Sep 11th, 2015 No Comments
Destiny has recently been patched to feature Nolan North as Ghost‘s new ghost voice. Yet players who’ve enjoyed the game since day one have only known the voice of the ghost as one man: Peter Dinklage.
This isn’t about discussing which of the two is better (and let’s be frank, North has the voice acting chops whereas Dinklage just works better on a screen) but instead considers the morality of replacing one actor with another and changing the original experience.
Guardians, Make Your Choice
A lot of proverbial poo was flung at Dinklage’s voice work in Destiny. Some said he was too stale while others found his tone choices “stupid” to put it lightly. Whether or not players enjoyed Dinklage, the fact of the matter was he put in the time and work. Gamers, as they (and people in general) always do, voiced their complaints and ultimately shouted into the darkness they fought against, achieving nothing. Except this time the complaints were heard, just like the gentle light of the Traveler presumed long gone. Bungie and Activision listened to Destiny’s vocal fans and replaced Dinklage.
Now this wasn’t just some mild replacement, North redid every single line in the game. Anyone who plays Destiny from here on out will never be able to hear Dinklage as the player’s ghost. His performance now only exists via YouTube recordings and the like. Mass Effect 3 had a somewhat similar faux pas with its fans as many were less than enthralled by the ending of the trilogy, prompting Bioware to update the game and patch over the original ending.
These instances of fan’s voices making heavy post-release alterations are signs of changing times for the gaming industry in a number of ways. One of which is the mere fact that developers can alter their games to this degree following its release, the other being the fact that they actually will.
George Lucas Does Destiny
North taking over for Dinklage is akin to Hayden Christensen taking over for Sebastian Shaw. Who is Sebastian Shaw? He’s Darth Vader without the mask in Star Wars: Episode VI. Those who have been living in a fallout shelter their entire lives may not remember that a fairly recent “upgrade” to Episode VI was to replace the older force ghost of Anakin at the film’s end with a younger one portrayed by Christensen. Semantics of this decision aside, (why did nobody else become young if Anakin got to?) the bigger issue is that it does a great disservice to Sebastian Shaw and his portrayal as Vader. Luckily for him, he’s dead and has the luxury of not having to care anymore. But men like David Prowse, whom has been publicly unacknowledged by George Lucas despite being the man in the actual Darth Vader suit, have to live with the insult.
Much like Prowse, Dinklage is still alive and very much kicking, which adds a bit of insult to the decision to replace him with North. While Bungie has publicly stated that the decision revolves around time issues (read: Dinklage is a busy man) instead of some falling out or grudge towards his performance. If there is no beef, then why not keep his voice in the game as an option? Developers could include a “Dinklage Mode” where players can choose who voices their ghost for the first bit of the game. Another more fitting option would be to give “Dinklbot” (as fans call him) an actual proper death/write-off instead of just pretending like he never existed to begin with.
A Game of Tones
Whether players find themselves fond of Dinklage’s subdued performance or North’s more peppy take, the point stands that replacing an actor outright is a bit disrespectful. Dinklage definitely got his paycheck but now it’s as if his work never existed. What if movie goers threw a fit over Marlon Brandon’s performance in Apocalypse Now and the studio simply reshot a different actor then fit him in it? Perhaps they could even go back now and do it. I’m sure a big guy like Tom Brady could easily replace him and deliver a more sober performance, but it wouldn’t be right.
So here’s to Peter Dinklage, the truest and first voice of the player’s ghost, for better or for worse. Here’s also to Nolan North, as this article isn’t about rejecting his performance. He’s a talented voice actor who deserves to be respected for his newfound role. Besides, as this replacement has proven, nothing is necessarily forever as we go forward together with the revisionist gaming industry at large.
tags: activision , bungie , Destiny The Taken King , Editorial , Nolan North , opinion , Peter Dinklage , xbox one