Skyrim’s modding community has found themselves locked in an intense ethical discussion over their use.
Modders have worked diligently over time to make Skyrim continually evolve and grow since its initial release to the world.
Many of their works, particularly those which send you on exciting adventures such as becoming high priest of your temple or earning powerful Daedric abilities by making tough choices, feature fresh voice acting to bring their stories and characters to life or add dialogue for existing NPCs.
Historically, such mods relied heavily on real people – often either the modder themselves or voice actors of both professional and amateur varieties – to deliver their lines; but in recent months more works have emerged that use AI voice generation instead, sparking some controversy.
Do you prefer Skyrim mods using real actors instead of AI voices? Unfortunately, Skyrim modding is not the only area affected by ChatGPT and Elevenlabs being utilized to produce voice acting – or, more troubling still, to mimic established voices by imitating existing characters’ tones or personalities.
Naturally, AI mimics are especially worrisome to those working professionally as voice actors; their livelihood may be threatened by AI mimics’ rise.
Over recent months, Skyrim modding has emerged as an interesting microcosm of this larger debate, with several mods making use of Elevenlabs programs to add voice lines for characters in-game (including Dragonborn himself ) or imitate voice actors who portray NPCs appearing and gathering momentum.
This trend has generated much debate within the community regarding the ethics behind using AI voices for mods in mimic-based scenarios like that described above, leading to one such conversation being hosted on Reddit’s Skyrimmods subreddit.
On top of these and similar threads addressing AI voice usage, some notable modders such as JaySerpa – known for creating mods which add extra voice lines for vampires or civil war soldiers using existing voices files from within game – have felt compelled to address AI voice use head on.
“Building two lines from within game files differs considerably from training an AI network with another person’s voice and having it say whatever you wish,” writes JaySerpa in the description of a vampire mod linked above, adding: “Voice cloning may spark some backlash among actors we already love, as well as eventual regulation; even though I find the technology fascinating, for now I would take an unconvinced and cautious stance.”
No matter your opinion on AI voices in Skyrim modding, make sure to stay tuned in for updates about The Elder Scrolls 6 as well as our mods of the month for March 2023!