The Last Of Us, Uncharted, Silent Hill, Shadow of Mordor, COD, Saints Row, BioShock… the list of games starring Troy Baker is never-ending. It’s an impressive (and intimidating) realisation that I make as I’m sitting in the theatre at Manchester Comic Con, waiting for Troy to begin a musical set onstage.
Without me even realising, Troy Baker has been a seminal part of my growth as a person, voicing some of my favourite characters in my favourite games, lurking in the background without me even noticing.
I’m not the only one in the room who feels this way.
The queue to hear him sing was a long one, with lots of people eagerly awaiting their chance to take a seat at a rare UK performance for the American voice actor.
He’s not just singing, he’s telling the audience stories. A collection of impressions of his life from those who’ve touched him. Family, friends, colleagues. He’s painting a picture of a life through his music. And it’s a world away from Joel, Sam, The Joker.
His performance is incredibly moving and it’s possibly one of the most enchanting live performances I’ve ever witnessed. Troy engages with his fans, he jokes, he shares emotional and personal stories.
He opens up about his son, his grandparents, mental health, death. He weaves an intricate tapestry of beautiful and haunting stories into his music, into his spoken words, and by the end of the evening a hundred people are standing up, holding their phone torches up to the stage and swaying together – a sign of respect. A thank you.
It was emotionally moving.
“These have been my stories,” he tells his captivated audience. “I can’t wait to hear yours.”
The following day I take my seat at an intimate interview with Nolan North and Troy himself. It was an informal chat, a nice and friendly interview, but this Troy seemed much different to the one on stage the evening before.
This Troy was more prepared to quip, make light of situations. He was in “performance” mode it seemed, coming hot off the back of a live performance of his and Nolan’s RetroReplay for the audience downstairs.
He wasn’t in a room with fans holding their phones up as a mark of respect. Instead he was in a room of journalists, and there seemed to be a contrast between the two.
GameByte asked the duo how they became friends and Troy answered: “You know, we’ve become friends with games that we’ve worked on together. [I was] actually a massive fan of Uncharted before we started working together and then to be on that was really… even though we’d worked together and hung out together, I think it was really working on Uncharted that we were like ‘oh we can hang. This is cool… we can be friends.’
“As you get older, your gates get higher, your walls get stronger and there’s a few people in your life you’re like ‘yeah you can come into the castle.'”
Discussing their YouTube channel, RetroReplay, the duo tell us the idea stemmed from Nolan’s lack of childhood gaming nostalgia, with Troy wanting to show him some of the best nostalgia-trips of the early days of gaming.
They express a fondness for their fans, a wish to – in Nolan’s words – “build a community” for their fans and followers. A safe space for laughter, something which is incredibly rare in the YouTube world. But it’s easy to see the love when scrolling through RetroReplay’s comments section. No trolls. No hate. Just a community.
When asked how Troy came to fame, he responds refreshingly honestly, saying: “Shrug of shoulders. I have no idea because [laughs] my path… I don’t want anyone else to take… One night I was at a gentlemen’s establishment and the DJ there – “
It’s here Nolan cuts him off: “You were at a strip club.”
“I was at a strip club,” Troy acknowledges, “The DJ was horribly drunk… everyone tells me I do a great imitation of him – ‘you wanna jump on the mike?’ And so I did… The manager thought that James was still at the DJ booth.”
He goes on to explain the strange path that led him to the convention centre, from the DJ booth in a strip club to car commercials, to where he is today.
“Everyone’s path is different. The commonality that I would say amongst all people is there comes a point where you have to be brave enough to fail, and you have to be a little bit reckless and a little bit dangerous, and if you don’t have that in you, this may not be the path for you. But if you’re willing to make a fool of yourself and do it honestly then this could be something that is for you.”
We wrap up the interview because Troy and Nolan have a queue of hundreds of fans awaiting their photos and signatures downstairs in the convention centre.
Asking what’s become a staple GameByte question of the weekend, Brett wants to know what Troy’s least-favourite role has been.
“I don’t want to p*ss anybody off,” Troy confesses, “There are some popular games and franchises that we’ve had to do, and some of them have been redone, and we weren’t allowed to change any of the lines.
“But time reveals that some things don’t hold up well. Especially when you’re having to say the same name over and over again. I’m not by any means saying which game that way, it might have been an HD remake of a certain game that I did, and the writing was… of a time.”
We’ll leave you to speculate on what game that could be…
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