While we were at New York Comic Con 2018, we sat down to talk with Lindsay Jones of Rooster Teeth, about Achievement Hunter, voice acting and what it's like working on camera.
For those unfamiliar with Jones, she's a staple presence at Rooster Teeth where she works as a member of Achievement Hunter and as a voice actress for their animation department, where she voices Ruby Rose in the hit series RWBY and its spin-off RWBY Chibi, Vanessa Kimball in Red vs. Blue, and Space Kid in Camp Camp. She also makes appearances on Rooster Teeth podcasts and live action segments, including Always Open, On the Spot, and Immersion. She also likes cats.
TechRaptor: Hi, this is Courtney from TechRaptor, and I am here with…
Lindsay Jones: Hi I’m Lindsay Jones, I am the voice of Ruby Rose in RWBY, Razzle in gen:LOCK, and many other things at Rooster Teeth.
TechRaptor: How did you get your start in entertainment and video games and that whole world?
Lindsay: Well growing up I definitely was a hard core nerd, like I still am now. I grew up in the Dallas area and that was, I don’t know, at the time it was kind of frowned upon to be someone like that. Especially, unfortunately, as a woman. So I always felt a little bit out of place, but coming to Austin I really found my niche, there was plenty of other people who felt the same way, who are just interested in expressing their individualism, especially in the nerd genres. Now, with online connectivity too, I’ve met so many other people who felt the same way.
So I’ve had the privilege of working at the type of company that encourages that type of lifestyle and really tries to influence you and allow you to express your creativity really. Especially with my entertainment jobs now, I get to do voice acting, I get to do podcasts, my focus primarily at work is now with the Achievement Hunter group that does video gameplay focus. So, yeah, I’ve been very honored to literally do what I love for a living.
TechRaptor: Nice. Why did you move to Austin? Was it for a job, or for college, or…?
Lindsay: I went for college, yeah. I went to the University of Texas in Austin. I started off as a theater major [...] because I was interested in acting and I always loved musical theater, and actually at the time my final goal was to end up at somewhere like New York and trying to do maybe like a Broadway break-in or something. Halfway through college I discovered the film department and I thought “wow, this is a really fantastic way to express yourself through a different genre, or a different medium.” That’s when I fell in love with the idea of screenwriting, directing, voice over work as well.
I also grew up about fifteen minutes away from Funimation, and being a giant anime nerd I thought “wow that’d be really cool”, but I had no idea how to get into it or what the intricacies are. So with that opportunity in front of me I thought “okay I’ll just hop onto a double major”, I dual majored there, and luckily I was able to meet Miles Luna while I was there, who also works on RWBY and a lot of other properties at Rooster Teeth, and he gave me a fantastic recommendation for a Rooster Teeth internship. One thing led to another, and you know, now, 7 years later, I’m still working there. So, they got me.
TechRaptor: Working at Rooster Teeth, you’ve worked with a couple different departments?
TechRaptor: So what was it that drew you to Achievement Hunter? Or were you assigned there and it just stuck?
Lindsay: [Laughter.] No, definitely not assigned. I started off in the live-action department, again coming off of UT and working on film and film-focused areas. I like doing a lot of directing and screenwriting, as I said before, and I was heavily into editing too, I still edit a little bit but not as much as I used to. So while in the live-action department those are my focuses, and that was also when they kind of cultivated the new podcasting-- uh, the live-action elements of the podcasting department, so that kind of became its own entity of itself too.
I was given the the opportunity to decide between producing for the podcast or joining Achievement Hunter, and I thought “well okay, I like the idea of producing, don’t get me wrong, but it would be a little bit more official in capacity, I would have to take things very very seriously.” While we do take things seriously at times at Achievement Hunter, we like to say we are professionally unprofessional, we like to have fun and bounce ideas off of each other. We literally play for our content. So I thought “okay, I feel like I fit in pretty well here, I like the comedy style as well”, and again my love for video games definitely fueled my decision to go ahead and transfer over to that department.
TechRaptor: What would you say is the best part of working at Achievement Hunter?
Lindsay: I feel like I’m obligated to be like “oh working with my husband is fantastic.” [Laughter.] It’s great.
TechRaptor: [Laughter.] Honestly I feel like that would be weird. How is it working with your spouse?
Lindsay: It’s interesting. Obviously, like, I would say we are the exception, not the rule. I can understand completely why there’s a lot of stress and pressure on people who do decide to do that, and a lot of liability. Luckily for us, it worked out nicely where we almost go into more friend mode, and that’s how it started anyway. We were friends before we ended up dating and getting married. So, for me, it feels like I’m going to work with a bunch of my older brothers, for lack of a better term. So I really enjoy working with Achievement Hunter, again I think the sense of comedy that they have and the chemistry that we have with other workers there is very casual and laid back but it encourages you to really express yourself and explore video gaming as well, and not just play as your normally would. That’s why we have series like Things to Do, where we try to figure out how you could play this video game or what areas you can try to delve into in this video game that haven’t been touched before.
TechRaptor: Are there any games that you enjoy playing that you need to convince the rest of the team to get into?
Lindsay: [Laughter.] Uh… a lot of cat-orientated games because I’m a cat person. For the most part, no. I know we try to hit a lot of AAA titled releases. Big ones recently like Assassin’s Creed Odyssey just came out, Spider-Man. Other than that, we love to stalk the Steam uploads to see what kind of Steam games are popular, especially since that’s where you’re going to find a lot of indie developer games that maybe you’re not familiar with but are doing really well and performing well. That’s sometimes where we get our best content too, is unheard of games that we just play and, just because we’re enjoying ourselves so much the fans seem to enjoy it too. Like Genital Jousting is a big one. You know, let the name speak for itself, think you can put two and two together there.
On the flip-side it’s kind of interesting, our fanbase does love watching us just kind of go through torture. So sometimes if we’re playing a game and we’re just having a miserable time, it becomes funny to them in almost a very sadistic, masochistic manner. So one of our most popular videos is from Uno: The Movie, when we played the Uno game on Xbox for four hours, and that was… abysmal. But, again, people loved it so much that it’s like… I think over five or six million views now? Yeah, so…
TechRaptor: So people really like Uno.
Lindsay: Yeah, yes. That’s what we learned. Goodness.
TechRaptor: What's it like voicing a character for a video game? With RWBY: Amity Arena and BlazBlue and others?
Lindsay: I was in Freedom Planet 2 as well. That’s… I think simply ported right now for the Switch, but I could be wrong. I want to say there’s a couple other platforms it’s on right now.
TechRaptor: It’s on PC, I know that.
Lindsay: Okay, it’s Steam based too. Awesome, great. But yea, it’s phenomenal, again just like going back to my love of video games, I can’t believe I’m in a video game. Voice acting in general is fantastic and an incredibly rewarding experience, I love doing it. But it’s very interesting to see the shift between a narrative-focused voice acting performance, and then like a video game-focused voice acting performance. That’s why I have such respect for people like Laura Bailey, Travis Willingham, etc. who do this for a living. It is very taxing, you have to think of the character combinations you’re going to get selected by the person who’s playing. So you say, okay, we’ll deliver this line now. Okay let's do it 12 different ways. Let's repeat it over and over again. Specifically with, what we call efforts, which is the fighting noises that you have, you have to account for literally any type of elemental attack, any environmental influence that’s going to happen in the game. So really it just kind of allows you to I guess stretch your acting muscle, or try to figure out how to perform in a way you haven’t done so before.
TechRaptor: You make it sound harder than, you know, just voice acting for animation or for…
Lindsay: I think both have their merits in like how hard it is, yeah, but I feel like video game voice acting, for me, is a bit like running a marathon. Like you got to make sure you keep up the energy for an extended period of time as you’re recording, and make it as exciting as you possibly can for the game player.
TechRaptor: What's been your favorite experience working with game developers, publishers, either as a voice actress or as working with Achievement Hunter?
Lindsay: The most fun that I’ve had working with other developers is just, I don’t know, coming into it again as a fan of the genre itself, for them to even humor the idea of working with someone like me is amazing and very humbling. Again, it really makes us feel, as a company, and as an actor myself, like we have a place at the table in this genre that has had decades of lineage behind it. Now we are part of the conversation too, which is great, and again, working with Achievement Hunter it feels like family. It’s the same thing, I’m very honored to be accepted into their creative mindset too, especially in a, unfortunately, very stigmatized, very male dominated audience that we have. Video gaming is, unfortunately, still seen as a very male-dominated space, so to be accepted in as a woman and to say “no, you have the same amount of voice that we have” is very very awesome.
TechRaptor: Since you brought that up, actually, are there any particular challenges you faced in this arena as a woman?
Lindsay: Yeah. I mean, the evidence kind of speaks for itself. I mentioned it before too, I mean, you can literally look at our comment sections and it will say it there. There’s many many times where I’m with the guys and there will be no comment on their physical appearance, but that’s like the entirety of what I’m judged on, not really my talent level. But, you know, things are, and have, improved drastically. Since I was in school as well, I think about going to high school and experiencing all the negativity geared towards me and my gender, and now where I am here and how many women have really stepped out of the woodwork and said, you know, we’re here, we have been here, we’re going to lend our voices to this kind of content and the narrative we’ve established, and I think that’s fantastic. So hopefully it will only go up from here.
TechRaptor: As really the main female Achievement Hunter, do you feel any pressure about that? Any pressure to represent or…?
Lindsay: There’s a little bit. I think if anything there’s a pressure to be entertaining in general. I try not to focus on “okay I’m the only female representation here, I gotta make sure I step up and represent” because I try to steer away from the broad label of “I am a woman” because that has so many different interpretations and definitions that could come with it too. So I feel like if I’m bringing myself forward as a positive content creator and really making things that people will enjoy, then hopefully for them the gender will just kind of be a side effect. The best way that I put it is Achievement Hunter themselves has never seen me as “the girl who’s an Achievement Hunter.” They’d say “you’re an Achievement Hunter who happens to be a girl.” I think that’s the best way you can look at it.
TechRaptor: Awww. That’s a really sweet way to look at it actually.
TechRaptor: Actually, since RWBY: Combat Ready isn’t quite out yet, is there anything you’re allowed to say about it, or is it all under wraps?
Lindsay: Oooh, non-spoilerey things. I did the demo, I really enjoyed it, especially playing board games growing up as well I’m very excited for people to have that interactive experience that isn’t with a screen, and I think also that just kind of creates a little bit more of a level of intimacy when you’re playing with someone in person, that’s also why I like couch co-op for video games. So expect to enjoy the same characters and the same world that you have come to love in RWBY, but in a different format.
TechRaptor: What games are you currently playing?
Lindsay: I just started Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, I got to go back and play that, I was trying to figure out how to get a PC up here. Unfortunately, no dice. Mario Party just released this weekend as well so I gotta play that too. Get that ready for work. I got to get into Spider-Man as well, my husband Michael just finished playing through all of it and now I’m trying to hop on board after him. So yeah, those are the big three.
TechRaptor: So once he stopped hogging the console.
Lindsay: Exactly, goodness. Luckily we shift between games. Go “you focus on this, I’ll do this one right now, and we’ll trade.”
TechRaptor: [Laughter.] Switch!
Lindsay: [Laughter.] Right.
TechRaptor: What games are you looking forward to playing that are coming out?
Lindsay: Oh, that is a good question. There’s a lot that is coming up. Red Dead 2 looks amazing, I’m very excited for that one. I think that’s the biggest one right now, that’s what everyone is pretty darn stoked about too, so…
TechRaptor: If you could voice any character for any game, who would you want to voice? And what would they sound like?
Lindsay: Oh gosh. Oh man. That’s intense. Oh man, my terrible terrible impressions. Michael and I have liked Metroid for quite some time, and I know Samus so far has not had much, if any, of a speaking role. Maybe some efforts here and there. But if they decided to ever give her a voice, that would be the role of a lifetime. I would take that for sure. I would think she would sound very similar to Vanessa Kimball, my character from Red vs. Blue. Very authoritative, but you know, down to brass tacks kind of woman. You know, get shit done.
TechRaptor: Okay, well that is all my questions. Thank you so much.
Lindsay: Thank you! Appreciate it.