This past weekend, BruisedThumbs attended Sac Anime in wonderful Sacramento, California where I snagged an interview with one of the most entertaining voice over actresses in the industry, Ashly Burch.
You may know Ashly from some of biggest titles in video games, animes, or her popular YouTube show “Hey Ash, Whatcha Playin’?” Ashly’s range is impressive with credits as Lt. Lisa Reid (Aliens: Colonial Marines), Ayla (Awesomenauts), Holly (Must Come Down), and of course Tiny Tina from the 2012 monster hit Borderlands 2, to name a few. Here’s the chat Ash and I had.
Dan Herrera: How’s your con going?
Ashly Burch: It’s really great. I really enjoy going to anime cons, a lot of the same guests will come and I've become friends with them, and it’s really fun. Everyone has been super nice.
D: You wrote for valve. Are you allowed to talk about anything?
A: The thing I was brought up to Valve for ended up getting canceled, but while I was there during the big “Man Vs. Machine” launch we released a series of comics, I worked on a lot of the comics and awesome flavor texts on the sites.
D: I worked on Call of Duty: Ghosts and you have a great game out, so I don’t know how much this happens, but are there many people that come up to you and hate on your games?
A: To your face?! Does that happen to you?
D: There are a lot more negative comments than positive, yes unfortunately. [laughs]
A: No, usually the negative stuff happens online, like forums and they hate Tiny Tina, wanted her to die and that type of thing.
D: Ah yeah, the internet as a whole is a troll.
A: Yes, it is. [laughs]
D: I heard you talk about “The Binding of Isaac” and how much you like it. That is one of my favorite games. It’s a dark comedy and it’s pretty great. For those who don't know, what is it and what exactly is it that you like about it?
A: If you don't know what “The Binding of Isaac” is, it’s a rogue-like, very reminiscent of the original Zeldas, but with Rogue-like elements in it. The narrative is kind of about Edmund’s experience with Catholicism, like when he was a kid. It’s very dark and has a lot of graphical biblical images, but it’s a super fun game. I really like rogue-likes, which I guess I hate myself because they are very hard [laughs]. Binding of Isaac and Spelunky, and I got to play Crypt of the NecroDancer recently.
D: All amazing games.
A: All amazing games and all rogue-likes which I think are such an awesome use of producing player driven stories and emergent storytelling. I can't tell you how many times -- all my friends play Spelunky -- I'll be working on something on the computer and my friend will jump in to the room and say “Ashly I was so close! I got to hell and I was a level from beating Yama and the Empire comes down.” Then, I’ll do the same thing the next week and say the same thing my friend said. Games like that where you can have that shared experience are so fun.
D: Those are great, and to bring it around to Borderlands 2, I’ll be playing with three of my friends and run into a boss with my party and get so close to defeating him until the guy healing the group goes down and we immediately go down in a domino effect. It’s great to share moments like that, then you talk about it for weeks after.
A: Playing Borderlands 2 was great too, it’s a great game, A, and B, it’s a great game to catch up with people. You can go on a mission and talk about each other’s day. You can fight a boss, do a quick mission, and log off for a bit.
D: You can just go around killing stuff with your friends.
A: You can go around killing stuff. [laughs]
D: What are you playing right now?
A: I mentioned Spelunky; I've’ve been trying to get to and beat hell, I had been working on it for a long time. I finally did it in Phoenix when I was there for the holidays. I beat it. Beating Spelunky left a little hole in my heart, so I started playing Eldridge, which is another rogue-like. It’s kind of like Spelunky mixed with Dishonored.
D: Dishonored is getting really big, I’ve seen a couple cosplays at the Con here.
A: Yeah I saw Corvo, it was awesome!
D: There’s a new Thief coming out, is that in your genre?
A: Yeah, but I mean I’m kind of bad a stealth games. I talk about Metal Gear and how it’s a franchise that is very near and dear to my heart, but the way that I play Metal Gear is [excitedly] “Huh huh uh uhhh, fuck! I have to kill him; he saw me.”
D: It’s all about running around until you get caught and then go do something stealthy, at least that’s how I play stealth games as well.
A: Right, that’s the way I play stealth games, that’s not the way you’re supposed to play stealth games. Anthony [Burch] plays stealth games, and he actually plays it like a stealth game.
D: Dishonored, you have the option to go balls out and kill everything, but you have every opportunity to be stealthy and stick to the shadows. I think I tried being stealthy for about five minutes, and then just said, “fuck it.”
A: The thing is, in games where I know I can get through it non-lethally I feel bad if I kill people because I have the option to not, I’m just not good enough to not. Playing Dishonored, I was going to sneak around this guard and he saw me immediately. Probably from the guard’s perspective, I was standing in the middle of the hallway and not remotely hidden. As I was killing him, because I had to progress, I was like “I’m sorry, I’m sorry!” and that was my entire experience with Dishonored. [laughs]
Even being asked to do it a thousand times that day, Ashly generously did her Tiny Tina voice for the fans at Sac Anime. She was extremely sweet and open to talking about everything that she could in the little time we had, including a successful Kickstarter she’s involved in called Scale, in which you play with the scale of objects in the world to help solve puzzles.
Sac Anime brought tons of great moments from some of the best voice actors in the community, but not too many things can be compared to what Ashly said at the end of the interview. In character as Tiny Tina, she looked right at me and said, “Dan, you suck.” Thank you, Ashly.