That Wizard Came From The Moon: A defence of Peter Dinklage in Destiny

You might have heard a few rumblings on the internet during Destiny's Alpha weekend recently that Peter Dinklage's performance in the game is... well, not exactly Tyrion Lannister. But, having spent some time playing the game myself, I think Dinklage is shaping up to be a cool companion on your Guardian's adventure.

Although we've heard snippets of Dinklage in action as Ghost, your character's A.I companion, in previous footage from trailers and whatnot, it wasn't until this recent PS4 Alpha test that we got to actually hear a decent chunk of him in action. Here's a section from an early story mission that I captured from the Alpha called The Darkness Within, which has a bit of Dinklage's voiceover in it:

(The bulk of it is in the first few minutes and then the last minute, if you want to skip the bit where I flail around shooting things - to be fair, it was the first time I'd played!)

In a way I understand a lot of the criticism of Dinklage's raw performance - he sounds disinterested, flat, perhaps even a little bored (some people have singled out the almost memetic quality of the line "That Wizard came from the Moon" as symbolic of the terrible performance, but personally I will defend the idea of a robot nonchalantly telling me that this alien space-magic wizard should have been on the moon instead of on earth and what an absurdity that is, to the hilt. But that's just me.) - but in the context of just who, or perhaps what, Dinklage is playing, it makes total sense to me. If he was voicing a human or alien character, the performance might seem oddly duff for a man who's given us plenty of passionate, emotive roles in the past, his starring turn as Tyrion in Game of Thrones in particular stands in stark contrast here.

That Wizard Came From The Moon: A defence of Peter Dinklage in Destiny

But Dinklage isn't playing a human or an alien even, he's playing an A.I construct: and suddenly it makes sense that his base reading is quite flat in tone. Sure, we've had charming A.I in sci-fi before, take GLaDOS from Portal or even a look back at Bungie's own work with 343 Guilty Spark in the Halo series, but the idea of the unemotive A.I voice is an old and tried-and-tested concept. Dinklage isn't aiming for GLaDOS, and if anything a GLaDOS-esque performance might overpower his presence and role in the story as your guide and narrator - who knows, we've not seen enough of the game to even know just how Ghost's role will expand in the story, or even if it does - he's aiming for something instead more akin to Hal 9000 in 2001 or Kevin Spacey's GERTY in Moon. It makes the rare moments of emotion that do come through - Ghost's initial shock at the Hive's appearance in the story, or his jokey 'So you know, no pressure!' after delivering a heroic pep talk in the latest E3 trailer - all the more potent, because it's so different to what you've come to expect from Ghost. Is it the greatest performance from Dinklage? Probably not, Tyrion Lannister still holds that crown, but it's nowhere near as bad as some have made out.

The one problem I do have with Dinklage's performance though, is that he doesn't sound like a robotic voice in the Alpha, and it's really jarring. If anything, despite knowing his role in the game, I was surprised at how human he sounded when you first bring out Ghost for the first time. He could really do with some voice modulation over the performance to emphasise his robotic, A.I nature - but, this was an Alpha and despite the polish it had, not everything was finalised. Ghost has plenty more filtering in Destiny's E3 trailer 'New Beginnings', which gives us a whole lot of Dinklage to listen to:

And it sounds much better. The flat tone is still there, the performance is still in there, it's just improved by the post production - it's a much more 'complete' version than what we've seen so far. Ghost sounds like an A.I now, instead of just Peter Dinklage.

That Wizard Came From The Moon: A defence of Peter Dinklage in Destiny


So keep on keeping on, Mr. Dinklage - I look forward to you robotically telling me about all the space-moon-wizard monsters in Destiny's beta and beyond later this year.

[Excellent Peter Dinklage 'Hope' parody poster via NeoGAF user ThatsMytrunks]