FINAL FANTASY VA Julie Nathanson On How Video Games Can Help Resolve An Existential Crisis (Exclusive)

We recently got the opportunity to catch up with voice actress Julie Nathanson about her roles in the Final Fantasy franchise and the psychology master explained how playing the titles can be cathartic.

Spanning decades, the Final Fantasy Japanese Role Playing Game franchise has burgeoned into an extensive universe with countless titles. In addition to the mainline games currently focusing on the sixteenth installment, there are at least double that in spin-offs and side titles.

Voice actress Julie Nathanson is a veteran in the Final Fantasy arena, having lent her voice to multiple characters and across numerous games. Using her exceptional vocal talents, she has brought Chocolina, Prishe, Hana Kohl, Chocolatte, Holly, Aerus, and others to life.

After getting her start as Prishe in Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy, she voiced many other characters in Final Fantasy XIII-2, Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, Final Fantasy Type-0 HD, Final Fantasy Explorers, Mobius Final Fantasy, World of Final Fantasy, Final Fantasy XV, Final Fantasy VII Remake, and Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered.

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When we had previously spoken with Julie, a few fans had mentioned their own questions in the comments section, so we brought her back on for a fresh video interview. We got clarification on some of those points and updates on our own tidbits.

Comic Book Move and Toonado user Amuro had submitted questions regarding Julie's roles in Final Fantasy, and given her extensive answer, we jumped on that conversation. Knowing that she holds a master's in psychology, we prodded her mind to see if that's what gives her the specific outlook that she has on the medium of games, and we got an extremely well-worded answer that's sure to resonate with anyone who has ever touched the franchise.

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"When I started voicing video games, I started to be aware of Final Fantasy very quickly. And there was something about its aesthetic, even never playing, that made me want to be a part of it. So then I really got a handle on the idea that it was sort of this family of games. And it was like a little personal goal. So when I was cast as Prishe, which, to answer your question, was absolutely an audition. I was ecstatic because I wasn't positive if it was Final Fantasy, but I saw that it was Square Enix, and I just remember being so excited, and I was really giddy. And I was like, thank you for bringing me into the family! And from then on, they've been so kind to me, and I really do mean that. They've all been so collaborative and generous, and I've had the pleasure and the opportunity to play a lot of different fun characters across their entire breadth.

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In terms of playing, a lot of voice actors will tell you the same thing I will, which is when you're so busy it's hard to play. We are so busy, it is hard to play, but I also know myself pretty well, and if I really let myself go down the video game rabbit hole, I don't know how I would crawl out of it. To me, one of the things that are so beautiful about games is that they have the potential to help resolve an existential crisis. To me, it's not just about mortality. It's about the fact that our lives can go in infinite directions, but we will only ever know the one path we take.

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And with games, we have this opportunity to inhabit a character that perhaps might feel like ourselves or a fantasy version of ourselves and explore the possibilities. And then even play the game again and make different choices, the things we can't do in real life. So I know for myself that would be really tempting because I always want to see every possibility. So instead, I stick to voicing them, and I watch a lot of cutscenes. I really like to see not just what I've done, but I do check up on that stuff. I want to see how the performance came across; I want to see the collaboration at the end. But I also like to keep up with what's happening in the industry and what's being created, and what stories are being told.

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I think it's much more my perspective. It's certainly not something that I remember being taught in graduate school. But I think I am deeply aware of how much I love the concept of possibility, the concept of curiosity, trying to shift uncertainty into anticipation, excitement, and wonder. And those are all reframes that I work within myself, so being able to see this wide and overwhelming landscape of a video game world as an opportunity to explore something that I can't in my more limited waking life is something that feels peaceful to me, and I love being a part of it. So I think it comes a little bit more from perhaps a blend of that introspection that I come with and I'm sure some schooling and understanding of psychology, and the ways that we're all trying to soothe whatever discomfort we might have."

What do you guys think about Julie's comments? Be sure to share your thoughts in the usual spot and check out the fully immersive video interview below!

Julie can currently be heard as Gilda Dent in Batman: The Long Halloween.

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