Skyrim porn mods spark voice actor backlash over AI deepfakes

Skyrim mod NSFW
A character from the mod Amorous Adventures Revoiced - Ysolda, which uses AI generated voices. (Image credit: Bethesda / Flashgreer)

More and more Skyrim mods, including more than a few on the M-rated side, are using AI-generated voices based on real voice actors. Some of those actors have now publicly decried the practice of scraping and cloning performances without permission, especially for pornographic purposes. 

AI voice work is not a new controversy, but it's become significantly more prevalent in the Skyrim modding scene in recent months on the back of the AI tool ElevenLabs, which got off the ground in 2022 and slowly gathered momentum among Skyrim modders. The official stance of Nexus Mods, which in April 2023 ruled that "AI-generated mod content is not against our rules," also added fuel to the fire. 

AI has fairly recently been used to give voices to the Dragonborn, some Skyrim NPC companions, and plenty of other characters. Naturally, it was only a matter of time before the technology reached explicit mods, which have been a step too far for some. 

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A lengthy new post from Twitter user Robbie92 argues "voice actors are being abused by the modding communities" which are using "AI voice cloning to create and distribute non-consensual deepfake pornographic content." 

The post includes a list of voice actors whose performances have allegedly been used in Skyrim porn mods. While I've been unable to verify all the affected actors for myself by ear alone – there is an ocean of Skyrim porn mods, people, and AI mods tend not to credit the voices they've cloned – Robbie92 also shared a hefty document linking to dozens of mods that unabashedly use AI voices, frequently via ElevenLabs. Indeed, many of the Skyrim projects on Nexus Mods that are tagged AI-generated even invite users to further remix or adjust artificial voices. 

This post has reignited debate over the morality of AI voice acting in mods and directed portions of the internet's ongoing deepfake deliberation to the Skyrim mod community. Initial responses from voice actors, including many who've worked on The Elder Scrolls series or Skyrim specifically, have not been welcoming. 


(Image credit: Skyrim)

"This is really disturbing," said Elisa Gabrielli, who voiced Maven Black-Briar in Skyrim and has contributed to dozens of other games. "I'll look into it." 

"If you find my voice in one of these situations, please let me know so I can ask that it be taken down," adds Ben Diskin, whose numerous video game voice credits include The Elder Scrolls Online. "I do not consent to my biometric data being used for these purposes."

Voice actor Kyle McCarley, who's perhaps best known for many anime roles but has also voiced in several games including The Elder Scrolls Online, echoed Diskin's stance: "Please tell me if you find my voice print somewhere like this. I don't want people using AI to put words in my mouth." 

Abbey Veffer, who voiced several characters in Genshin Impact and The Elder Scrolls Online: Necrom, wrote: "If you find my voice in one of these mods, please let me know so I can request that it be taken down. I do not, and never will, consent to my voice being used for AI synthesis, cloning, deepfakes, etc. This is NOT okay."

I reached out to Veffer to get more of her thoughts on the issue. She referred me to a recent piece from KCRW discussing the consequences of deepfakes, and affirmed that she has "been impersonated on Twitter via AI voice synthesis twice, and doxxed once, so you can imagine how I feel about all this." 

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(Image credit: Bethesda)

"This is WRONG on every level!" agrees Ryan Laughton, whose voice can be found in the likes of Diablo 4, Hitman 2, and Return of the Obra Dinn. "It’s disturbing. WTF is wrong with people, AI voice cloning is out of hand. Do not support the AI replication of VA’s voices in any way shape or form. Please let me know if you ever encounter my voice being used like this. I do not give consent."

Common counter-arguments in favor of AI voice mods include creative freedom, lack of profit incentive, and the inability to source paid voice work. Prompted by the spread of AI Skyrim porn, several voice actors have gone after these arguments in particular.

"The act of taking an actor's voice without their consent and making it say anything, ESPECIALLY nsfw content is fucking heinous," says Zane Schacht. In response to one user who pointed out that AI voices can make it easier to make more ambitious mods, like voiced story quests, Schacht added: "If you want voice acting, pay an actor. If you can't afford an actor, ask around and see if someone will do it for free.  If you can't find one to do it for free, you don't get voice acting." 

Speaking with GamesRadar+, Schacht reiterated that while he sees all AI voices as "unethical garbage," whether it's US presidents playing Overwatch or David Attenborough reading Warhammer lore, "once you add sexual content into the mix, the issue of consent takes on a whole new meaning." 

"It's one thing to grab an actor's voice and make it say a silly meme," he said. "It's another to make them engage in sexual acts. I have nothing against NSFW mods. I have nothing against NSFW art. But at the core of this is a fundamental disrespect for the original voice actor. Seeing them as pure data to be molded and not an individual. Consent is everything. And if you're creating sexual content without consent of the involved parties, that's just vile." 

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(Image credit: Bethesda)

It's true that many independent modders can't afford, or don't want to pay for, original voice acting, but the argument that it's totally inaccessible to mods quickly falls apart given the wealth of voiced projects. Just this April, a group of Hollow Knight fans and over 100 voice actors added voices to over 400 characters. 

In the Bethesda space, mega mods like Fallout: London have been requesting voice actors for years. These projects are obviously larger than a talking digital sex doll that some dude made for Skyrim, but this goes back to Schacht's argument that if you can't afford an actor or find a volunteer, maybe you shouldn't then pervert an established actor's performance without their consent. 

Marc Swint, who you may have heard in Smite or Street Fighter 5, took aim at NSFW opportunities: "There are LOTS of voice talents working specifically in the NSFW scene available for SFM and Blender animations, etc. Please, if you're working on sexy animations, reach out to them and respect their rates. Don't use A.I. Voice Cloning. ESPECIALLY not for this purpose." 

Nexus Mods previously said it may remove AI-generated content in response to a "credible complaint from a party who feels [a mod] is damaging to them," including a voice actor or asset owner. It also advised users to "avoid using these tools unless you have explicit permission to use all the assets," but voice actor consent has clearly been ignored by many. Nexus Mods even added that "this is particularly true for AI-generated voice acting," but that hasn't stemmed the tide.


(Image credit: Bethesda)

The site does have a DMCA form for projects using content deemed stolen or inappropriately used, but it's unclear how effective this route may be for voice actors given the sheer quantity of AI mods to fight as well as the legal red tape that comes with video game copyright and performance ownership. I've reached out to Nexus Mods for comment on the situation with Skyrim and an update on its stance on AI voice acting.  

Schacht was not optimistic about options available to voice actors against these mods: "The gruesome realization I've come to is that if an actor has their voice used to create a template and has that template say awful things without their consent, the only thing that could stop such a thing from happening is the moral compass of the modder to begin with. And in the last few days I have seen the moral fortitude of some of these modders and found it severely lacking." 

"If you really want to see the ugliness of people," Schacht added, "see how they react when you tell them 'No.' No, you cannot use my voice and likeness against my will. No, you cannot make me say the meme. People go feral, and the mask comes off."

Sometimes I miss the days when mods were more like this Skyrim Grimace shake, which may or may not kill you.  

Austin Wood

Austin freelanced for the likes of PC Gamer, Eurogamer, IGN, Sports Illustrated, and more while finishing his journalism degree, and he's been with GamesRadar+ since 2019. They've yet to realize that his position as a staff writer is just a cover up for his career-spanning Destiny column, and he's kept the ruse going with a focus on news and the occasional feature.