Artificial intelligences like Apple’s Siri have become so ubiquitous in many people’s lives that it’s no wonder the story of Persona 5 Strikers (out today on Playstation 4, Switch, and PC) features its own AI assistant in the form of EMMA. But what you might not immediately notice is that EMMA is played by the woman who voiced the original Siri.
Susan Bennett is a professional voice actor best known for lending her talents to Apple’s Siri assistant from its inception in 2011 until the iOS 7 update in 2013. Bennett’s voice was recorded in 2005 by a company named ScanSoft, a secretive project that she didn’t realize was for Apple until Siri launched years later. Apple still won’t officially confirm that Bennett is Siri, but a CNN investigation in 2013 concluded, with 100% certainty from audio forensics experts, that she is the voice of the personal assistant.
Fast forward to today and the release of Persona 5 Strikers outside of Japan. In the game, EMMA serves many of the same functions as Siri in the real world. It finds nearby stores, plots travel routes, makes schedules, and can even suggest stuff like what to bring on a camping trip. The teenage main characters quickly realize how useful it is and download it on all their phones. A sample of EMMA’s voice can be found below (jump to 9:44 if the timestamp doesn’t work).
In the spirit of avoiding spoilers for a game that released today, I’ll just say EMMA remains an integral part of the story from then on, but Bennett’s work is easy to miss if, like me, you’re playing with Japanese voices. This connection was first brought to my attention by Twitter user resolutionroute, who described the localization team’s hiring of Bennett as “the biggest flex” in her original tweet, and Kotaku has since confirmed this is the case.
Since recording for Siri in the aughts, Bennett has gone on to provide her voice to a variety of projects, with clients ranging from Coca Cola and McDonald’s to Ford and Goodyear. Persona 5 Strikers might be her first major gig in the video game industry, but she totally nails the whole “soulless AI that might actually have ill intentions” thing I think the game is going for with EMMA. I’m guessing her time as Siri prepared her for that.