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) has its own AI assistant in the form of EMMA. But what you may not immediately notice is that EMMA is played by the woman who expressed the original Siri.
Susan Bennett is a professional voice actor best known for lending her talents to Apple’s Siri Assistant from the start in 2011 to the iOS 7 update in 2013. Bennett’s voice was recorded in 2005 by a company called ScanSoft, a secret project which she did not realize was for Apple until Siri was launched years later. Apple will still not officially confirm that Bennett is Siri, however a CNN investigation in 2013 concluded with 100% certainty from experts in audio medicine that she is the voice of the personal assistant.
Fast forward to today and the release of Persona 5 Strikers outside Japan. In the game, EMMA serves many of the same features as Siri in the real world. It finds shops nearby, plans itineraries, makes schedules and can even suggest things like what to take on a camping trip. The teenage protagonists quickly realize how useful it is and download it on all their phones. A selection of EMMA’s voice can be found below (jump to 9:44 if the time stamp does not work).
In the spirit of avoiding spoilers for a game released today, I just want to say that EMMA is still an integral part of history from then on, but Bennett’s work is easy to miss if you, like me, play with Japanese voices . This connection was first brought to my attention by the Twitter user resolution route, which described the location team’s hiring of Bennett as “the biggest flex” in her original tweet, and Kotaku has since confirmed this is the case.
Since filming for Siri in the Aughts, Bennett has continued to give his voice to a number of projects, with customers ranging from Coca Cola and McDonald’s to Ford and Goodyear. Persona 5 Strikers may be her first major concert in the video game industry, but she completely nails the “soulless AI that can actually have bad intentions” things I think the game goes for with EMMA. I’m guessing her time as Siri prepared her for it.