Just as in movies, the music within a game is as important as the visuals. The game musician can control the mood and pacing just as much as the designer can. In this section you’ll find the answers to the most common questions we are asked about musicians in gaming, as well as a list of suggested reading materials.
- How do I become a video game musician?
- Do I need to play any instruments?
- What equipment and software do I need?
- What will I get paid?
- Where and how should I advertise my services?
- Where can I download music software?
- What is G.A.N.G.?
How do I become a video game musician?
Like any job in the computer games industry, you must have a real passion for video games, and must also have real musical talent. With those two main ingredients in place you will need to show the world how good you are.
Send examples of your work to websites and magazines to gain yourself recognition, then send your work to publishers and developers around the world. If you really want to impress people then be proactive and go along to as many expos, conferences and shows as possible where the industry will be.
Another way to get some good exposure is to produce music for people as a gesture of good will. You may know someone who needs music for a home video, someone might need music for a college presentation or even a programmer might want some music for his computer game. All these situations will help employers notice you, first hand or by word of mouth, and they will realize you want to make music because you genuinely enjoy it and you use your initiative. By producing all this music that has a specific purpose, it will give you more experience and help your skills grow.
Do I need to play any instruments?
It may seem like a silly question, but it is possible to produce amazing music on your home computer with no knowledge about playing any instruments. Even so, at the very least you should be able to play the piano/keyboards. The keyboard is the best instrument to use when inputting music into your computer, and because it is so versatile you can produce the sounds of other instruments on it at the press of a button.
There are exceptions to this advice though. If you are a member of a band, then as a band you can produce music for a video game, so you can choose whatever instrument you want to learn, from bass to guitar right through to violins.
If you enjoy mixing music, then there is still a place for you as a video games musician. Today’s games are fully realized entertainment experiences, with full symphony orchestras and other musical groups.
What equipment and software do I need?
The most important bit of kit to begin with is your PC or Mac. Both are equally good and have all the accessories and software available to them to do the job right, so take your pick.
Your computer system should ideally have:
- A high-end, prefessional sound card (SoundBlaster, Yamaha, Korg, Digidesign, etc)
- A high-end PC (2 Ghz+)
- Fast and large hard drive (200 GB, 7200 rpm or faster)
- CD-R writer
- High-quality 5.1 speakers
- High-speed DSL/Cable connection
- Synthesizer (and the requisite software)
- High quality microphone(s)
- DAT recorder and/or minidisc
Now that you’ve kitted yourself out with all the essential hardware, you’ll need some software to run on that computer. The most important piece of software you’ll need is the audio editor. The audio editor will allow you to manipulate, record and mix sounds amongst other things. On the PC, two popular titles are Sonic Foundry’s Sound Forge and Steinberg’s Wavelab, while a cheaper option is Syntrillium’s Cool Edit. For Macs, try Digital Performer or Peak.
You might find sequencing software useful so you can put all your sound effects to a piece of animation or video for instance. Cubase is a popular choice, available for both PC and Mac; so too is Logic Audio.
What will I get paid?
Even though you want to do this for the love of sound and games, it’s still nice to know how much you will be rewarded. Talented and experienced sound engineers are usually very well looked after, with salaries over $100K. But if you’re just starting out, expect to earn something much lower, such as $40K. Looking ahead, with the increasing demand for DVD, the need for more higher quality sound effects will increase along with the fees.
Where and how should I advertise my services?
You can advertise your services many different ways, so try them all!
As mentioned before, go to all the video game expos, conferences and shows. Meet the people in the industry, tell them that you exist and that you have something to offer.
Create a CD to demonstrate all your best work, and make sure it is your best work. It’s better to put only a few of your best sample mixes than everything you’ve ever done. You’ll bore the person listening if you include every single sound effect you’ve ever made; just let them listen to the best of you. Send this CD to all the companies you can think of.
Create your own Web site to promote yourself, and offer samples of your best work for download. Contact a programmer or artist, and offer to trade skills — add your sound to their demo reels in exchange for their help.
Advertise your services on the Internet. There are many music and sound resources and communities on the ‘net which you can advertise yourself.
Where can I download music software?
Not only can you find free software, but there will be all the links to everything mentioned on this page and more.
What is G.A.N.G.?
The first organization which focuses on the advancement of interactive audio and the community surrounding it.
The Game Audio Network Guild (G.A.N.G.) is a non-profit organization established to educate the masses in regards to interactive audio by providing information, instruction, resources, guidance and enlightenment not only to its members, but to content providers and listeners throughout the world. G.A.N.G. empowers its members by establishing resources for education, business, technical issues, community, publicity and recognition. G.A.N.G. also supports career development and education for aspiring game audio professionals, publishers, developers and students.
G.A.N.G. is a resource for composers, sound designers, programmers, musicians, actors, engineers, producers, designers, directors and others who have a genuine interest in interactive audio. By banding together and providing one voice , members can better articulate, discuss and confront issues inside the interactive entertainment community.
One of the main focuses and goals of G.A.N.G. is to encourage and promote the creation of better sounding audio which advances interactive industries by helping produce more competitive and entertaining products.
G.A.N.G. provides a sense of community to its fellowship and the interactive community through the sharing of knowledge and experience among members and related organizations industry-wide. G.A.N.G. promotes quality and the recognition of quality through the annual G.A.N.G. Awards, G.A.N.G. Seal of Approval program, and various membership levels.
Video games, websites, location based entertainment, PDA’s, cell phones, toys, hand-helds, edutainment, gambling machines and/or any other forms of interactive entertainment or media is covered under the G.A.N.G. umbrella. The G.A.N.G. website (www.audiogang.org) provides an amazing wealth of information pertaining to the interactive audio universe and the people working in or aspiring to be a part of it.