Written by Lance Hayes
readers of Keyboard Magazine, I write music and create sound design for media. Historically,
I’ve made a nice niche for myself with licensing, studio and soundtrack work.
In 2005, I added game audio to that list and that quickly became my fastest growing
Since then, I’ve
scored and created sound design for everything from casual games to AAA titles
designed for the PC tohandheld devices and major game consoles. This list includes small
games to massive projects. I’ve been to a multitude of conferences, networking
like crazy. I’ve also delved into the dark art of implementation and come out
in one piece. In the end, I can tell you one thing with unwavering certainty;
there is a lot to know about game
I’ve spent a
fair amount of time getting up to speed with current practices and standards. As
I segued from game fan to game professional, one of the first things I had to
wrap my head around was the scope of the gaming field and the role that
composers play in it.
and music are big components in the current landscape, and they allow for some of
the amazing experiences that make gaming such a fast growing, compelling and
complex nature of the beast I thought that a little background might be
VG Music and History
common knowledge that games are the biggest selling entertainment format in the
world right now. Since they are less expensive to produce than Hollywood blockbusters
and come with a steeper price tag than going to a first run film, they are able
to produce huge profits for the studios and publishers.
comparison in profits this year has been “Avatar” and “Call
of Duty Modern Warfare2”.
Avatar and CoDMW2, scored by Hanz Zimmer were both released about the
same time and have both pulled down over a billion dollars in sales. What many
articles don’t tell you is that the update to the franchise “Call of Duty:
Black Ops” had the single biggest
launch event of all time and has also scored over a billion
dollars in sales for Activision.
speaking, in 2004, video games collectively became a $10
billion industry in the US alone. In 2009, they had grown to about $20
billion and this year’s sales are looking stronger than 2009.
wasn’t always that way. If you are interested in the historical development of music
in this fledgling industry, there is a wonderful piece on GameSpot by Glenn
McDonald titled “A
Brief History of Video Game Music”. It covers everything from Pong to the
early part of this century. And of course Wikipedia has articles on both the
history of video game music and the history of video games. That should get you started.
Helpful Game Links
good sources of game and game music information include:
IASIG a nonprofit that is focused on creating standards and
educating the game audio industry
Gamasutra one of the best sources of
information on the net about game development
G4TV.com fantastic source for breaking gaming
Audio G.A.N.G. is a resource for composers and
sound designers in the game industry and its membership votes on the annual
GANG awards handed out at the Game Developer’s
Conference in San Francisco every year
Down the Line
I have found
that many folks at every level in this industry are generous, gracious and
willing to share their knowledge. I’d like to think that this blog may be my
opportunity to do the same for a new generation of composers looking for
information on becoming game composers themselves.
In future blogs I’ll talk about the tools of the trade, specific
experiences I’ve had and discuss some of the challenges that a composer faces
when he is creating original pieces for use in games.
Author bio: Lance Hayes is also known as DJ Drunken Master and is a keyboardist, synthesist, and leading composer of music for video games. Most recently, he composed the soundtrack for Microsoft's Forza Motorsport 3 title. Find out more at www.djdm.com.