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  • How to Break into Game Audio

    [12.14.06]
    - Vincent Diamante

  • Before we get started, let me clarify one thing: Breaking into the game audio industry is difficult. That's game audio, not game music, game effects, or anything else you'd like to call it.

    Still with me? Excellent, because that's something that you may have to wrap your head around. Whether you're into music or abstract soundscapes, ADR or foley, mixing or field recording, you're going to be touching all components of audio production early and often as you make your way into the game industry.

    Don't worry if there are things in the audio world that you haven't touched. Very few people come out of school or wherever they were knowing everything there is to know about every facet of audio in the games world. All that means, though, is that you should be willing to tackle anything and everything that a development team can throw at you.

    And they will throw everything, because more likely than not, you will be the only person thinking about anything audio related in the game. But we'll get back to that in a bit. First we need to make sure that you've done the preparations to get that first gig ...

    Presence for Everyone

    So you have a website, right? If you said no, I suggest you go get one right now. A domain name, webspace, and bandwidth can be had for less than the cost of a fast food lunch these days. Besides having a catchy domain name to replace your old @yahoo.com or @school.edu address with some professional flair, you'll need a place where people can easily see what you have to offer. Resume, CV, and a demo reel should all be easily accessible.

    I can't tell you exactly what to put on that demo reel; however, it should be reflective of not only your ability, but also your passions. While a diverse showing in your demo reel is a good thing, don't simply add something for the sake of plugging into a perceived hole. If dilapidated space ships and B-movie robots are not your cup of tea, you shouldn't feel compelled to add some more soundscapes of creaking metal and old servos to your reel. Far better to concentrate on something you want to work on and communicate what it is you're passionate about. If the right person hears it, maybe the resultant gig will also be something you can be passionate about.

    But how to get that gig? In the vast majority of video game development companies out there, audio positions are few and far between, vastly outnumbered by the art and programming masses that make up the majority of the development team. Which is not to say that it's impossible to grab an entry level position or internship in audio at a big company like Electronic Arts or Activision. The demand and turnover isn't as high as in other positions, but openings do happen.

    If the planets aren't aligned, however, there's always something outside of BigGameCompany's Next-Gen Killer App that needs the aural touch. Maybe it's an acquaintance's vanity project, or the RPG that a group of friends are finally sitting down to make. Of course, searching locally and within immediate network branches aren't the only options. Just as the halls of film schools around the country are littered with ads for composers searching for student films to score, so too are forums and websites like garagegames.com, gamedev.net, and even craigslist.org. True, you likely won't be working on a AAA title for the WiiStation 360.

    It does however lead to some other perks.

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