If you love melodies, you might be hoping to learn how to compose music for video games. You’ll collaborate with game developers and create both thematic and incidental chords audible throughout the game, but to arrive at this point, you must first complete a few crucial steps.
How to Compose Music for Video Games
The first step is to amp up your technical chops. Video game sound designers need great tech skills, meaning you’ll have to master different hardware and software platforms. Even if you’re already talented in sound design, you’ll need to study popular applications like FMOD and Wwise. Additional knowledge of run-time parameter controls, reverb zones, and sound effects will give you a huge advantage over composers who only know ProTools or a similar digital audio workstation (DAW).
Music Theory and Versatility
You won’t necessarily collaborate with other musicians on a video game design team, but you will be expected to write a substantial amount of music in a short time. You’ll therefore need to fully grasp how music functions. An education in harmony, orchestration, and counterpoint will help you meet the job’s demands.
Because game music comes in all styles, from horror to adorable pet music, you must have a versatile repertoire. Regardless of the sound, you’re asked to create, you need to be able to do it – but in your own voice. You don’t want to be another copycat, but a composer in your own right who can craft unique and engaging sounds.
Play the Video Games
You can’t design quality game sounds without first playing the games. This will give you a much clearer understanding of what the competition is doing as well as what games are out there. In turn, you’ll be able to hold a meaningful conversation with a game developer and answer questions posed by potential employers.
Create a Top-Notch Demo Reel
Your best work should be featured on a demo that is available online, where others can easily find it and hear your abilities. But to really stand out, you need to create a MOD for a game. Doing this requires filling in your own music on a portion of an existing game. An interactive demo like this will help you rise above 95% of the other sound designers out there.
Make Yourself Visible
It’s important to make yourself visible by attending events like the Game Developers Conference. Also check out game jams, where sound designers, artists, and programmers meet for a weekend to collaborate. You can additionally volunteer to speak at schools, conferences, and other venues to make yourself widely known as an expert.
Last but not least, market yourself by networking in-person and online whenever possible. Don’t be afraid to talk about your talents, but do so in a way that contributes to the community at large. Join relevant social media groups and become engaged in online forums. Also, answer questions from others, post your own questions, and mention you’re looking for work when the time is right.
How much can a Video Game Music Composer make?
Video Game Music Composers in the US can make between $25,000 and $220,000. The salary is dependant on creative credits and experience within the creative field.
If you’re ready to begin your career composing music for video games, start by expanding your education. Learn the most popular sound platforms, understand music theory, and diversify your portfolio. Once your demo is made, you can market yourself on social media and connect to industry professionals at conferences and other events.