Composing scores for video games is a viable career path for many aspiring music fans, and there are a lot of different opportunities out there at the moment.
Everything from casual mobiles games and online casino sites like Casumo to the latest and greatest titles for consoles from developers including Epic Games and Ubisoft will need a skilled composer to soundtrack the on-screen action. So if you are eager to get into this professional niche, what will you need to bring to the table to bag the job of your dreams?
Education & training
In many respects, a video game music composer is no different from composers who work in TV and film, especially when it comes to their educational background and general skills.
It is a given that video game composers should be able to read and write music, along with the kinds of capabilities and strong foundational experience that comes with attending well-regarded institutions of musical instruction.
Having a degree in music composition, or a related subject in this sphere will give you the edge over-enthusiastic amateurs. Indeed many establishments offer degree courses that are explicitly marketed as helping to prepare students for work across all creative industries, including video games.
Of course, it is worth noting that not every video game composer working today has a degree in this field; in fact some of the best-known names in the business never had this kind of formal training. Even so, for anyone starting from scratch, making educational choices that contribute to your intended career can certainly be sensible.
Equipment & software
As the most composition is carried out using digital tools, building up a good level of experience using platforms that are considered to be the industry standard is necessary if you want to work on video game music.
Pro Tools from Avid is a good example of a widely deployed music-making software suite which also has a free basic version available to anyone. This means you can tinker with it and build your skills in your spare time without having to spend a penny.
Logic is another solution, this time aimed at Apple users rather than Windows acolytes, that is also an asset for budding composers who want to build tracks piece by piece. Meanwhile, solutions like Sibelius are useful for dealing with notation and making compositions shareable.
The advantage of working in music composition rather than other aspects of video game development is that the software used for composing is relatively lightweight. Even a modestly powerful modern laptop should be enough to help you get started, so you do not need to splash big bucks on a high-end desktop Mac or Windows PC.
Enthusiasm & knowledge
You can have an impeccable educational history and a huge amount of experience with modern music-making software and equipment, but unless you are able to demonstrate a passion for video games and an understanding of the role that audio plays in them, you will have a tough time grabbing the attention of prospective employers.
All video game composers are keen gamers themselves, and simply playing a range of different titles on a regular basis should help you to keep your ear to the ground and stay on top of the trends that are shaping the creative direction of the industry at the moment.
On top of this enthusiasm and knowledge of gaming, you also need to be willing to start at the bottom of the ladder and work your way up. Most video game composers work as freelancers, hired to take on individual projects, rather than necessarily sticking with the same studio all the time, even if a good relationship can be struck up and sustained in many cases.
All of this means that a video game music composer needs to be very good at self-motivation since achieving anything in this segment of the interactive entertainment industry requires lots of proactive choices to be made. Becoming a composer is not something you can just stumble into; like all of the things in life that are worth having, you have to work for it.