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Student Guide to Game Audio: Continuation...

This is the starting blog to a series I've called 'A Student Guide to Game Audio' which you can follow up on at http://www.dustincrenna.com

Dustin Crenna

April 23, 2014

7 Min Read

So to keep up with things on this section of the blog I’ve decided to post the first rough sketch chapter of the book I was going to write, which this blog is replacing.

Here it is, in all it’s unedited and unchecked glory. I’ll have more to post soon, and if you’re a student or anyone else that has an interest in game audio feel free to ask a question!


“Chapter 1: Now What? (unfinished book by Dustin Crenna)

Well, exactly. Now what? It’s a pretty big question to ask because once you answer it you’ve decided the path you’re going to follow. Before we explore this question I just want to reiterate how extremely difficult it can be to start a career in game audio. I don’t want to scare anyone off. I just really want you to be absolutely sure this is what you want, because it’s going to take an extreme amount of time and effort to achieve success. Some people may find work quite easily (and I know some people who have). From my own experiences though it can take a lot of time. I worked at it for over three years after graduating from college before I could call myself a full-time sound designer at a video game company. Do you have three years (or more) to spare? Do you even want to spare them? You could go to (or back to) school and graduate in three years. Sometimes I wish I had gone back to school and switched careers to something which was easier to find work in (such as programming). But I knew deep down I wouldn’t be happy and that game audio was where I wanted to be.

Alright, I’m sure you get the point. It’s hard. But not impossible. And you’re still reading this so you still want to do it. So, the ‘now what?’ part. You’ve decided you want to pursue a career in game audio. Now you figure out where you stand in terms of talent and skill. If you have absolutely no experience whatsoever and don’t know the first thing about creating a sound effect, or you feel like you need mentoring from experienced professionals, then you have a few options. When I finished high school I really had no clue what I wanted to do with my life. I played the guitar, I wrote music, I played a ton of video games. At that point in time my life goals were to become a rock star and not much else. A last minute trip to my guidance counsellor’s office paved the way to my future. Through that meeting I had learned about a music production program at a college not too far from where I was living. It focused on all aspects of the music industry and taught you how to record music in a professional recording studio! The perfect place to follow my rock star dreams. It was the start of my second year there that I learned about what post-production sound was and the art of sound design. After getting my feet wet creating sound effects for some video clips I was hooked. The rock star dream died and the sound design for video games dream was born.

The point I’m making in the above paragraph is that college is always an option. It may be the best option for anyone starting out. With most game industry job listings you’ll notice the requirements ask for some form of post-secondary education. Game industry jobs are highly sought after and super competitive. You’ll want to do whatever you can to get the advantage. The audio team at the studio I was working had six people in it. All six of us were post-secondary school graduates of audio related courses. Though going to school doesn’t guarantee success, but it can help.

If college isn’t your thing you might be able to learn everything on your own. I know someone who opted to spend the money he was saving for school on building his own recording studio setup. With that studio he put in the hours needed to become a master at his craft. He worked hard, read books, and wrote music. From this he was able to land an in-house position as a composer and sound designer for a game company where he worked on some very reputable titles. Granted that was nearly fifteen years ago and the whole landscape has changed drastically. Though nothing is impossible. You may want to, if you’re going this route, look into volunteering at any recording and post production facilities that may be around your area. It also wouldn’t hurt your chances at all if you happened to find these facilities located in the same cities as some game studios. This way you get the real-world, hands-on experience required to learn the trade and you can use this when applying for work. The more professional sounding material you can put in your portfolio the better. We’ll cover portfolios/resumes/demos in a later chapter.

For me it just happened to work out in my favour that the college I attended was located in a city that was home to two major game studios at the time, and I ended up working at both of them. One of my college professor’s favourite sayings which he used often throughout my college career was, ‘You have to be present to win!’. Meaning of course you have to be up front and center in the eyes of the people you’re trying to impress to get the job. You have to learn about everything you can and put in the effort required to get to where you need to be. You have to do just that ‘one more thing’ which will put you above your competition. I’ve seen many people give up their dreams of working in the game industry and go on to do other things. If you stick it out long enough your competition will thin as people move on. You have to be the one that stays.

In the years leading up to my big break, I worked at some really crappy jobs. The great thing about working at a job you hate is that it motivates you to get out. It reminds you that what you’re currently doing is not what you want to spend the rest of your life at and gives you that burning feeling in your stomach to do whatever it takes to escape. At least it did for me. It should for you as well.”


You can always keep up-to-date with the latest blog posts at http://www.dustincrenna.com

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