Leave Luck to Games presents the first in a new series called “Industry Focus”. Here industry insiders give a brief overview of their career and offer advice to people looking to start a career in the games industry.
My name is Will Morton, and I have been working in game audio since 1998. As a child I grew up playing games in the 1980s, and in many cases I found I loved the music as much as I loved the games. I got into writing music freelance, then moved into game audio full time as an in-house sound designer at Rockstar North. I worked at Rockstar North for 12 years, responsible for the dialogue and sound design for the Grand Theft Auto series of games, and also for other games published by Rockstar such as Red Dead Redemption and LA Noire. After working as Dialogue Supervisor on Grand Theft Auto V and releasing it at the end of 2013, I left the in-house life and recently started an audio production company called Solid Audioworks with another ex-Rockstar North colleague, Craig Conner (director and producer of the soundtracks for the GTA series since the first game in 1997)
If I was to offer advice to someone starting out who wanted to get into game audio, I would say that it is probably tougher to get your foot in the door now than it ever has been, even though there are probably more opportunities and games being published. Having said that, here are a few paragraphs of advice that will help you stand out from the crowd.
These days a lot of people applying for game audio jobs come from university and college audio courses, and I have seen many applications and show reels from people who use the projects they worked on as part of their education as their demo. Nine times out of ten, these show reels are almost always the same – the same sound-to-picture demos, the same sound design techniques… it makes it difficult as an employer to judge what has been creatively designed by the applicant, and what has been produced by simply ‘joining the dots’ on a brief for a piece of college work. There are tons of talented sound engineers out there, so you really have to do something to separate yourself from the crowd.
If you are coming from a college or university background, definitely don’t rely on your course work to demonstrate your skills. While you are studying, make sure you work on your own projects outside college – get involved with people making games, get involved with filmmakers.
Just get *something* done that is high quality and unique compared to what all the other graduates will be putting on their show reels. If you have taken time to create something spectacular rather than relying on what you were told to do as part of a course it shows that you are motivated, dedicated, and above all else it shows you have a genuine passion for what you are doing.
It always puzzled me how many people turn up for an interview for a game job not knowing anything about games. Game developers are usually gamers (or at least ex-gamers) so it helps to be excited about the same things that your potential employers are. Having the talent to be a good game audio person is only half the battle. Good luck!