Fun & games – a very brief peek into the world of the game industry and game audio

I’ll write this blog post in English because of the international nature of the industry. Lately I’ve been exploring and familiarizing myself with the Finnish game industry and oh boy what a cool ride it has been. I’ve had the opportunity to visit most of the classic ”go-to events” and a super special one.

For anyone wanting to get into the industry there are two events that you shouldn’t miss out on. The first one is the IGDA gatherings organized by the International Game Developers Association. These gatherings are held all around Finland (and the world) but the one for me is naturally the Helsinki installment. At IGDA’s one has a great opportunity to meet new people working in the industry. A lot of them are long-established pros while there are also students like myself that are just about to get into the industry. For a Finnish event the gatherings are in that way special that you can introduce yourself and go talk to almost anyone at the event, people seem to be as friendly as they are talented.

Some other amazing events are the so called ”Game jams” which can be organized locally by different companies or as worldwide events, like the one organized by Global Game Jam®. Game jams are events where a team of people create a game in a short time (24-72 hours) in order to try out game ideas or just for the fun of it all.

The process consists of all the necessary work phases that a game production requires and functions as a great simulation of how an actual game development team brings it all together.

All in all I’ve attended two game jams where I’ve naturally worked as the composer. The first game is a Super Mario inspired 2D platformer called ’Dingle’s Dangle’ and the other one was organized by Unicorn Pirates Studio to raise money for rescue dogs. In this game jam (actually a dog jam) we created a dog-themed game called ’Volleydogs’ in which two dogs throw a bone to each other like they’d be playing volleyball. I had my aspiring office dog, Mango with me during the jams and he turned out to be quite helpful. He ”worked” as a ”quality assurance technician” on the Volleydogs soundtrack (hah, the soundtrack utilizes dog sounds which Mango found rather interesting…).

As a composer these jams have been very educative and fun, I’ve tackled different artistic challenges while learning about one’s that I didn’t even know existed before. I still have tons to learn about adaptive music and software like Unity and Wwise but I feel that it’s all coming together eventually. As it seems to be relevant in almost any field, a quote from Einstein might be quite fitting here as well: ”The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don’t know”.

And that super special event I mentioned earlier: it’s called Game Audio Awards which is an annual gala event held in Oulu, the home of game companies like Fingersoft and Kaamos Games. If you’re interested in the latest and greatest achievements in game audio this is the place for you. The event itself is quite new and still growing but this year’s installment was impressive to say the least and totally worth the effort of traveling the whole day. During my trip I met a lot of very cool people and one of them is Filippo Vicarelli, who has composed music for Fingersoft’s popular games ”Hill Climb Racing” and ”Hill Climb Racing 2”.

To sum up making games and music for them is a lot of fun and as I love working with other people the fact that games are made in teams is very appealing to me. The process of making games is always a learning experience but you’re totally allowed to have fun on the way and because of this I hope I get to work on as many games as possible in the future!

Drop me a message on Facebook if you have some comments or more tips about the industry or game audio in general. I’m always eager to learn more and share ideas with other people.

 

Rolf Gustavson

Helsinki-based composer Rolf Gustavson (right in the picture) is the treasurer of Korvat auki with a passion for game and fantasy music.