Monday, July 15, 2013

Surveying Literature: IASIG Game Audio Curriculum Guideline

Yesterday I read through the IASIG Game Audio Curriculum Guideline.  The main thing I thought as I read it was: how cool that this exists and that I created a class not too far outside the guidelines of this syllabus!  I think my class is a blend of mostly the Video Game/Game Audio History class with a little of the third year Game Music Analysis Class.  I'm thrilled to see that both of the documents suggest having guest speakers as a part of the class, since I'm working right now on a grant application as an honorium for guest speakers in the class.  I'm definitely going to apply for some grant funding to join IASIG in the next year and learn more about what they've got available and discussions there are like, etc...  But this document is available online with no special membership needed.

The highlights of the document for me were several, which may just sound like a summary of it, but I'm very glad that I read it.  First, I loved the list of positions working in game audio.  There are nine listed under sound design, eight under the category of musician, ten under voice/dialog/localization, five under audio management, three under programming, and one under QA-- essentially a way into the field.  If that's the way to get a foot in the door, I'd be interested in such work.  Maybe a way to dip my toes into the water and see if I like the temperature!

Also very cool to see the table listing skills needed for the various positions listed above (music, sound, voice/dialog, and management).  I wonder how these skills change depending on the size of the project.  For instance, the table makes it appear that implementation skills aren't very important for a music position-- and maybe not in a huge project, but in a smaller project, the composer might create sounds and implement them into the game as well.  As Aaron Marks would remind, the more you can do yourself, the more money you can make and the more control you have to make sure things are done the way you want!

I'm also struck by the fact that there are so few game specific books listed as recommended texts in the syllabi.  Creating sound effects sounds very similar between film and video and games.  However, there's no reason not to create texts that about sound effects specifically for games.  While the creation process is probably very similar, the implementation and end result is no doubt different.  Undoubtedly the same is true for recording techniques, etc.  One thing I really hope will come out in the next few years is a text by a good game composer about the music creation process-- explaining planning for interactivity-- both musically, practically, and technically.  We need more game specific texts, and not just generally, but with game audio as well.  In any case, the recommended texts that are game audio specific are:

Karen Collins: Game Sound.
Alexander Brandon: Audio for Games.
Rob Bridget: Post-production sound: a new production model for interactive media
Rob Bridget: The Future of Game Audio-- Is Interactive Mixing the Key?
Aaron Marks: The Complete Guide to Game Audio.
Wwise manual: audiokinetic.com

The Bridget writings are now on my reading list, and I'm pleased that I've already read the Collins, Brandon, and Marks.  I spent quite a bit of time playing around on the Wwise website and also added several of their manuals to my reading lists, their Fundamentals Manual and Integrating Audio Guide.  Nice to know that academics have access to Wwise for free!

One of the most common threads I'm really struck by in all this game audio reading is that there's a huge push in every document of the need for (what is here called) "soft skills."  Interpersonal skills, the ability to get along well, work on a team, meet deadlines, be kind to people.  Classical music definitely has a bit of diva-ism about it, but these skills are-- in reality-- needed and possessed by most folks who are successful and working in the field.  But the prevalence with which game audio discusses these features as being important keeps me wondering what working in the field is like?  As a person with a degree in collaborative piano, the idea of not being a team player is crazy, but I'm beginning to wonder if that's a common attitude.