How can I start my career in video game audio?

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In this episode of Game Industry Career Guide Podcast, I answer a question from Ramo, who asks, “I am currently an airman in the navy, but when I get out I would like to fulfill my dream of becoming a sound producer for a video game company. I would like to know what schools could I attend, and what people I should I connect with?”

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • Various educational options for audio engineering and production
  • Why career networking is critical to your future audio career
  • The best way to grow your career network rapidly, so it will be there when you need it

If you have a question you'd like to get answered on the podcast, leave a comment below or ask me anything here.

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Hello and welcome to the Game Industry Career Guide podcast, this is episode number 27. I’m Jason W. Bay from GameIndustryCareerGuide.com, and this is the podcast where I answer your questions about getting a job and growing your career making video games.

This week’s question is from Ramo. He writes and asked this, “I’m currently a man in the Navy, but when I get out I would like to fulfill my dream of becoming a sound producer for a video game company. I would like to know what schools can I attend, and what people should I connect with?” All right. Ramo wants to work in game audio, and he’s not only thinking about what kind of education he should get, he’s also thinking about who he needs to know to help him get a job.

I love that because most people just starting their careers don’t put nearly enough emphasis on career networking. In fact, I’m pretty sure that most people just starting out don’t have any idea how mission critical it is to know the right people at the right companies. So I love it that Ramo is asking this question. Will talk more about career networking in just a minute, but let’s start by discussing education options for aspiring sound designers.

Now, audio engineering is a very technical field. There’s a variety of hardware, software, and different techniques that you’ll need to learn. So taking some courses or even getting a degree is a good way to get that training.

For example, a Full Sail University in Florida offers two different bachelor’s degrees that might be interesting for you. One of them is in recording arts, and the other is in audio production. Full Sail also has video game specific courses at the school, so it might be easy to collaborate with students from other departments who are making games and need game audio. So you may not be learning game audio specifically, but you’ll be learning audio and you’ll be able to work with people that are making games. So you can get a sense of how all of those those pieces tie together.

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But you can also learn the skills you need at any number of other trade schools or audio specific schools around the country. It’s not as important which specific school you attend. When it comes to audio, the most important thing is that you end up with a solid audio foundation, and you do a number of small projects that will look great or, I guess, sound great on your portfolio.

Attending an audio school will also help to kick start your career networking which I’ve already mentioned is a key factor in landing a good job after you’re done with your schooling, because as the people in your classes graduate and then start getting jobs all over the country or even the world, they’ll become your eyes and ears inside of those companies. And they can help you spot job openings and even help you get interviews whenever the opportunities arise. So let’s talk some more about career networking.

Networking is important for several reasons. It helps you find out about job openings before they’re posted. It increases the chances of getting a job when people inside the company already know you and trust you, so it helps you get hired. And it provides a way for you to get career advice and direction from other people, especially people that are more senior than you, and have more knowledge and experience than you. You can learn from them and that helps a lot. You can sort of think of your professional network as a big group of mentors and collaborators so you can sort of help each other out as you move through your careers together. So it’s well worth any time and effort that you can to build that network so that it’s there when you need it.

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Besides going to school, there is one other way to start building your network that can be incredibly effective and that is to attend conferences. There are local and national conferences of audio people that happen, and if you can go to those it’s good for a lot of reasons.

One of the top conferences here in the U.S. is called GameSoundCon. It’s put on each year by Brian Schmidt who’s a veteran in the video game audio industry. That particular conference is a great way to learn new skills and keep up with the state of the art in game music and audio. But you’ll also meet new people and make tons of new friends that can become part of your professional network. So that’s what conferences are good for. I’ll put a link to GameSoundCon’s website in the show notes so that you can find it easily.

I have a couple of super informative Q&A interviews with game audio professionals on my website. You can find those at GameIndustryCareerGuide.com/careers and then scroll down the page until you see the audio careers section.

Thanks to Ramo for this question, and thank you for spending time with me today to talk about your education and your career in game audio. If you have your own question you’d like me to answer on this podcast, just stop by the website and leave a comment. I will answer it on a future episode.

For more information and inspiration on getting a job and growing your career making video games, just visit me at GameIndustryCareerGuide.com. I’m Jason W. Bay and I will see you again next week right here on the Game Industry Career Guide podcast.

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4 comments on “How can I start my career in video game audio?
  1. Sandeep Vanamali says:

    Hi My name is Sandeep Vanamali

    I have done my graduation in Commerce and i have experience in Pharma sales and i want to move myself in Gaming Industry and set my carrer in Game Industry.

    what course i have to learn and how can i get job in Game Industry and whom to approach.

    Please give me your valuable suggestions.

    Thanks
    Sandeep Vanamali

  2. Marshea Hensley says:

    Hi, I am a student in Medical Lab Technology, however I’m also a musician/guitarist_& songwriter. My 2 loves have always been music & video games. Here’s my question, I’m limited as far as budget, is it possible to learn & educate myself in the field of audio design/sound engineer for games without college or formal education? There’s so much information available online & software courses to learn programming, middleware, & networking in this field. If I wanted to go that route in establishing a career in game music what the best course & methods you would you recommend? I’ve read from industry veterens its best to know how to develop indie games as well in order to compose for it to help build a portfolio. And the better the experience & more professional the portfolio is what employers look at more than a college degree. I intend to learn middleware, game designing, & engines etc. on my own thru drvelopment software, books, & online resources but also take computer & programming etc courses in my spare time in order to further my knowledge of the process & the industry. Could you give me & others who college may not be possible advice on how, where you would start for beginners in this endeavor but who also have the desire, passion, & musical knowledge to bring our passion for gaming apart of our career? I appreciate your time & attention in this & thank you in advance for any & all advice you can provide. Thank you very much & thank you for what knowledge & information you already provide for anyone wanting to succeed in the interactive & gaming industry. I hope to hear from you soon!

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Hi Marshea, there are a few different skills sets in game audio. One is the “basics” of songwriting/composition and sound effects. You can learn those from numerous books and online classes, and by practicing as much as possible on your own. The other parts relate to applying those skills to video games specifically, and lastly the skill of “hooking up” your sounds into the game engine using a scripting language or other tools. The basic skill set is the bread-and-butter of your career, so spend the most time on that. You can learn any individual game engine (like Unity 3D or Unreal Engine or whatever) as needed.

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