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Blog: The big list 2021 – Resources for game music composers


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Photo of game music composer WInifred Phillips, pictured in her music production studio at Generations Productions LLC. This photo was taken while Phillips was delivering her presentation for GDC 2src2src.

By Winifred Phillips  |  Contact  |  Follow

Glad you’re here!  I’m videogame composer Winifred Phillips, and every year I compile a “big list” of the top online resources available for game audio folks.  It’s an evolving list that expands each year as more awesome professional tools and great networking opportunities become available.  However, before we begin, it’s important to acknowledge what the Covid-19 pandemic has done to our industry this year.  While the games themselves are as popular as ever, those of us making assets for these games are working under extraordinary circumstances.  It’s harder than ever to meet face-to-face, and our community can feel a bit fractured and distant.  With that in mind, let’s kick off this list with a look at how we’re connecting with each other in the time of the coronavirus, exploring how conferences and events have adapted to our socially-distant world this year.  In doing so, I’ll be sharing some videos from conferences that took place entirely online, including the full-length video of the talk I gave in 2020 at the Game Developer Conference (pictured above).  After that, we’ll once again explore the best available resources in the form of online community groups, software applications, and academic institutions with wellsprings of expert knowledge to share.

So if everybody’s ready, then let’s get started!

Conferences

The official logo of the Game Developers Conference, as included in the article written by video game composer Winifred Phillips.The Game Developers Conference is a mammoth yearly event held at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, where the game development community gathers to attend educational presentations and check out new tech on the conference’s exhibit floor.  Due to the pandemic, the Game Developers Conference plans on holding another entirely virtual event this year during the week of July 19-23, 2021.  While we’re waiting for the full-fledged GDC event this summer, the GDC organizers have pulled together a free virtual conference kicking off this week!  GDC Showcase 2021 includes 49 sessions across all game development disciplines.  I’m pleased that I’ll be participating in both the GDC Showcase this week, and in the full GDC Conference in July.  My presentation this week is entitled, “Homefront to God of War: Using Music to Build Suspense.”  I’ll be answering questions during and after the presentation, so I hope you’ll register to join me on March 18th (3:15pm PST).  In the meantime, I’d like to share a video of my presentation from last year’s entirely virtual GDC event.  During this event, I was pleased to discuss the importance of memorable musical themes in game music composition, using examples from my work on such projects as Assassin’s Creed Liberation and the LittleBigPlanet franchise. Selected talks from this online event are now available via the GDC YouTube channel.  Here’s a video of the online presentation I gave during virtual GDC 2020:


The Audio Developers Conference logo image. This image was used to illustrate an article discussing conferences for game audio practitioners. The article was written by Winifred Phillips (composer of game music).The Audio Developers Conference is an annual event that focuses on some of the most complex issues involved in audio development, including some highly technical sessions that delve into issues specific to game audio folks.  The most recent Audio Developers Conference took place from 17 – 19 November 2020 as a virtual event on the Remo networking app.  All of the conference sessions are now available for free viewing on the conference YouTube playlist.  Here’s a presentation on game music from a programmer’s perspective, given by Guy Somberg of Echtra Games:


The logo of the Audio Engineering Society, as included in the article written by Winifred Phillips (award-winning composer of video game music).The Audio Engineering Society International Conference on Audio for Virtual and Augmented Reality took place from August 17 – 19, 2020.  This conference gathers researchers, engineers, and developers to exchange ideas on the subject of audio creation and implementation in virtual and augmented/mixed reality.  The entire conference is now freely available for viewing on YouTube, including the panel on audio development of the Valve Index and the VR game Half-Life: Alyx, given by members of the VALVE Audio Team.

The Audio Engineering Society organizes a robust convention calendar for the benefit of audio engineers around the world.  Events include both topic-specific conferences, and larger-scale main conventions taking place twice a year in cities that alternate between the USA and major cities in Europe. Both conventions in 2020 were virtual live-streamed events that included exclusive virtual walking tours of world-renowned recording studios.   Recordings of AES 2020 presentations were made available to registrants for a limited time.  The Audio Engineering Society’s Spring 2021 convention will take place entirely online from May 25 – 28, 2021.  Here’s a video showing the virtual walking tour of Metropolis Studios from the AES Fall 2020 convention.


The AudioMostly logo, illustrating a discussion of offerings from the AudioMostly conference in 2src2src. This article was written by award-winning game composer Winifred Phillips.The Audio Mostly Conference on Interaction with Sound is an interdisciplinary conference bringing professionals and academics together to discuss the intersection between sound/music and the design of products, games, software, virtual environments and more.  The latest Audio Mostly Conference took place from September 14 – 17, 2020 as a fully virtual event.  A broad selection of presentation videos are available for free online.  The next Audio Mostly Conference will take place online from September 1 – 3, 2021.  Here is a scholarly presentation that explores nonlinear, interactive composition techniques from a more scientific point of view, as presented by Adrian Hazzard, Chris Greenhalgh and Maria Kallionpää:


The Develop: Brighton logo image, as included in a discussion of game development conferences in an article by Winifred Phillips (composer of music for video games).The Develop Conference in Brighton is Europe’s leading game development conference, bringing industry professionals together for three days of learning and networking.  The latest Develop: Brighton conference took place as an online event from November 2-4 2020.  Videos of sessions are available for free viewing via the conference YouTube playlist.  As of this writing, Develop: Brighton intends to hold a traditionally physical conference event from October 26 – 28, 2021.  Here’s a Develop: Brighton 2020 presentation given by Bogdan Vera of Media Molecule on audio creation using the tools of the Dreams video game:


Game music composer Winifred Phillips includes this logo image in a discussion of game audio-focused conferences in 2src2src. GameSoundCon is a two-day conference focused exclusively on game audio topics, and held every year at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles.  This year, GameSoundCon held its conference virtually from Oct 5-7 2020. Videos of conference sessions are now available for a $25 fee, and will remain available online until “at least April 3, 2021.”

The Ludomusicology logo image, as included in the article written by video game composer Winifred Phillips.The Ludo2021 Conference on Video Game Music and Sound will take place entirely online from April 23 – 25th, 2021, and will be free for both presenters and attendees.  The theme of this conference will be, “Where in the world is video game music?  Geographies, Cultures, and Regions of Game Music.” The conference that was scheduled to take place at the University of Malta in April 2020 was postponed indefinitely.

This is the Music and the Moving Image logo, used to illustrate a discussion of the associated conference. The article was written by Winifred Phillips, composer of game music.The Music and the Moving Image Conference takes place at NYU Steinhardt, and focuses on the relationship between all visual projects (film, TV, games, etc) and music/sound content.  Their conference was originally scheduled to take place in May 2020, but has been rescheduled as a virtual event set to take place via Zoom from May 27 – May 30, 2021.  The keynote address will be given by famous film composer Howard Shore (Lord of the Rings).

The graphical logo of the North American Conference on Video Game Music, as included in the article by composer of video game music Winifred Phillips.The North American Conference on Video Game Music is a scholarly event taking place each year at a different sponsoring university, and focusing on the study of the role music and sound plays in video game design and appreciation.  The most recent conference took place entirely online from June 13th – 14th 2020.  Videos of conference sessions were not preserved after the event.  This year’s event is scheduled as an entirely virtual conference to take place from June 12 – 13, 2021.


Beyond the offerings presented each year in conferences, there are other mind-expanding resources available from academic organizations such as these:

Academia

Communities / Discussion Forums

An image illustrating the concept of professional networking, included in the article by award-winning game composer Winifred Phillips.Online communities have become more important than ever this year, as other means of connecting with each other grow increasingly difficult in our socially-distanced world.  Below I’ve provided a list of online community groups from around the world, organized alphabetically and grouped by continent.

There’s also a handy Google Map) that provides similar data, for those who prefer a more graphical approach.

After the location-focused community groups, I’ve included some more generalized game audio bulletin boards and online communities.

Game Audio Groups – Americas

An image depicting the American continent, used in a discussion of online communities. This article was written by Winifred Phillips (composer of music for video games).

Austin Game Audio Facebook

Boston Game Audio Facebook

Boston Game Audio Twitter

Brazil Game Audio Facebook

Chile Game Audio Facebook

Colombia Medellin Game Audio Facebook

Colombia Bogota Game Audio Facebook

Colorado Game Audio Meetup

Los Angeles Game Audio Newsletter

Los Angeles Game Audio Facebook

Los Angeles Game Audio Twitter

Midwest Game Audio Facebook

Minneapolis / Twin Cities Game Audio Facebook

Montreal Game Audio Blogspot

Montreal Game Audio Facebook

New York Game Audio Facebook

Orange County California Game Audio Twitter

Quebec Game Audio Facebook

San Diego Game Audio

Seattle Game Audio Google Group

Toronto Game Audio Twitter

Utah Game Audio Facebook

Utah Game Audio Twitter

Vancouver Sound Designers Meetup

Vancouver Sound Designers Facebook

Game Audio Groups – Asia

A graphical depiction of the continent of Asia, used as illustration in a discussion of online discussion groups. Game music composer Winifred Phillips wrote this article.

Japan Game Audio Facebook

Singapore Game Audio Facebook

South Korea Game Audio Facebook

Taiwan Game Audio Twitter

Taiwan Game Audio Facebook

Turkey Game Audio Meetup

Game Audio Groups – Europe

Video game composer Winifred Phillips used this image to illustrate a list of European community groups.

Brighton UK Game Audio Facebook

Bristol UK Game Audio Facebook

France Game Audio Twitter

France Game Audio Facebook

Guildford UK Game Audio Facebook

Hamburg Germany Game Audio Facebook

Irish Game Audio Facebook

Italy Game Audio Facebook

Midlands UK Game Audio Twitter

Munich Germany Game Audio Meetup

Netherlands Game Audio Facebook

Verona Italy Game Audio Facebook

Warsaw Poland Game Audio Twitter

South Africa Game Audio Facebook

Australia/New Zealand Game Audio Facebook


General Game Audio Communities and Forums

An iconic depiction of communication, used in an article written by Winifred Phillips (composer of game music).

Audiokinetic Wwise Community Q&A

The Composer’s Forum – Film/TV & Game Composing

Facebook Group: FMOD Community

Facebook Group: Video Game – Composers & Sound Designers

Firelight FMOD Studio Community Q&A

GameDev.net Music and Sound

GearSlutz Music for Games Forum

IndieDB.com – Sound Design & Composition

LinkedIn: Game Audio Group

LinkedIn: Game Audio Network Guild Group

Reddit: Game Audio Subreddit

TIGForums – Audio

Twitter: The GameAudio Hashtag

Twitter: The GameComposer Hashtag

VGMDB Game Music Forum

Young Composers: Incidental Music & Soundtracks

Software Tools

A colorful representation of the concept of Software, from the article by composer of video game music Winifred Phillips.

This list expands slowly each year, as more tools are introduced for game audio creators.  As before, I’ve included the time-tested middleware applications, along with tools for spatial audio design and a collection of the most popular Digital Audio Workstations.

Conclusion

So there we have it – the big list for 2021!  I hope you’ll find something useful in this article. Thanks for reading!


Popular game music composer Winifred Phillips works in her music production studio.Winifred Phillips is a BAFTA-nominated video game composer whose latest project is the hit PlayStation 5 launch title Sackboy: A Big Adventure (soundtrack album now available).  Popular music from Phillips’ award-winning Assassin’s Creed Liberation score is featured in the performance repertoire of the Assassin’s Creed Symphony World Tour, which made its Paris debut in 2019 with an 80-piece orchestra and choir. As an accomplished video game composer, Phillips is best known for composing music for games in five of the most famous and popular franchises in gaming: Assassin’s Creed, God of War, Total War, The Sims, and Sackboy / LittleBigPlanet.  She is the author of the award-winning bestseller A COMPOSER’S GUIDE TO GAME MUSIC, published by the MIT Press. As one of the foremost authorities on music for interactive entertainment, Winifred Phillips has given lectures at the Library of Congress in Washington DC, the Society of Composers and Lyricists, the Game Developers Conference, the Audio Engineering Society, and many more. Phillips’ enthusiastic fans showered her with questions during a Reddit Ask-Me-Anything session that went viral, hit the Reddit front page, received 14.9 thousand upvotes, and became one of the most popular gaming AMAs ever hosted on Reddit. Follow her on Twitter @winphillips.    

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