There are many different ways to find a job in game audio. Some of us start the usual path with internship, some of us start co-developing an indie game with friends in a garage, and some of us get somehow very lucky and get an offer right after school. While most may enter the industry in this fashion, this was not the case for me.
Being a fresh graduate from sound engineering school with no experience in gaming, I had to go abroad, teach myself about game audio, start my own audio outsourcing company to now finally working in a game company.
The purpose of this article is to share my own experiences on this unique journey and to let aspiring audio professionals know that even if you don’t have the experience and knowledge in gaming at first, as long as you’re willing to learn and work hard, you can certainly find yourself a place in this industry.
It was in back in 2010 that I realised I wanted to work in the game industry. I was living in Paris working as Music Producer, and at the time, there was only about a handful of game companies that were big enough to hire audio folks and in most cases looking for seniors. Having zero experience in gaming, I was out of luck. It was at this point that I made the choice to go abroad and try my luck elsewhere. After doing some research (and several trips to China) I decided to move to Shanghai, which seemed to be an up and coming place for gaming as well as a place in need of audio professionals.
For the first couple of years in Shanghai, I took the reign of a postproduction sound studio. I did a bit of everything back then, worked as boom operator, sound designer, music supervisor, ADR engineer, etc. I also got to work on the audio assets of two Chinese games, and while it was a step in the right direction, this was still far from where I wanted to be.
As I was looking and applying for game-related jobs, I would frequently encounter people who would tell me that doing sound for games is not the same as linear production. Though this may be true to a certain extent, I disagreed and started to learn as much as I could about game audio. I read all kinds of articles, books, watched video tutorials but one that really stood out the most in retrospect is “The Complete Guide to Game Audio” by Aaron Marks. Aside from teaching you how to create audio for games, this book really helps you grasp how to build up your work experience as well as branding your own name and work.
After some time teaching myself about game audio through books and other resources - and a 2 years experience managing a sound department - it suddenly dawned on me that I could start my own audio business dedicated exclusively to game audio. I started with the name: “Game Audio Lab,” to make it clear to people that we would be creating audio exclusively for games. I was finally able, one way or another, to get a foot into the game industry!
At first it was creating audio for China-based mobile and MMO games. As my experience and portfolio grew, so did my company. The amount of work coming in increased and I was able to hire other employees and move the company into a proper studio, eventually reaching a point of 4 full-time employees and working on a regular basis with a pool of local and international freelancers.
After working 6-7 days a week for about 3 years and countless hours doing audio production, audio implementation, marketing, accounting, business development, staff management, project management, etc. the hard work finally started to bear fruit and I was able to work on famous IPs (Final Fantasy XIV, Call of Duty Online, Transformers, etc.).
In those three years I worked on more than 20 shipped games - one of the great things about outsourcing is if you’re good & willing to work hard, you can really expand your portfolio in a relatively short amount of time - covering many fields of game audio, such as assets production, implementation, voice production, mixing, audio localization, as well as audio PM and production.
It was due to the experience I gained in these years on various aspects of game audio that I was able to eventually start a separate service from my audio lab that provided on-site consulting for some of the bigger international game companies having studios located in Shanghai.
After half year consulting with one of these companies and shipping successfully one title with them, they gave me the opportunity I was looking for when I explained to them why I originally started my game audio outsourcing business.
It’s been a long journey and after taking the long way around, I eventually landed the dream job that I’ve been fighting for, surrounded by great people that have the same passions as me.
Don’t worry about the naysayers and always keep in mind that there is more than one way of getting the job you really want!