Guest contribution by Natalia Perez
Let me begin with a brief preface about myself. I am a woman studying film music and game audio at Berklee College of Music. I came to GDC for the first time this year wide-eyed and eager to learn. Coming from an institution that is 70% male, I know all too well the gender disparity that exists in everything I love and do. Though I have been fortunate enough to not let this affect me in a negative way, it is still a problem I am very passionate about addressing, hence why I decided to review this particular panel. I will be going over the topics that were presented, the answers the panel provided, and what I learned myself. Please note that any answer not directly quoted is to be taken as a mutual consensus by the panel.
The goal of the Women In Game Audio panel was to address the difficulties women face as they try to cultivate their careers, the pros and cons of versatility versus finding your own distinct voice, and how both men and women can help support more diversity in the industry.
Speakers included Laura Karpman (Lead Composer, Laura Karpman Music), Penka Kouneva (Lead Composer, Kouneva Studios), Paul Lipson (Senior Audio Director, Microsoft Studios), Corina Bello (Sound Designer, High Moon Studios), Benedicte Ouimet (Music Supervisor, Ubisoft Montreal), and Belinda van Sickle (President, Women in Games International). As you can see, we have quite the line up here. So what did our speakers have to say?
At the time of writing, recent graduate and field recordist Chris Trevino has a Kickstarter campaign called “The Japan Sound Effect Collection” which he plans to be a collection of ambiences, train passes, and walla. Chris was kind enough to answer a few questions about his current campaign.
Designing Sound: Tell us a little bit about your own background in sound and field recording.
Chris Trevino: I was enraptured at a young age by the games that were coming out of Japan in the 90s. The music of Nobuo Uematsu (Final Fantasy Series) and Yasunori Mitsuda (Chrono Trigger/Cross) gave me both the game and Japan bugs. These games inspired me to take up the tenor saxophone and then later choir when I was younger and made me want to be a game composer.
I first started my undergraduate as an anthropology major, because of my love of cultures, but quickly discovered that I loved the ideas but was not passionate about the work. At the end of my first year, still dreaming of game music, I took summer music composition classes and my first sound design class. Needless to say, I got hooked.
Since then, I’ve sound designed a handful of theater productions and have done a lot of field recording on my own. In the summers of 2012/13, I trained with Ric Viers at The Detroit Chop Shop. While there, I helped record and edit four commercial sound effects libraries for BlastwaveFX. I started the Japan collection in Fall of 2013 while I was studying Japanese at a language center in Japan.
DS: What made you choose Japan as a subject for field recording?
CT: Choosing Japan as a subject for field recording was a natural choice given how much Japanese games influenced me when I was younger. When I was accepted into the language center in Japan, I knew that I needed to do as much recordings there as I could.
Guest Contribution By Chanel Summers
As a woman who has built her own career on a platform of game audio, game design and game production, I am passionate about programs that teach and empower women to follow a similar path. As there are such few women in the field of video game audio, fewer are even aware of the opportunities. I have been on a mission to try and change that – trying to introduce this field as a career option to young women and show that women can lead in this field and be highly successful — and perhaps even change the complexion of the video game industry. The reason this is so important is that for an industry or a creative medium to achieve its full potential, it must draw strength from diversity — a diversity of backgrounds, cultures, perspectives, and experiences. Each person approaching opportunity from a different starting point keeps things fresh, vibrant, exciting and new.
That is why I found myself, two years ago, at Forest Ridge School of the Sacred Heart, an all-girl’s school in Bellevue, Washington, proposing a summer workshop called, “Artistic Expression in Game Audio Design”. The workshop would give young women an artistic and technical foundation in audio for interactive media and expose them to the career possibilities in video game audio. It would be based on the class that I created and teach at USC’s Interactive Media & Games Division in the School of Cinematic Arts (“Audio Expression”), taking a semester-long course and turning it into an intensive one month long workshop for Forest Ridge. Because we chose not to “adapt” the material for a younger audience, these girls would get the same material I teach to undergrads, grads, and PhD students. In fact, it would be even more intensive, as they would have class every day for four hours each day rather than once a week. By choosing not to “dumb down” the curriculum for students just because they are younger or new to the field, we showed that we respected the young women, which they in turn responded to with vigor.
Sweet Justice is a “full service game audio production company based in the South of England. Founded by industry veterans Chris Sweetman and Samuel Justice. With a combined experience of over 3 decades of frontline experience in the games industry, we have worked on a large number of AAA and independent titles. We have won multiple awards for our work within game audio.”
I was fortunate enough to convince Chris Sweetman and Sam Justice to do an interview where we chat about productivity, education, staying fresh, and even telling a story with sound.