It’s always a pleasure to announce a new guest on Designing Sound. During this month, Rodney Gates will be sharing with us a lot of his experiences in the world of sound design and audio direction for video games.
“I became interested in sound and music at a young age, making cassette tapes on my Yorx stereo with a crude electret-condenser microphone with old needle-drop sound effects on LP added in, telling crazy stories in this fashion, at the age of 13 in the sizzling-hot summers of Phoenix, AZ.
The teen years naturally led to an interest in the electric guitar, and after getting my first one at 15, I proceeded to learn every single Metallica song I could, with my brother on drums. I never went the band route though, like my brother did, but instead saved my money working in food service and wholesale printing to get a Tascam Portastudio 4-track cassette-based recorder. I remember vividly the moment I soloed a guitar part over a previously-recorded rhythm track and played it back. It was then I was hugely bitten by the recording bug.
This led to a class at Phoenix College, which opened me up a little to audio engineering. I ended up buying a lot of equipment I didn’t thoroughly understand, which included a Yamaha ProMix 01 digital mixer, an original Alesis ADAT, and a Tascam DAT recorder, plus a couple of mics. I remember buying Cakewalk 3 on a single floppy disk for $300 to use with my Alesis QuadraSynth and a Compaq PC running Windows 3.1 back in 1995, sequencing all kinds of crazy tunes, while recording guitars, bass and drum machines all by my lonesome.
Then I decided to finally jump into something that would hopefully prepare me to be a little more professional – the Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences in Tempe, AZ. What a great school. I sponged up the information they taught me there and couldn’t wait to intern someplace. I had really gained an interest in post production and Foley artistry, and I remember I wished I could have interned at Skywalker Sound when it was over. However, with limited placement there and the fact I didn’t know anyone up in the San Francisco area to stay with, I opted for New York instead. I briefly interned at the Soundtrack Group in Manhattan, whose focus was music production, working the graveyard shift of 12-8AM. The highlight, if you want to call it that, was making hot chocolate for Busta Rhymes and his posse.
Let’s just say that it wasn’t my cup of tea. I could see myself spending years there, paying my dues, only to finally get the chance to assist on some sessions, and maybe one day become a house engineer. I didn’t think that was the path for me.
I moved back to AZ a little disillusioned and went back to work in printing, for several years actually. Phoenix was mostly a dead town for recording skills. It wasn’t until becoming so impressed with 2002’s Medal of Honor: Allied Assault on PC that I fully realized there must be people with careers in game audio – this seemed like the niche for me.
After spending a year creating a demo and mailing it out, I finally began my career as an Associate Audio Designer at Sammy Studios in Carlsbad, CA in early 2004, working on a fun vampire-western FPS, Darkwatch.
Sammy turned into High Moon Studios in early 2005 and eventually was purchased by Vivendi-Universal at the end of the year, as I began working on the title, Robert Ludlum’s The Bourne Conspiracy, as Sound Designer. Part-way through the title’s development, I was promoted to Senior Sound Designer, and once the title was wrapped, Lead (the dev cycle ran a little long).
When the Vivendi – Activision merger completed, High Moon fell under the new Activision | Blizzard parent and began developing Transformers: War For Cybertron. Unfortunately, the merger had stopped HMS’ development of two other projects, one of which I was the Lead of, so I began to feel redundant.
An opportunity arose at Sony Online Entertainment, and I started there in November of 2009 as a Senior Sound Designer, and shortly thereafter I became and currently serve as their Audio Director.”
- Free Realms (SOE – PS3, 2011)
- EverQuest II – Destiny Of Velious expansion (SOE – PC, 2011)
- Magic: The Gathering – Tactics (SOE – PC, 2011)
- DC Universe Online (SOE – PC / PS3, 2011)
- James Patterson’s Catch A Killer (SOE – Facebook, 2010)
- EverQuest – House Of Thule expansion (SOE – PC, 2010)
- Clone Wars Adventures (SOE / Lucasarts – PC / Mac, 2010)
- EverQuest II – Sentinel’s Fate expansion (SOE – PC, 2010)
- Transformers: War For Cybertron (Activision – Xbox 360 / PS3 / PC, 2010 – uncredited)
- Robert Ludlum’s The Bourne Conspiracy (Vivendi-Universal – Xbox 360 / PS3, 2008)
- Darkwatch (Capcom – Xbox / PS2, 2005)
Mike Niederquell says
I love you, Rodney.
Rodney Gates says
Ha ha – figures you’d say that.
Can’t wait to learn from Rodney
Watched you grow for the last couple decades. So proud! Go Rod Go!
linda signer says
Rodney, your wife bragged about you but I had no idea. Congratulations on all your accomplishments and your talent!!
Rodney Gates says
Ha ha, thanks guys.