Vid game composers going for high scores


The video game is the new radio. Or is it the new CD? Or the new score soundtrack? Maybe it’s all of the above.

Like radio, video games now serve as a way for artists to be discovered, and many acts are breaking thanks to song placements. Sales of games by far outshine CDs -- “Halo 3,” for example, made $170 million in sales its first day on the market. And as far as scoring goes, some of the most innovative orchestral music is being produced for video games. Many such scores are now even being performed live by full orchestras to eager fans.

Composing for games has come a long way since Pong.

Inon Zur, who’s done a slew of music for television and trailers, says he has “much more creative freedom” writing for video games -- mainly because of all the options, different endings and various levels of games. It’s never the same thing twice, and the music plays a large role in the emotional journey of winning or losing, he says. Zur, whose current projects include “Crysis” and “EverQuest II: Rise of Kunark,” has been scoring games for more than 10 years. He says that thanks to the advancements in memory capacity, full orchestral scores can be included.

Garry Schyman, whose current scores are featured in “BioShock” and “Destroy All Humans! 3,” concurs. “Its really exciting to work on games,” he says. “Especially when you are part of the entire process.” On some projects, Schyman has spent up to seven months working on the music and has had a hand in the creative development of the game.

Gaming has become a strong outlet for composers and opened up new revenue streams. And yes, they get to play a lot of games.

Zur and Schyman will be speaking on a gaming panel during the Billboard/Hollywood Reporter Film and TV Music Conference, which will be held No. 1-2 in Los Angeles. Also on hand to discuss the secrets of video game music will be Russell Brower, composer and director of audio/video at Blizzard Entertainment; Jonathan McHugh of SongStew Entertainment; and Marty O’Donnell, audio director and music composer at Bungie Studios, who has worked on the “Halo” series.