Composers hit the right note with video games

ST. LOUIS COUNTY - Thanks to the popularity of smart phones and tablets, the world wide video game industry reached $93 billion last year.

The games have gotten more complex, and so have the music soundtracks. Experts say the best game music interacts with the rest of the video game.

The St. Louis video game community, and local music composers, are trying to hit the right note and move way beyond the bleeps and bloops of old-school games.

At Graphite Lab in Westport Plaza, it's game on. A team of video game designers are working on the visuals of a game called Hive Jump, what they hope will be the next big thing.

"A group of space Marines that descend on an alien planet to exterminate this alien infestation," said Matt Raithel.

There's no music sound track yet, but there will be and a lot of time and effort will go into it.

"The perfect score, the perfect soundtrack is one that accentuates the visuals and the gameplay of the game. One that really helps draw you in," said Raithel.

A few miles away in midtown, music composer Jim Calahan reminisces about composing the music for Railroad Tycoon 2. The video game and Calahan's soundtrack sold 2 million copies.

"I'm a guy who can say he sold 2 million albums, but I can walk down the street and nobody's going to say there's a guy who went double platinum," said Calahan.

Some video game soundtracks are computer generated. Others use live musicians. It's all about the budget.

"If you can hire a 30 piece orchestra, that's fantastic. Most people do not have the budget for it," said Calahan.

The best game soundtracks are works of art in their own right, and gamers have high expectations.

"So you're not just going to be delivering the game to the world, but the soundtrack might be available for download and on disc," said Raithel.

"You can have a fantastic track but it has to match the game itself," said Calahan.

The bar has been raised for game music. In 2012 the soundtrack for the video game Journey was nominated for a Grammy, going head-to-head against film soundtracks by superstar composers John Williams and Hans Zimmer.


To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment