Delighted you’re here! I’m video game composer Winifred Phillips, and this past year has been particularly busy for me. I’ve released several projects this year, including Sackboy: A Big Adventure (my latest, pictured above) – and I’m very pleased that my Waltz of the Bubbles composition from Sackboy: A Big Adventure just won a Global Music Award, and is nominated along with the rest of the game’s soundtrack in this year’s NAVGTR Awards! In between projects, I’ve given three virtual talks this past year at the Game Developers Conference in March, the VGM Academy Live event in April, and the GDC Summer event in August. Popular events like these are great opportunities to touch base with the community and exchange ideas about the art of game composition and the business of being a video game composer.
All during this time, I’ve been keeping up with this blog, writing monthly articles that explore different topics of interest to us as game composers. In addition to the regular monthly entries, every year I write an article that tries to answer the question, “how does an aspiring composer break into the video game industry?” This is the question I’m personally asked most often, and it’s one I always struggle to answer.
Part of the reason for this is that my own “breaking into the business” story is so unusual. My first video game project happened to be a triple-A blockbuster (God of War from Sony Interactive), and I was able to land the gig because an example of my work landed on the desk of a music supervisor for the project at exactly the right time. What are the chances of that? It’s akin to being struck by lightning, and I certainly can’t advise young composers to depend on that kind of lightning to strike. But I don’t want to leave hopeful young composers in the lurch either.
So every year, I revisit the subject, trying to learn what helpful advice might be offered by virtue of the common wisdom that exists at the time. In expert articles and community posts, the subject is ceaselessly examined and reconsidered. It’s an evolving conversation that shifts in subtle but appreciable ways from year to year. So this is the 2021 edition, in which I share the interesting observations I’ve gathered from online sources during the previous year. Hopefully, this article will provide some guidance and support for those who are embarking on their own game music careers. But first, in case anyone might like to hear a fuller retelling of my own “breaking into the business” story, here’s an interview I gave in 2011 with GameSpot in which I recount how I landed my first gig. The relevant discussion begins at 4 minutes and 15 seconds: