• Ben Gallagher

Top Tips for Game Audio Students

Many game audio pros have taken the university path in order to kick-start their careers.


And it makes sense.


Most of us aren't equipped with the skills necessary to make pro-level sound and music for games when we're just graduating high school.


While having a degree certainly isn't necessary to establish yourself in this field, choosing to study is still a wise choice for many.


And if you've made this choice, you might be wondering...


What can you do to make the most of your time as a game audio student and get your career started on the right foot?


Let's take a look!


Transition from student to pro with these easy tips!



Skills Pay the Bills


There are a multitude of skills required to create the type of audio career most of us dream of having.


You'll need:

  • Determination

  • Focus

  • Perseverance

  • Soft Skills

  • Creativity

  • Ingenuity

  • Technical Know-How


The list goes on and on...


And while it is always beneficial to see that you become a well-rounded person on top of your skills with audio, there's no getting around the following fact:


There are no mediocre sound designers or composers at the top.

How good you are at what you do is going to have a direct effect on your professional opportunities.


And guess what?


No one can get good for you.


That's all on you!


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Your audio chops need to be SWOLE



If the sound effects or music you are making don't cut it, being really determined or having great time management skills will only get you so far.


And this is, in one man's humble opinion, the real area where university shines.


University programs give you access to professors, equipment, tutors, and a network of support that is all provided for you to be your absolute best by the time you graduate.


USE THEEEEMMMMM!


1 | Visit your professors during their office hours for extra feedback on your work.


2 | Use the audio facilities as much as you can so that there isn't anything you don't know about life in a pro studio environment.


3 | Go all-in on extra credit, extracurricular, extra everything!


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This is your life! Don't half-ass it!



I want to inspire you to do your best (and if you read blogs like this in your free time, I believe you're already on the right path), but I also want you to understand the reality of this industry.


There are dozens, sometimes hundreds of applicants for pretty much every game audio job available.


At that can only mean one thing:


Average isn't enough anymore.


So squeeze everything out of your university experience that you can!




Treat Yourself Like You're Already a Pro


While you're leveling up your audio skills like crazy, there's another simple way to make great use of your time as a student.


Go out and network with your future colleagues.


Yes friends, "good things come to those who wait" doesn't mean sitting on your butt at home playing FIFA.


You have to start putting yourself out there!


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Get out there! Like... now!



Treat yourself like you are already a full-time member of the industry.


1 | Go to meetups.


2 | Hang out with the local game dev and audio scene.


3 | Attend events and conventions whenever possible!


Why do this when you perhaps haven't even learned the basics of your craft yet?


Simply put, the number of opportunities you will have in your career directly relates to what I like to call "The Two R's".


  • Relationships

  • Reputation


You might think that establishing a reputation and industry relationships only has to do with how many projects you've done and how good your work is.


Well... you're wrong!


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As it turns out, showing people that you're eager to be an active part of the community is unbelievably valuable!


And as a student, you automatically have a pass to not know everything or have done any jaw-dropping work yet.


Almost everybody in the game industry is super nice and more than willing to chat with a student about their work and the path they took to get where they are today.


This means you're basically in the perfect position to network.


Since you aren't expected to know much, you won't offend anyone by simply asking questions about their job and the industry at large!


And I guarantee if you do this you will not only create new relationships with interesting people in the industry, you will also start building a reputation for being a genuine, inquisitive person who is great to hang out with.


If you see an open sound design position or a call for composers later and the company or client already knows, likes, and trusts you, you're going to have a huge leg up on the competition, but this process takes a long time.


So start today!




Jam Your Ass Off


If you're very new to game audio, you might not have heard of game jams.


Come, my children, and I will show you the way...


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Prince knows what I'm talking about



Simply put, game jams are events where people get together and try to make a game in an incredibly tight window of time.


They are super challenging but a lot of fun and an incredible opportunity to not only get some real-life, the-deadline-is-coming experience, but you also will meet other like-minded people who love games and want to work/are already working in the industry.


But where can you find a game jam to participate in?


Besides local jams which are often organized by Meetup groups or as part of larger game industry events, there are tons of online game jams happening literally EVERY. DAY.


Just check the itch.io game jams page and you can drop in on any number of jams.


You can crunch like crazy for a whole weekend or check out a 1-2 week jam that you can work on between classes.


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Whatever you choose, the experience will be great and the more you jam now, the more you have to offer to potential employers in the future!




Takeaway


Hindsight is 20/20 and I've heard many gripes and complaints over the years about how universities don't "prepare students properly" for the real world.


Most of the time, those complaints were coming from me while I was struggling to figure out what the hell I was doing with my career.


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Don't be this person. No one likes this person.



If you're smart, you'll realize now what many only find out later:


No university is a golden ticket to the career of your dreams.


So make the most of your time as a student, but be open and willing to go the extra mile for all those things that you won't find in a textbook.


Because one more mile is certainly worth it for the job you've always wanted, right?



"Your education is a dress rehearsal for a life that is yours to lead."


Nora Ephron



Do you have any questions related to studying, applying to schools, or life after university?


Drop them in the comment box below and I'll happily answer them!


I created The Game Audio Pro with the goal of helping others understand the fundamental business skills that are often the difference between success and failure for freelancers.


If you're ready to take your game audio career to the next level, download my guide to The Most Important Mindset for Game Audio Success.