How To: Be a Video Game Musician

The music in a video game is one of the best parts of any game for me. The composers can enhance – or ruin – a moment just by playing the right note at the right time. I’ve never been a creative soul, and have never really attempted to become the next Nobuo Uematsu, but FutureLearn, in partnership with Abertay University, are giving everyone the opportunity to try.

Game Design and Development: A Bit-by-Bit History of Video Game Music

The above course is open for enrolment now and starts on 18th September 2017, featuring exclusive interviews with video game musicians who have worked on some of the world’s biggest games titles.

Abertay University, the UK Centre for Excellence for Computer Games Education, and FutureLearn, the social learning platform, are today announcing the upcoming launch of the platform’s first course in Gaming: ‘Game Design and Development: A Bit-by-Bit History of Video Game Music’. This is Abertay University’s inaugural course on the FutureLearn platform and their first foray into free online education. The announcement comes as the University celebrates 20 years since becoming first in the world to offer degrees in computer games.

The course will plug learners into the world of video game music. It is aimed at anyone interested in game design and development, including those who are considering studying it at university and entering the games industry. It will also appeal to anyone interested in electronic or gaming music, movie soundtracks, screen media and video games.

The course draws on technology, musicology and cultural studies to explore the development of video game music. Charting the evolution of the video game sound from the perspective of the platforms that have defined it, students will discover how the simple tones of ‘Pong’ and other classic 8-bit soundtracks transformed into the tense cinematic arrangements of today’s first-person shooters. In the early stages of the course, learners will explore the domestication of video games, as well as the machines and hardware the kick-started the industry. Learners will then be able to watch and engage with a range of interviews with video game musicians, such as Colin Anderson, who masterminded the music in Grand Theft Auto and Lemmings, Mark Knight, composer of Wing Commander, Battletoads and the Formula 1 series, and legendary Commodore 64 composer, Rob Hubbard.

Kenny McAlpine, the lead educator for the course

Dr Kenny McAlpine, lead educator on the course and musician, author and academic from the School of Design and Informatics at Abertay University, said: “We are delighted to be working with Futurelearn on this course and sharing our passion for video game development with a global audience. This initial course is the first of many.”

“We’ve managed to compliment my informal and conversational teaching style by integrating the platforms social learning pedagogy, therefore creating a course that will be enjoyable, accessible and informative, regardless of experience.”

“It’s the ideal place to start if you are interested in getting into the video games music scene, and I hope that those who complete the course will want to go on and learn more about this fascinating subject.”

Nigel Smith, Head of Content at FutureLearn, said: “We’re very excited about this new partnership and the upcoming launch of Abertay University’s first ever online course in Computer Games Education. Abertay are experts in their field so we’re very proud to be able to share their innovative ideas and specialist knowledge with our community of learners while welcoming new people interested in gaming to our platform.”

As with all FutureLearn courses, the course can be taken for free or there is the option to upgrade to receive additional benefits, as seen in the below image.

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