[In this interview, storied game composer Rika Muranaka shares her thoughts on what it takes to write and create music for video games, film, and more.]
Video game and film music are often compared against each other due to their distinct similarities -- and notable differences. Film and game music scores are very similar in that they both focus on enhancing the images we see onscreen. The main difference, however, comes down to the linear and non-linear format in which they are composed.
Music in games is non-linear, which means it is not restricted by a timeline. In games, players control the action, and thus they have some control over when and how they hear individual songs. Film music, meanwhile, works in a traditional linear pattern where the music is always the same, and is designed to fit the images on screen down to the very second.
The technical process of game scoring is more complex than film scoring: Game music is scored with user control in mind, and the music needs to adapt to user commands in relation to changes in the pace of events.
The actual creative process behind crafting a game's musical score is very similar to working in film, but musicians working on games have to keep a few extra considerations in mind to make their score work well for the medium. In turn, this is opening new doors for composers who are attracted to the game industry.
One such example is composer Rika Muranaka, who has been working on games for roughly 15 years. She's produced the musical themes to some of Konami's most successful titles, including the renowned Metal Gear Solid franchise, Silent Hill (Song: "Esperándote"), and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (Song: "I Am the Wind").
As a composer, one of Muranaka's fundamental roles in video game music is to shape and tone the dramatic onscreen events and elevate the cinematic experience for video game audiences worldwide. In this interview, she discusses her own process for composing music for games, and explains why video game music is very different than any other medium.
How did you first get into composing music?
I started to write when I was 16 years old. I became professional jazz pianist in Chicago and I would just write every day. I first got into writing music for myself and then I got into writing music for commercials, advertising, and demos for multimedia companies in Japan. I got a record deal from a major record company in Japan as an artist in 1992. I was fascinated by the game industry, so I started to write for Konami in 1995 or 1996.