How did your attachment to games begin?
I grew up with video games. As a kid I moved a lot and games were a limited commodity, but they were also a constant. No matter where I was I could experience adventure and visit incredible fictional worlds, and I would sink hundreds of hours into playing and replaying games like Mario 64, Neverwinter Nights and Summoner.
Was that where your interest in game audio began?
I come from a musical family so I’ve always been an active listener. I remember music having as much of an effect on me as great art or enjoyable gameplay, so I was always aware of sound as an important part of the experience. It wasn’t until years later that I realised I could have a career in game audio.
What did you study at school that led you in this direction?
I gravitated towards creative or storytelling subjects like English and History. I was home schooled so I didn’t have a traditional musical education, but the variety of musical influences I was exposed to helped me get excited about sound. At university I translated my love of music into an obsession with sound design, making the games industry a more exciting prospect than ever before.
What was the point when you realised it could be a career?
When I started hearing the stories of people working in the industry. There are so many resources – interviews with sound designers, composers and audio directors – and hearing about their mismatched routes in was inspiring, because they had such different backgrounds and specialisms but they all found a place in games. The industry is changing so fast that not everything I saw online was accurate, and ultimately the best advice I got was from talking to the people currently working in it. It was their support and friendliness that made me feel welcome, and made me confident that a career in games was possible.
Tell us about your university course.
I studied Creative Music Technology at the University of Surrey. It’s an unusual combination of sound subjects, including traditional music topics, modules dedicated to individual creative practice using computers, and general sound design. You could make glitch music or rock music or noise or soundscape – anything, as long as you were using technology to do it. It was a pretty good fit for someone who was interested in game audio, in the absence of a dedicated sound design course. What it offered in variety it lacked in specialisation, so I had to be mindful of my specific interest in sound design and focus my coursework on that as much as possible, which fortunately my teachers supported.
What brought you to Criterion?
Need for Speed Hot Pursuit arrived in my life just when I was getting interested in motorcycles, so I was aware of Criterion before I went to Surrey. I joined the studio as an intern and fell in love with its creativity, collaborative ethos and absolutely wonderful people, so I stayed on during and after finishing my degree.
What drives your sound design work?
I like to compare it to riding a motorcycle. When I’m riding a bike, how I remember it feeling isn’t how it actually feels. I remember adrenaline, focus, freedom, speed, and clarity, which isn’t representative of the whole ride (it probably included stoplights, boring traffic, and some potholes – as well as the more exciting stuff). I want my sounds to feel like how you remember something feeling.
Do you feel like part of a new generation of women in games?
I do. When I started my career I was surprised by how few women were working in development, but I’ll be much more surprised if the same is true in five years. I feel fortunate to be here during such rapid growth and change; gamers are more diverse and numerous than ever, and as a game maker I’m aware that what we make and how we work today will define the industry for decades to come. It’s an exciting time to be involved and I’m fortunate to work with people across the gender spectrum who are committed to making games that represent our players and inspire the next generation of makers.
Rosa’s Recommended Motorcycles
- Honda CBR650F
- Kawasaki GPZ500
- Honda CG125