Play Expo Manchester

Networking with Game devs

Last week, the biggest gaming expo in the North of England, Play Expo Manchester, welcomed developers, artists, programmers, composers and audio designers from all over the world. Two of ThinkSpace Education’s postgraduate students, Lois and Martin, attended so we’ve got hold of them for a quick chat to see what their experiences were like.

Hey Folks! Introduce yourselves and what you are studying

Lois Professional Media Composition – part time over 3 years.  Because life happens and there’s no way I’d manage full time whilst also trying to hold down a job and look after a 4 year old and a 6 year old!

– I’m Martin from Liverpool and I’m doing the PMC MA as well but Full Time.

Have you been to a similar event before?

Lois – No, this is my first time at a games expo, so I have nothing to compare to, but I absolutely loved it!

Martin – I’ve been to exhibitions on Media and Video, but this was the first gaming one I’ve attended.

Where did you hear about PlayExpo?

Lois – I can’t honestly remember, somewhere online I think, perhaps from a mailing list, but maybe Martin told me…

– Actually I’m pretty sure you (Lois) told me about it, from an article on the Sound Architect Website. 

What was your aim for attending the event?

Lois – Networking with game developers and composers and education regarding what other composers have recently been involved with in games.

Martin – Listen to talks from composers and sound designers working in game and finding out about what’s new and popular in the gaming world and meeting indie developers exhibiting there.

What were you able to do at PlayExpo?

Lois – It was great actually!  I went to several talks throughout the day from working composers involved in successful games, including David Housden (a Thinkspace grad) who did the music for ‘Thomas was Alone’ and Adam Hay who composed for ‘Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture.’  Learned a bit more about FMod.  Also played some new games, chatted with developers, gave out lots of business cards, saw lots of random merchandise (including lots of old games consoles – was very tempted to get a SNES…!).

Martin – The Sound Architect had put together a day long program of talks on game audio. They covered audio in VR, FMOD, and an audio panel with game composers. We could also try out new games from indie dev teams and there was a huge array of retro games to play too!

What were some of your highlights from the event?

Lois – Networking with game developers to potentially get a job was really useful and good practice.  Also managed to get on to a Beta Testing programme at Manchester Met by chatting to one of the course coordinators, which will hopefully mean networking with local games developers and students.  Chatting to successful games composers after the talks and getting career tips directly from them was excellent!  Seeing people dressed up in full games costumes was great but also signalled to me how seriously some people take gaming.

Martin – Chatting to the all game composers who were very friendly and generous with their time and advice. Particularly interested to hear that composer David Housen (Volume: Coda) had gone through Music for the Media and Cinematic Orchestration courses from ThinkSpace. Another highlight was playing games from my childhood (still managed to get 1st place on Screamer, despite not playing it for 20 years!)

Do you feel better off as a composer after attending PLAY Expo Manchester?

Lois – It’s definitely opened my eyes to a few things of how the games composing world works.  I’m now trying to keep in touch with people I’ve connected with and I’ll hopefully go back next year, and perhaps also to other games events.

Martin – It’s given me confidence to believe that a career in composing in entirely possible, provided you work hard, research your field and take the time to get out there and meet people.

What advice would you give someone attending a similar event in the future?

Lois – Absolutely go for it!  Don’t be afraid to just introduce yourself to people, everyone was so friendly and completely open to chatting which was excellent.  Next time I would probably do more research before I went to learn a bit about the composers and games on offer so I could ask more intelligent and informed questions!  This particular event was not expensive (£20) and if I get some work or connections out of it, that will more than pay for itself.  It was great to see a Thinkspace grad clearly doing well – gives me hope for the future!  The food and drink on offer was definitely dubious – either take your own or plan to go out for lunch like we did!

Martin – Go for it, take lots of business cards, talk to as many people as possible and follow up your meetings afterwards. Oh, and enjoy it too!

Thanks to Lois and Martin for sharing their words on the Play Expo event. I hope you’ve been inspired to get out and get meeting people in the real world, as well as over the internet.

If you are interested in a career in video game audio or music, check out our postgraduate courses like the MFA Game Music and Audio , or the MA Composing for Video Games , or if it’s just audio that’s your thing, the MA Sound Design for Video Games .

About the Author
Matt Lightbound

Matt Lightbound

Matt is at the helm of all the things video game related. He's worked in the industry as a sound designer, composer, audio editor and voice casting/directing.

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