Production Values: Games People Play Web Clip 1

An interview with Tommy Tallarico, game-composing superhero.

Tell me about G.A.N.G. and how it got started.
Back in the early to mid-‘90s, all of us game-audio guys would sit around and complain that audio was always the last thing that people thought about. Audio was always on the end of the project. The producers would say, “We have no time left; we don''t have any money left; we don''t have any space left. Make us something that sounds okay.” It was never thought of from the beginning.

I went to Project BarBQ, an annual game and mobile-audio think-tank event put on in Texas by legendary video-game composer George “the Fatman” Sanger and his associates, in intense Texas style. And I said, “You know what, George? I''d like to start a revolution. I want to get by the campfire, put on a cowboy hat and the six-shooters, and give a speech about how we all have to stop complaining about [the situation] and get together to do something about it.

So I did that. [After the initial discussions at Project BarBQ], I called up all of my buddies in the game industry, and 40 of us had a meeting at Dolby on 02/02/02. Across two days we put the whole thing together. From there, I took it and we got Jack Wall involved. Clint Bajakian [ex-LucasArts composer, now senior music supervisor at Sony Creative Entertainment America] became the first vice president, and we built a Web site and launched it at GDC [that March].

G.A.N.G. is all about sharing resources. When you go into the film and television world, everyone''s afraid to talk about who their contacts are and what they made on a project. Everyone holds their cards really close to the chest. My whole thing with G.A.N.G. was, “You know what? Here''s my contracts; here''s what I make; here''s who you should contact if you''re looking to submit your demo tape to EA” . . . I didn''t care. I want everybody to hopefully be as successful as I have become. This might not work for you, but here''s all of the things I did to get to where I am today.

Elvis Presley [said] “TCB—Taking Care of Business.” I say “Technical, Creative, Business.” In order to have the biggest chance of doing well, you really have to master those three things. It was always about that.

So what form does this all take? You have an awards ceremony, and there are online forums, right?
Yeah, the G.A.N.G. forums are a great place to get a lot of questions answered. We also just formed the Interactive Entertainment Sound Developers branch of G.A.N.G., which is strictly for high-end sound designers.

The awards are a great way to recognize individuals to the public. We also do a lot of education [for] publishers and developers, saying “Hey, if you spend the money on a live orchestra, here''s the difference, here''s what it sounds like.” And “Did you know that 5.1 in DTS or Dolby are available?”

Online we do a lot of interviews, classes, and articles on things like how to submit your demo CD to a company, and we''ll have four or five of the top demo receivers in the world for video games talking about what they like to get.

We have a $20,000 annual scholarship program for students (in conjunction with Ex''pression College for Digital Arts), so we help people looking to make this a career. We have partnership programs with schools, universities, and businesses, and we create college curricula. We also have contracts online you can download and use in your own business. It''s also a great place for video-game producers to find that perfect composer.