Winifred Phillips launched into the video game industry in 2004 after composing the score for the video game God of War for Sony. Her credits include scores for The Da Vinci Code, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Legend of the Guardians, which was the first video game soundtrack album released by WaterTower Music, the film music record label of Warner Bros. Her most recent project is a book, A Composer’s Guide to Game Music, released in March 2014.
“I’m a gamer and have always been one, and it’s an exciting way to tell stories,” Phillips says. “It combines lots of qualities of TV and film with interactive technologies that let the audience feel personal choice, which is interesting to me as a composer; it makes me feel like my contribution is more a collaboration with the audience, because they are mentally engaged with me and with the experience. It’s true for all storytellers and writers creating the video games.”
Phillips works with six computers, large sample libraries and System 6000 for digital processing, but she also uses live musicians and vocal chorales in some projects, like Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation.
“It’s an exciting way to merge organic quality into the technological aspects of music creation,” she says. “The creation can be a fairly long process. My role is to get inside the developers’ heads and look at the concept art, design documents, any materials I can absorb and understand.”
The composer herself plays a lot of games, but says the role-playing game Final Fantasy VII was a major influence on her. “One of the most vivid scenes is the final battle where the music turns into this big choral passage when it suddenly breaks into live battle, and it really grabs your heart. I didn’t know music could elevate an experience like that and show the importance of the moment.”
Phillips is now working on two projects, but cannot divulge details because of nondisclosure agreements.
Most Recent: A Composer's Guide to Game Music