Strategic Music provides quality music, sounds, and voice-overs. It was founded in 2003 and currently has more than 350 projects in its portfolio. Producer and voice-over director William Bucknum has considerable experience in composing, preforming, and script-editing. His history led him to the realization of audio’s importance in video games.
Bucknum has been captivated by music since singing with his mother’s piano as a child. He developed a deep appreciation for all kinds of music. As he grew, his interest grew more serious, and he became an accomplished saxophonist in high school. He continued focusing his skills in college, as well as nurtured his other interest of writing. He discovered that all his skills and knowledge would be useful to video games, voice-overs in particular. “Casting and recording actors is just a continuation of making a unified vision for how I think a game’s story should be told,” said Bucknum. “At heart, that’s what my passion in music and voice-overs is for— good storytelling.”
Audio is a component that can have a lasting impact on a player. It can pull a player deeper into a game for a more immersive experience, according to Bucknum. “The leap from playing something distant from yourself to delving into this full world of well-crafted sound design and music and well-made voice-overs make games infinitely more addicting and makes you feel like you’re truly a part of something,” said Bucknum. “Good audio brings magic into games and dissolves the distance between the player and the game.”
A player’s interest in a game may also depend on if a player can accept a game. Localization helps this condition. In Bucknum’s opinion, if a script isn’t translated for a specific audience, it becomes uncomfortable for the player. “In fact, games fundamentally play to a person’s identity— a player’s own personal experiences, language, and culture interact with the world of the game,” said Bucknum.
If the game isn’t sensitive to its players and their backgrounds, the players can actually feel like the game is disrespecting them.
Preparing a script can be tricky, and so can making decisions about the script. Bucknum believes the most common mistake developers make is handing off a script as “perfect” and insisting it be followed exactly. “Since scripts are so important in games because they highlight the key plot turns and moments of character development; if the plot has major problems or if a character is developed in an unbelievable way— then the voice-over director is in a serious pickle (along with the game),” said Bucknum. To avoid this error, he advises contacting the voice-over director early to discuss the game, and then correct issues that can’t wait till the end.
Future of Strategic Music
Strategic Music continues increasing their extensive portfolio while uncovering ways to better assist clients. The company wants to create partnerships early in the development process to produce quality sounds. “We will continue to make great audio atmospheres for games, but we hope that more games that we work on will feature improved stories and character development that our actors are really able to capitalize on,” said Bucknum.