Most music students take one of two career paths. They can turn their music degree into a job teaching music to public school students — the safer and more common path — or they can aim to perform in orchestras or bands — a path with fewer assurances.
But Nicholas Anderson graduated from the University of Wyoming Music Department on Friday with a different goal in mind: composing soundtracks for video games.
“(Anderson) is blazing the way, really, for a new generation of people who say ‘I don’t necessarily want to teach and I don’t want to stake everything on performing, but I’d sure like to stay involved in music, so what else can I do?’” said Scott Meredith, associate professor of trumpet. “So, that’s kind of exciting.”
Inspired by the work of John Williams — composer of the classic soundtracks for the “Star Wars,” “Superman” and “Indiana Jones” films, as well as the iconic theme for the Olympic Games — Anderson said he has always wanted to compose, despite the patience involved.
“It’s usually a pretty long journey,” Anderson said. “You’re looking at years and years of study and you don’t score your first film for probably 10 years after you start looking to do this sort of thing.”
But Anderson won’t have to wait a decade — or even a full summer — because he has already been offered a job in the field of his dreams.
During college, Anderson had a few small jobs — scoring Facebook games or hobby projects.
Those jobs led to a summer internship with the Seattle-based independent game developer Strangeloop Games, during which Anderson did music composition, audio programming and sound design.
In anticipation of his graduation, Strangeloop offered him a job.
“I was lucky in the fact that I was able to land a couple of jobs really early on in my college career, doing music not for film, but for the gaming industry,” said Anderson, who will be moving to Seattle to start his composing career.
Anderson will be working on a planned major PC and Mac release titled “Eco.” Anderson said the multiplayer building game asks players to work together, building up new technologies and, eventually, a space laser to save the planet from a deadly meteoroid hurdling toward the planet and scheduled to crash 30 days after the game’s start.
“The catch is that everything takes place in a simulated ecosystem environment so players have to take resources from the world … but if they do so in an irresponsible way, it has adverse affects on how these resources can be replenished,” Anderson said. “The primary idea of the game is to save the planet without destroying it in the process.”
Anderson said the educational game will be used during studies conducted in conjunction with the Washington Department of Education to find out how gaming influences decision-making in the classroom setting.
Anderson has a bright future, his adviser said.
“He’s extremely dedicated — off-the-charts dedicated,” Meredith said. “He came in with an idea he wanted to pursue writing music for motion pictures … he never let up from that. He loves it and he’s not stopping for anything.”