Ben Houge

Professor
617 747-6233

"I teach video game music in the Film Scoring Department. I try to focus on techniques more than specific tools—theoretical concepts that can be applied in a bunch of different contexts. I want to keep it interdisciplinary so people are seeing connections between what we're talking about here and a broader cultural context."

"Even if some of my students don't go into careers in video games, I think these are important concepts. How to structure nonlinear media, the applications for that go beyond video games. We're having digitally mediated interactive experiences all around us every day. Going through the subway turnstile, there's audio feedback; increasingly, we're seeing interactive kiosks in advertising contexts or shopping venues, museum installations, things like that."

"For the intro class they do an analysis project, where they look at the music implementation in a specific game. For the overview course they actually score to a slice of game play. You could easily spend a whole semester just getting people up to speed with a game development environment, the actual program, and how to integrate music into that. We have an engine simulator, an application that runs in MaxMSP that Michael Sweet developed. It basically allows you to push buttons that simulate events coming from a game, so you can find a slice of gameplay and score it, but not in a linear way. So instead of letting it play from beginning to end, when this happens, press this button, making the music change in this way. It's a good way to give people a taste of it."

"Games aren't just for teenage boys; it's really diversifying. I think along with the demographic diversity, there's a really healthy genre diversity. There's a potential for a new kind of interactive experience. I really think the idea of somebody who doesn't play games, 20 years from now, is going to be like somebody who doesn't go to movies. It's just a kind of cultural literacy."

Career Highlights
  • B.A., Music, St. Olaf College
  • M.M., Composition, University of Washington
  • Vocalist and keyboard/electronics player
  • Performances with Elliot Sharp, Safety Scissors, Torturing Nurse, Yan Jun, Dajuin Yao, Wang Chang Cun, Nosaj Thing, and Owl City
  • Recordings include 3 Heart-Shaped Cookies, Radiospace 040823, and Chingachgook(s)
  • Composer and/or audio designer for the video games Tom Clancy's EndWar, Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30, Arcanum, Half-Life: Opposing Force, King's Quest: Mask of Eternity, Leisure Suit Larry 7, and Gabriel Knight 3