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Zevik Perry M.M. ’14 has transformed his passion for video games into a successful career as a game composer and sound designer with a studio in Tel Aviv, Israel. An avid gamer in his youth, he became interested in the sophisticated evolution of game audio design while at Berklee’s campus in Valencia, Spain, and realized that his hobby could become his career.
“The thought that I could be a part of this industry, making a game along with other creative professionals, was very appealing,” he said. “I started gaining interest in the process of developing games, and my curiosity for audio design grew as well.”
Perry’s credits include Destiny 2, the biggest and longest project he’s worked on, and Spirit Oath, an indie game that allowed him to be in charge of every aspect of the audio process.
From Performer to Composer
Perry’s career journey started at the Rimon School of Jazz and Contemporary Music in Israel, where he graduated with a degree in music performance, general and education, and planned to become a performer and music teacher. During his last year, he started thinking, however, about writing his own music.
Perry had already lived in Spain, where he studied flamenco guitar for two years and also met his wife. “We both really wanted to go back, and coincidently, I stumbled upon the Berklee Valencia website and read about the Master of Music in Scoring for Film, Television, and Video Games. I contacted a few filmmaker friends who sent me short films to score and created my portfolio. I knew I made the right decision, and I was super excited to start my studies at Berklee,” he recalled.
In Valencia, he saw his career and family grow in parallel as he and his daughter started school on the same day, Perry in his graduate program and his daughter in kindergarten. At Berklee, Perry found “the excellent hands-on approach of all the courses, the great instructors who were always there to give us the guidance and feedback we needed, and the supportive, friendly and professional atmosphere, which made it a great nurturing ground for every one of us.”
Scoring a Video Game
Most people might think of creating video games as a lonely activity, but that’s far from the truth. “Developing a game is a true collaboration between all departments and people who are involved. Their interactive nature means there’s endless room for content and the audio needs to be thought of in unique ways,” Perry said.
His process when working on a project is the following: “I am given a script or a prototype of the game to read it or play it and then write music or implement audio content to it. After creating that initial piece of audio, I receive feedback, and that’s when the collaboration starts to be more interesting. On the one hand, you have to listen and absorb the feedback the best way you can, but on the other, your teammates will expect you to be an independent thinker that will lead and reach for what you believe should be the best for the game.”
Aside from composing and orchestrating, he has also designed sounds for video games like Purgatory Guardian. The process involves creating a palette informed by the story and the emotional journey followed by the player, so in these cases, he dives deeper in the character and the environment to be able to design the appropriate audio experience to each situation.
“Even familiar sounds from our day-to-day [life] can be created in various ways. To design the sound of moving trees in the wind, for example, I could actually record sounds of squeaky wood or design a cool synth patch, or even combine the two together. There are many ways this can be achieved, but we should always remember and focus on the story and the emotional context,” said Perry.
Currently, he is working on two science fiction–oriented video games and finalizing the assembly and release of the soundtrack for the recently launched Spirit Oath. Perry defines his work approach as holistic, blending music and sound design as one. The reason being is, that, in his view, audio will always add another dimension to a visual creation; it doesn’t matter if it’s a film or a video game, a souring violin or the rustle of leaves in the winds or the sound of muddy footsteps, a big chaotic explosion or complete silence.