What do you get when you combine a tech conference, rockstars, and video games? Your answer probably wasn’t “a former Nine Inch Nails band member” but that’s okay.
This is exactly why Hackfort is not your traditional tech conference. This year, their keynote was Robin Finck, a guitarist who played for Nine Inch Nails and Guns N’ Roses. Our team was obviously intrigued when we saw his name listed as the keynote speaker, so we attended his talk.
How does a rockstar end up speaking at a digital humanities conference?
When the Hackfort organizers reached out to Finck about speaking at Hackfort, he wanted to say no. Growing up an introvert, public speaking is one of Robin’s biggest fears but he decided to take the leap. He started his talk with one of the most engaging stories I’ve ever heard. He was soft spoken, direct, and had us all sitting at the edge of our seats. Following his enchanting introduction, we dove straight into the land of rock n’ roll and video games.
Here’s the thing, Robin didn’t just fall into game composition. He explained that he’s always had an appreciation for game scores, but the opportunity was kind of unconventional.
He met Mike Wilson, the man who brought him into the gaming world, at Burning Man in the 90’s. Years later, Mike went on to have an influential career in games marketing and publishing. In 2008 he co-founded Devolver Digital, a savvy video game publisher. At that point he reached out to Robin and asked if he had interest in scoring a game.
“I was mindful to explore a breadth of keys and tonalities as a reaction to the randomness that game play imposes.” — Robin Finck
Audio’s Impact on Gameplay
Previously most videogames were totally silent or contained simple beeps and boops (think, Atari’s Pong). Then came the days of simple 8-bit soundtracks on games like the Legends of Zelda. Recently, audio has become an increasingly important part of game design. In fact, producers are now exploring gameplay that revolves entirely around music. To make this happen, game designers are tuning into the psychology of sound in relation to gameplay and in turn, games are more immersive than ever before.
Okay, so back to our initial question. What do you get when you combine a tech conference, rockstars, and video games? The answer was “Robin Finck” but an alternative response could easily be “ a Jelli employee”. Tech, music, and gaming are all a big part of our company culture. This keynote talk was our jam.
Are you a gamer? If so, do you feel like audio plays a big role in gameplay? Chat with us on Twitter!