The composer behind Tomb Raider and Dead Space 3 gets the rapid-fire question treatment

FAQ: Jason Graves

Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Jason Graves and I bang on things for a living. I’ve also been known to compose music for film, TV and video games.

What are you working on right now?
I just wrapped up the scores for Dead Space 3 and Tomb Raider, so I’m putting the finishing touches on their soundtracks. I also have a few films and multiple games in the works that, unfortunately, I am sworn to secrecy on.

What was the first video game or product that you ever worked on in the industry?
King Arthur in 2008. Fifty minutes of music in three weeks – an eye opener compared to my usual ad work back then, which was more like the same thirty seconds of music over and over again for six weeks.

What was the first video game you ever played, and did you enjoy it?
Space Invaders, the tabletop version, waiting at a restaurant with my parents. My Dad only had a few quarters and I took his spare change to the bar for more quarters so I could keep playing. After that I was hooked.

What was the most recent video game you played, and did you enjoy it?
I’ve probably played through the new Tomb Raider eight times. Oh, you mean games I’m not working on? Far Cry 3 and Arkham City – I really enjoyed both.

What is your favourite game ever and why?
I was addicted to any side-scroller spaceship game as a kid. I think that’s stuck with me through time. I also really, really love playing games like 1941, which is a vertical scroller.

What area of the games industry do you think needs more ‘investment’?
Bringing composers in earlier in the development cycle of a game, even if there isn’t a clear idea for the music direction. That’s one of the most critical – and easiest – investments a developer can make in the overall sound and originality of their title.

What do you enjoy about the video games industry today?
Hands down, the wonderful people and the creativity they foster in the industry.

What disappoints you about the video games industry today?
When a company allows the marketing department to be the driving force behind a title. Nothing is more disappointing than being asked to copy something that came before, just because it was successful, and not be allowed to innovate on your own.

Of all the games you have worked on, which has been your favourite?
Tomb Raider, hands down. They let me run free and try things I’ve never done before. And they included all of it in the final score.

What game that you weren’t involved with would you most liked to have worked on?
Any of the Elder Scrolls titles. I just love that genre and the universe they created.

What other video games developer do you most admire?
Naughty Dog. I think they’ve done a wonderful job with immersive, high-quality storytelling in their games.

What hobbies, collections or interests do you have that are unrelated to video games?
Cooking. I’m slightly obsessed. I even have chickens in my backyard – right next to the studio – for access to organic, fresh eggs every day.

What is your favourite book, film, television show and album of all time?
Hard to pick favourites, but currently I’m reading Kind of Blue: The Making of the Miles Davis Masterpiece, really enjoying the BBC’s new season of Sherlock and have been listening to a great local band, from Durham, North Carolina, called Delta Rae.

How many hours a week do you spend playing video games?
Probably a few hours a day, either playing games I’m working on or just having fun!

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