Sounds from Singapore: Interview with Gwen of IMBA
Nathan Gokhool from Robot Republic sits down with Gwen Guo from IMBA Singapore about the exciting and burgeoning field of game audio in Singapore and South East Asia.
RR: Tell me what your name is where you work and what your job title is?
Gwen IMBA: Hi I am Gwen Creative Director and Co-founder of IMBA Interactive we are a sound studio based in Singapore we specialize in sound fx, music, voice-over as well as implementation.
RR: Tell us about the spark that ignited your passion for game audio?
Gwen IMBA: I’ve been pretty much a gamer since I was about 5 years old onwards.
When I was about 13 I got into electronic dance music thanks to radio that introduced me to trance and house,
I decided to learn how to produce some music It felt natural to marry both disciplines together.
I started working as a game composer then I went into sound design.
Essentially what kept me in the discipline of game audio is the community
RR: How did you get your start in games?
Gwen IMBA: I was producing music on the side as well as drawing.
The polytechnic I was studying at offered an incubation program called the Singapore MIT IMBA game lab.
A joint initiative between the students in Singapore as well as the research goals in MIT Boston.
We got sent to MIT Boston for two months to work on game prototypes.
I applied to be an artist there but my art sucked, but somehow my music got in.
It was just being in the right time in the right place my music wasn’t awesome.
At that time not a lot of people thought about composing came music.
It really tested my limits I was one person handling six teams of audio great things happen when you get tested to your limits.
I was pleasantly surprised to learn that I can actually compose for games.
Subsequently, I got hired in the Singapore office after that incubation program; that's how I got started in games.
RR: Tell me about how that led you to VFS and what was your experience?
Some people might call My journey a bit of a… waste.
I left university halfway I graduated with a diploma in a poly technic in Singapore I wasn’t doing game audio then.
I was doing new media I decided to further my studies in a university after 1 year I left to go into game audio full time.
I really liked working full time as a game audio person doing sound design and composing in a company as suppose to studying in general…
But eventually, my skill set plateaued; I decided to pursue a sound design education.
Back in 2009-2010, there weren't many sound design schools let alone game audio most of the schools were just around music.
I went to Vancouver film school and after VFS there were opportunities to do films sound, Production audio, game audio.
Gwen IMBA: I decided to go to VFS because the paper didn’t really matter.
VFS 1 year program I wanted to learn as much as I could in a short amount of time so I could get out and work.
There you have it no sleep whatever (Gwen Jokes)
RR: What area of sound design are you most passionate about?
Gwen IMBA: Right now it's really implementation.
I love the creative aspect of asset creation, but there is also a lot of creativity to be found in implementation; It's really a lot of problem-solving.
Gwen IMBA: When I was growing up I never considered myself a technical or a logical person just a crazy creative.
Regardless of what creative engine whether it's Unreal Engine, Unity or middleware like Wwise and Fmod.
It became my playground and I feel in the zone when using those tools.
Implementation has really helped me to think logically like a programmer from there is a lot of creative problem-solving.
RR: How did you get involved with Imba Interactive?
Gwen IMBA: IMBA is a gaming term it's short for imbalance (pwning) in a game we decided to adopt that term as part of our company.
When we first started out and I had two other cofounders.
We weren't friends but went to the same incubation program we all did game audio.
We found there weren’t many people doing game audio full time except the three of us in Singapore.
Competition in such a small place is not really healthy.
When people are constantly anxious about getting paid for the gig we found ourselves subconsciously comparing salaries.
We figured why should we compete against each other decided to join forces in 2013 as of today have expanded to a team of five audio people this year is our eighth anniversary.
We chose collaboration over competition.
RR: How was the company formed?
Gwen IMBA: when we started out.