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Laura Shigihara身兼数职,非常着迷于游戏,她不仅玩游戏,还积极参与开发过程——包括游戏音乐的谱曲、制作,甚至是演唱。在休闲游戏《植物大战僵尸》中,Ms. Shigihara演唱自己创造的主题曲,歌曲的调子悦耳易记。

laura from playaslife.com

laura from playaslife.com

在下述访谈中,Ms. Shigihara将谈论自己的自由职业生活,女性在游戏领域的地位,喝茶是其灵感来源,以及为什么不做流行歌手(她曾收到日本唱片公司的合约),还有就是她正在制作的RPG作品《Blue Star》。

小时候有没有人带给你什么特别影响,使你步入今天的职业生涯?

我一直以来都受到众多影响。父母从小让我学钢琴,这对我帮助很大。他们向我介绍众多不同风格的音乐,鼓励保持创造性。虽然我受过专业训练,但我的视唱和理论非常糟糕;我擅长凭听觉记忆演奏。我可以不看乐谱演奏音乐内容。很多NES音乐我都非常喜欢,所以我时常玩《洛克人》游戏中的内容,或是Capcom和Squaresoft的作品。有一次,我将《洛克人3》中的一首曲子翻录到卡带上,以便能够进行反复聆听,分析其中内容。令我着迷的是,歌曲同时呈现众多旋律,而且听起来非常悦耳。我觉得它很像古典音乐,但其表现更简单,更富旋律。虽然这是8位元游戏中的音乐,但其谱曲非常美妙。现在回想起来,我觉得游戏配乐显然需要表现突出。我的意思是,它们没有间隔,没有其他元素配合;谱曲必须非常杰出。Yasunori Mitsuda、Nobuo Uematsu和Yoko Shimamura都是非常杰出的作曲家,他们带给我的影响很大,我很喜欢他们的作品。我从小就听各式各样的音乐,从Johnny Mathis到Tupac,从迪斯尼音乐到红辣椒乐队。

自由职业者的利弊体现在哪里?

自由职业者的好处在于我可以自由安排时间,因此我的行程非常灵活。我不喜欢典型的朝九晚五模式,能够腾出额外时间投身其他工作是件很棒的事情,例如教钢琴,制作自己的RPG游戏。此工作方式的弊端在于这是份有些孤单的工作。我喜欢社交;我非常喜欢和别人交流,但我多数的时间都是在家或在工作室办公。所以我积极创造机会,定期同伙伴们碰面,这样我就不至于发疯!

你如何看待女性在游戏行业中的地位?

在美国,很少女性喜欢玩游戏,所以自然很少女性对制作游戏感兴趣。但我觉得这种情况会逐步发生改变,因为各个公司逐步推出迎合更广泛用户的作品。这种局面目前已开始改变;我的意思是,20年前我妈妈对电子游戏完全不感兴趣,现在她开始喜欢上《魔兽世界》和《动物之森》。另一有趣之处是,多数游戏领域的女性都倾向参与游戏公司的商业事务(游戏邦注:HR、营销和法律事物)。同样,多年来,我很少遇到女性游戏设计师、程序员或者作曲家。但这同样也会随时间而发生改变。遗憾的是,有很多女性其实很喜欢玩史诗探险游戏,但她们常常都因盒子封面刻意绘制的女性角色而失去体验兴趣。当然她们通常都不会选择针对男性群体的游戏。但希望壮大女性玩家群体的公司未来将意识到这点。

你为什么放弃做流行歌手?

你的意思是说,我为什么放弃日本公司的合约?我想主要原因是合约包含若干有违我道德观念的内容。整件事情让我颇感不快,它促使我开始思考自己的未来发展计划。当时我人在美国,后来我担任某专门制作访谈节目及日本苹果英语学习资料公司的音响总监。同时,我还谱写出自己的第一首电子游戏配乐。我非常享受其中,所以我开始承接更多电子游戏合约。我想这就是为什么我现在从事这份工作。

《Super Shigi》是否是和《超级马里奥》大同小异?

“shigi”源自我的姓。“超级”则要追溯到我大学期间学玩《反恐精英》的时候。当时我住在学校宿舍,我们这层楼碰巧都是游戏玩家。我们常熬夜玩这些大型的8人LAN《星际争霸》游戏,其中趣味多多。我刚开始和她们玩《反恐精英》时,我未能通过实施爆头拯救自己的生命。所以我的好友Davy给我几点建议,他要我练习射击好友Jeremy,我们达成的协议,只有我顺利向Jeremy实施爆头,我们才可以吃晚饭。在以网名“shigi”进行多次失败尝试后,我决定开个玩笑,将网名改成“supershigi”;几乎在更名后的同时,我成功实施一次爆头,我们所有人最终都得以吃晚餐。所以,从那以后,我总是以“supershigi”作为我的网名。

你在游戏方面兴趣广泛。你最喜欢的3款作品是什么?为什么?

这是个很难回答的问题。我一直都非常喜欢的一款作品是《时空之轮》,至于第二和第三喜欢的作品,能够算入其中之列的游戏很多,但要具体列举,我想应该是《洛克人5》和《星际争霸》。《时空之轮》是款各方面都非常杰出的作品。起初看来,故事似乎非常简单、直白,但随后则发展成富有深度的清晰情节。战斗机制颇具趣味,音乐非常优美。我有8位好友在玩这款游戏,有些以前从未玩过电子游戏,他们都非常喜欢这款游戏。《洛克人》的系列作品我都非常喜欢,但我选择《洛克人5》的原因是我从中感受到很多乐趣。游戏颇具平衡性;关卡非常富有挑战性,但玩家的控制设置非常巧妙,所以当你打败boss时,你会非常有成就感。我很喜欢游戏初始的杰出小型过场动画:洛克人的围巾从天而降。我觉得游戏的音乐非常悦耳动听。NES游戏涉及众多元素;杰出的画面,令人满意的结局等。《星际争霸》是款特别吸引人的作品,无论你是和好友共同玩这款大型的8人LAN游戏,还是只是自己完成游戏任务(游戏邦注:这款游戏的故事非常杰出)。游戏还变成一种文化现象。听起来有些奇怪,当我到韩国观看世界杯时,我发现在很多情况下《星际争霸》变成一种共同语言。

你的种族身份在工作中扮演什么角色?(或者说作为日本人,你的优势是?)

我的欧亚混血儿身份无疑给我的工作带来一定程度的影响。我从小就接触各种不同文化的音乐,这显然有影响我的作品。

你的《植物大战僵尸》配乐在日语中听起来似乎更自然。你觉得此评论是否属实?

情况变成这样,让人觉得有些意外。我在美国出生长大,我讲英语比讲日语自然。但我觉得这和语言的表达方式有关。作曲的时候,我心中清楚歌词将由向日葵唱出,我将其想像成儿童的嗓音。我不清楚其中原因,但我用日文比用英文更容易模拟出儿童的声音。这里也许涉及某些语言学元素,但我不是非常清楚。

你谱曲时采用什么程序?除钢琴外,你是否玩其他乐器?

我在多数项目中都采用Sonar 6,同时通过Soundforge编辑内容。我运用许多软件合成器,还有就是Korg Triton,它就像台钢琴,但在编程和采样方面用途广泛。我弹吉他,也打一点鼓,但并不怎么擅长这些乐器。

你在获得游戏音乐制作灵感有没有什么特殊“模式”?你和图像设计师和开发者的联系程度如何?

我是外包人员,因此通常都是团队唯一的外部人员。所以通常我都会和项目制作人碰面商谈工作细节,和设计师、程序员保持沟通,确保音效得到合理落实。虽然我因此得以认识项目的其他人员,但我很少在会议之外碰见他们。但《植物大战僵尸》项目的情况截然不同,因为我男友是这款游戏的设计师。所以我参加许多集体讨论会,进行众多游戏测试,我还在午餐时间和他们玩《Dominion》。为获得灵感,我进行各种各样的尝试。和某些人交谈,和着欢快旋律跳舞或奔跑,进行某些冒险活动,这些都很有帮助。茶也带给我很大帮助。我很喜欢茶。某次观看来自“Play!” 音乐会的“时光之轮”现场管弦乐演奏视频过程中,我萌生制作音乐的想法。

Plants vs. Zombies from popcap.com

Plants vs. Zombies from popcap.com

到《Blue Star》问世,我们应该再进行一次访谈,但能否告诉我们:你为什么要制作这款RPG游戏?你是否打算转型从事游戏开发?

我想我制作这款RPG游戏的主要原因是我想要基于自己撰写的故事制作些许内容。我一直都很喜欢电子游戏,我一直觉得具备基础故事情节的RPG作品存在特别之处。即便是现在,当我听到《时光之轮》或《幻想水浒传》等作品的音乐时,我就会回想起游戏角色及故事如何打动我。若我能够创作出类似的游戏体验,我将非常开心。假如我能够顺利完成这款作品,我将继续从事游戏设计(关于下款作品,我已有构思)。但我不会放弃作曲。我觉得这有点类似于把自己变成多面手。我喜欢一次进行多个创意项目,这样我就能够在着手下个项目的过程中获得短暂休息,直到首款作品的灵感再出现。我刚完成这款游戏的一个悲伤情境:主角谈及母亲生前常唱给他听的摇篮曲。我需要谱写一首摇篮曲配合此情节,整个过程是个非常棒的经历。

游戏邦注:原文发布于2009年5月4日,文章叙述以当时为背景。(本文为游戏邦/gamerboom.com编译,作者:D. Yvette Wohn)

Play as Life

By D. Yvette Wohn

Laura Shigihara wears many hats. A California native of Eurasian descent, Ms. Shigihara’s passion for games is so great that she not only plays games, but actively participates in the development– which includes game music composing, producing, and even singing. Yes, singing. In Plants vs. Zombies, a new casual game scheduled to be released tomorrow, Ms. Shigihara sings the theme song (in both English and Japanese) that she composed– a catchy tune that will stick in your head for the rest of the day.

In the following interview, Ms. Shigihara talks about her life as a freelancer, being a woman in the game industry, tea as inspiration, why she chose not to be a pop star (she was offered a contract in Japan!),  and about Blue Star, an RPG that she is developing.

Q. Who (or what) influenced you as a child that you could say relates to what you do today?

A. I’ve had a lot of influences over the years. My parents let me take piano lessons, which helped enormously. They both introduced me to a lot of different styles of music, and encouraged me to be creative. Although I was classically trained, I was so terrible when it came to sight reading and theory; my big thing was playing by ear. I could play anything by ear. I actually liked a lot of NES music, so I was frequently playing stuff from Megaman games, or anything from Capcom or Squaresoft. One time I recorded a piece from Megaman 3 onto casette tape just so I could listen to it and dissect all the different parts. I was fascinated by how many different melodies were going on at the same time, and how they all managed to sound good together. I thought it was like classical music, but more simple and melodic. Even though this music was for 8-bit games, I still knew the composition was excellent. And in retrospect, I think it had to be excellent… I mean, they had next to no space, they had barely anything to work with; the composition had to be good. Yasunori Mitsuda, Nobuo Uematsu, and Yoko Shimamura are all game composers that have influenced me a lot, I love their work. I also listened to a wide variety of music growing up… everything from Johnny Mathis to Tupac, Disney songs to Red Hot Chili Peppers, and everything in between.

Q. What are the pros/cons of being a freelancer?

A. Well, the nice thing about freelancing is that I set my own hours, so my schedule is very flexible. I love not having a typical Monday through Friday commute, and it’s nice to have extra time to work on side projects like teaching piano or working on my rpg. The downside is that it’s kind of a lonely job. I’m a fairly social person; I really love talking with people… but most of the time it’s just me working from home or the studio. So I try to make a point to have regular interaction with folks so I don’t go crazy!

Q. How do you feel about women’s representation in the game industry?

A. I think in America, there are fewer females who are interested in playing games, so naturally there are even fewer females who are interested in making games. But I think that will most likely change over the years, as companies provide games that appeal to a wider audience. It’s already changing; I mean, 20 years ago my mom was certainly not playing video games. But now she loves World of Warcraft and Animal Crossing. Another interesting thing I’ve noticed, is that most of the females in the game industry tend to be involved in the business side of the company (HR, marketing, legal staff, etc.). In contrast, over the years I’ve encountered very few female game designers, programmers, or composers. But again, that could very well change with time. The sad thing, is that there are plenty of women who I’m sure would love to play an epic adventure game for example, but they’re often put-off by things like the gratuitously drawn female characters on the box cover. Of course they’re less likely to pick up a game that looks like it’s been made for guys. But hopefully companies that are looking to increase their female demographic will realize this.

Q. Why did you decide not to become a pop star?

A. Do you mean like, why didn’t I accept the contract in Japan? I guess the main reason was because there were some things included in the contract that compromised my morals. I was really put-off by that whole incident, and it prompted me to take some time off to figure out what I should do next. During that time I was in America, and I started working as the sound director for a company that produced an audio talkshow, and English learning materials through Apple Japan. I also composed my first video game soundtrack. I really enjoyed it, so I started taking more video game contracts. And I guess that’s why I’m doing that now instead

Q. Is Super Shigi kind of like Super Mario?

A. Oh, do you mean Super Shigi like my email? Hehe… well, “shigi” comes from my last name. And the super-part actually came from this one time back in college when I was learning how to play Counterstrike. When I was living in the dorms, I happened to be on a floor that was full of gamers. We used to stay up all night playing these huge 8-player LAN Starcraft games, it was a lot of fun. When I first started playing Counterstrike with them, I couldn’t get a headshot to save my life. So my friend Davy was giving me some tips. He made me practice on our friend Jeremy. The deal was that none of us could go to dinner until I got a headshot on Jeremy. After many failed attempts under the online alias “shigi”, I decided to change it to “supershigi” as a joke; and almost immediately after I changed it, I finally got a headshot, and we all got to go to dinner. So from then on, I always used “supershigi” as my online name.

Q. You seem to have a diverse interest when it comes to games. What are your top 3 favorites and why?

A. Wow, this is a tough one! Well definitely my favorite game of all time is Chrono Trigger… but as for 2nd and 3rd place, there are so many games I love that could go there. But I think I’m going to have to say Megaman 5 and Starcraft. Chrono Trigger is just an all around good game. The story seemed very simple and straight forward at first, but it gradually turned into this wonderfully deep and yet accessible plot. The battle system was fun, the music was beautiful. I’ve gotten about 8 friends to play it; including folks who had never really played video games before, and they all loved it. I like the Megaman series in general, but I chose Megaman 5 because I just had so much fun with it. The game felt very balanced; the levels were quite challenging, but the player control was excellent so you really felt like you accomplished something when you defeated each boss. I liked the cool little cutscene at the beginning where Protoman’s scarf falls from the sky, haha. I thought the music was so catchy and melodic. And there was just so much stuff for an NES game; great graphics, a very satisfying ending, etc. Starcraft is super engaging whether you’re playing a huge 8-player LAN game with friends, or just going through the campaigns by yourself (the story is actually quite good). It’s got such a culture about it, too. As odd as it sounds, when I went to Korea for the World Cup, I felt like there were so many cases where Starcraft was the common language.

Q. Are you really not interested in International Relations anymore?

A. I am, but I’m certainly not as involved as I was before. But I still try to spend some time each week catching up on the news and reading about what’s going on with our foreign policy.

Q. What kind of role does your ethnicity play in your work? (How important is your Japanese identity?)

A. I think being Eurasian has definitely had an impact on my work at some level. I was exposed to music from many different cultures growing up, which I’m sure has influenced my compositions.

Q. In your soundtrack for Plants vs. Zombies, it sounded more natural in Japanese. Do you think this is a fair critique?

A. You know, it’s really kind of funny that it turned out that way. Given that I was born and raised in America, I’m far more comfortable speaking English than I am speaking Japanese. But I think it actually has to do with how the languages are spoken. When I wrote the song, I had in mind that the lyrics would be sung by the sunflower, who I imagine has a childlike voice. And I’m not sure why, but it’s a lot easier for me to sing like a child when I’m singing in Japanese, than when I sing in English. There’s probably some kind of linguistic explanation for this, but I’m not sure what it is.

Q. What kind of programs do you use for composing? Do you play any instruments other than the piano?

A. I prefer Sonar 6 for the majority of my projects, along with Soundforge for editing. I use a variety of soft synths, along with my Korg Triton which I love, because it feels like a piano, but is very versatile in terms of programming and samples. I play the guitar and a bit of drums, but I don’t think I’m good at those instruments.

Q. Do you have any special “ritual” in getting inspiration for the games you have to make music for? How involved do you get with the graphic designers and developers?

A. Since I’m a contractor, I’m usually the only person on the development team who isn’t in-house. So generally I’ll meet with the project’s producer about the details of my assignment, and I’ll work with the designers and programmers to make sure the audio is implemented properly. Even though I make a point to get to know the other folks on the project, I don’t often get to see them outside of meetings. With “Plants vs. Zombies” however, things were very different because my boyfriend is the game’s designer. So I was around for a lot of the brainstorming sessions, I did a lot of game testing, I’ll go play Dominion with them during lunch. As for getting inspired, I do all sorts of things. Talking with certain people, dancing or running to upbeat music, going on some sort of adventure… these things are all helpful. Tea helps a lot, too. I love tea. One time I watched a video of the Chrono Trigger/Chrono Cross live orchestral performance from the “Play!” Concert which really got me in the mood to make music!

Q. We should probably do another interview when Blue Star comes out, but remind us: why are you developing this RPG? Are you going to move from composer to game developer?

A. I guess the main reason I’m developing this RPG is because I really wanted to do something with the story I wrote. I’ve always loved video games, and I’ve always felt that there was something special about an RPG with a really good storyline. Even now, when I hear music from games like Chrono Trigger or Suikoden, I’m reminded of how much the characters and their stories moved me. If I could create that kind of experience for someone else, it would make me so happy. If I can manage to finish this game, I would like to continue designing games (I already have something in mind for my next game). But I would certainly not stop being a composer. I think it’s just that I’m kind of a multi-tasker. I like to work on more than one creative project at a time, so that I can take a short break from one to work on another until my inspiration for the first one comes back (and vice versa). I just finished a really sad scene in the game that involves one of the main characters talking about the lullaby his mother used to sing to him before she passed away. I got to write and sing a lullaby to go with it, and that whole process was such a great experience.(Source:playaslife

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