Students score chance to write game music

Elizabeth Sabrio

Three Northwestern music graduate students used Internet2 — an Internet network more than 300 times faster than a broadband Internet connection — to virtually collaborate with college students around the country and the world to create the musical score for an online video game launched Tuesday.

Internet2 and Access Grid video software enabled music graduate students Chun Chan, Jay Dorfman and Casey Farina, who composed the score for “Descent to the Underworld,” to have live, TV-quality video conferences with other students on multiple screens during the 12-week process.

“It allowed us to meet virtually for weekly or bi-weekly meetings,” said Scott Lipscomb, associate professor of music education and technology and sponsor of the project. “Though I never met the people face-to-face, I feel a camaraderie with them.”

When Lipscomb first heard of the project from a colleague, he was asked to do the sound effects for the game. But Lipscomb suggested doing a musical score.

“Our team focused on the score, while (Louisiana State University) worked on the sound effects,” Lipscomb said.

Produced by Druid Media and aimed at a middle school-age audience, the game is designed to illustrate the aspects of a classic mythical story. “Descent to the Underworld” allows the player to make various decisions, which result in advancing to the next level or dying and starting over. But “Descent” has a new twist.

“After game play, the player is able to watch a film of their game,” Lipscomb said. “We created the score to go with the film sequence.”

Although the game isn’t as sophisticated as those played on Sony PlayStations, the end product isn’t the most important thing, Dorfman, one of the collaborators, said.

“What we’re most proud of is the idea of a collaboration that reflects the creativity of everyone in the group,” Dorfman said.

The game can be played at .

Reach Elizabeth Sabrio at [email protected]