Sunday, July 14, 2024

CNA grad lands job at VR company through social media efforts

This grad is working as a community manager and sound designer for the popular game Gorilla Tag

Cody O’Quinn sees the value of a great imagination and how creative skills can be applied to everyday things, such as one of his favourite video games.

A graduate of both the Applied Music and Sound Recording & Production programs at CNA, O’Quinn recently secured a contract with virtual reality company Another Axiom, working on the popular game Gorilla Tag.

The musician and sound engineer credits part of his success to the musical content he was posting to the popular social platform, TikTok.

“I had a few friends point out to me when we were playing the game that there were these crystals that sounded almost like a piano,” said O’Quinn. “You hit them, and they make notes. They suggested that I try to make up a song using that for something in the game because they didn’t think anybody had really done it.”

O’Quinn’s friends were correct. When he did some research to see if such a thing had been done, he was pleasantly surprised to find that nobody had.

He began searching the game world for places where he could hit things and make sounds.  He sampled those sounds using computer software, put them back together in new and creative ways to make instruments, and used these instruments to make songs.

“I uploaded that song to YouTube and it got very little views,” said O’Quinn. “Then a friend told me to try TikTok. I took their advice and the video got like 300,000 views in the first two days.”

However, O’Quinn doesn’t attribute all his success to this one viral video.

“It wasn’t just the one video that actually attracted the (Another Axiom) development team,” he recalled. “I spent about eight months making Gorilla Tag songs – just taking every sound effect I could find in the game, making more songs than I can count.”

The Stephenville native says he recreated several popular songs, including tracks by popular artist The Weeknd, songs from anime shows, and other songs he heard on the radio.

“But it was the original stuff that really caught people’s attention.”

On top of creating songs using the video game’s sounds, he was also getting very involved in the Gorilla Tag community online, becoming a regular poster on the game’s Discord server (a voice, video, and text chat app that allows users to talk and hang out with their communities and friends) and its social media accounts.

“I wasn’t initially contacted by them,” said O’Quinn. “They were posting a few jobs online for level designers and producers, and there was one for a community manager role. I applied for that in early August and I think that’s probably where they first got their eye on me. I applied for that job, and I had some of the qualifications, but probably not all of them. But I decided to give it a go because I really loved the game. Unfortunately, they turned me down.”

The rejection didn’t stop him, however.

“I kept making my videos; kept making my music,” he said. “Then, a few months later in November, I got a message from one of the three heads of the company. He asked me if I was interested in doing some contract work for them.”

The company informed O’Quinn that they never actually hired anybody for the community manager position because they couldn’t find the right fit.

“After doing more research and looking into people and seeing what I was doing, they decided they wanted to take me on for that, as well as doing the sound design stuff.”

Multiple roles

In his role as community manager, O’Quinn is responsible for in-game security. He handles bans and reviews people’s appeals. He is there to ensure that players aren’t being toxic inside the game, breaking rules, or cheating. He also spends much of his time on the game’s Discord server making sure people are following the rules, he posts announcements for game patches, and he engages with the online community.

O’Quinn also gets to do sound design, which is his passion.

“In the game there are things you can shake that make noises, like a rubber ducky squeezy toy or an electric guitar, for example. I usually make all the sound effects for those.”

He also gets to make music for the game.

“It’s sort of a secret right now, but in a few days, I’m going to have some music in the game,” said the musician with a big smile on his face. “I get a lot of creative freedom with this contract, which is awesome. I get to make a lot of decisions sound-wise. I’ll decide what sound effects I want to make and I can actually pitch them to the company to put in a particular level in the game. It’s an open, creative company, which is a really cool thing to be part of.”

Since this interview was conducted, the game song Curse of the Monkeye has been released and can be heard HERE.

When asked about how his education at CNA prepared him for this work, O’Quinn was very positive.

“I learned a lot during the music program and became a confident musician, becoming adept with composing and arranging. Without the program, it would have taken me way, way longer to figure out a lot of things.”

He continues, “And I really had no idea I’d be this confident in my audio abilities coming out of the sound program. It took my skills to a new level. I grant a lot of my success to my education at CNA, on the business side of the industry, too. Being able to study under people who are actually working in the industry is really helpful.”

To learn more about these and other programs at CNA, visit www.cna.nl.ca

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Ryanne McIsaac
Ryanne McIsaac
Ryanne is Editor of CNA Currents. Born and raised in Stephenville, NL, Ryanne moved back to Newfoundland after spending 16 years in Calgary, Alberta. Ryanne has a Journalism Diploma from College of the North Atlantic and a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Cape Breton University. She worked for many years as a reporter and freelance writer. She is happy to be back in her hometown and working for CNA.

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