Composer Mark Mothersbaugh has earned acclaim and awards for every medium in which he has worked, from his early days as a founding member of the influential rock group Devo through the music he has created for television, movies and commercials. He is equally adept at scoring for the interactive world, most recently for Electronic Arts’ “The Sims 2.”
Says Mothersbaugh: “Games have become very complicated, which forces you as a composer to think about music for games in a much more sophisticated way — especially with ‘The Sims 2,’ which morphs in different ways on the whim of the player.”
The PC game, the sequel to what EA claims is the top-selling PC franchise of all time, is scheduled to ship Sept. 17. Mothersbaugh also will work on the music for subsequent expansion packs during the next few years.
The artist has parlayed his avant-garde musical style into the world of entertainment, where he has scored, composed or directed the music for such films as “Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen,” “Rugrats Go Wild,” “The Royal Tennenbaums,” “Rushmore” and “Happy Gilmore.” He also was honored with the BMI Music Award for outstanding career achievement.
But video games also have been a consistent part of his career. After working on the music for a few arcade games during the 1980s in conjunction with Devo, Mothersbaugh has been involved in video game music for the past decade. He has worked on at least a dozen games, including such best-selling franchises as “Crash Bandicoot” and “Jak & Daxter.”
“You can go places with games that you can’t go with movies, TV or albums because of the technology,” he says. “Game consoles and PC have a regulated environment that TV, movies and radio don’t, which allows us to use 3-D modeling technologies invented in the ’90s like Q-Sound for games that don’t work in other mediums.”
For “The Sims 2,” the music is a hybrid of an electronic and acoustic score, similar to his Wes Anderson scores, which are both rhythmic and melodic. “I tried to create a universe with ‘The Sims 2’ so that you’d recognize that it was ‘The Sims’ game no matter where you were in the game,” Mothersbaugh says.
He says he was familiar with “The Sims” games before being approached by EA for this job and playing the beta version of the sequel. “‘The Sims’ has a much wider audience than the cliché of what many video games are today,” he said. “I like the fact that players can solve problems in a world they create.”