Success is not about conformity; it’s about discovering what you can offer that meets a need. Hopefully you find this process as fulfilling as Geng Li does. As the video game industry has exploded, rivaling the creativity and budgets of major films, so has the industry procurement of the most talented in a variety of fields. A composer of music for traditional purposes such as his work with the Filharmonie Brno (Czech Republic), Geng has found a welcoming canvas in the video game realm. Whether composing new music to emphasize the storyline or as a sound designer, Geng Li has elevated the game (pun most intentional) for the productions he’s been a part of. Video games have become a wellspring of storytelling and entertainment for a vast part of the global public. The increasing popularity of E-Sports drives home the notion that this industry will continue to evolve and expand, bringing creative like Geng Li and his collaborators along with it to inspire legions of fans and participants. 

  The soundtrack for PUBG Mobile by PUBG Corporation boasts a plethora of musical styles ranging from ethno-oriental tunes to grand orchestral compositions. What excited Geng most about his contributions to this battle royale game was “Hunt Is On”, the theme song for the PUBG Mobile Global Championship 2023. Paying homage to the 50th anniversary of hip-hop, Geng incorporated 808 drum machines with elements of a trap beat combined with powerful electric guitar chords and orchestral instrumentation for a powerful e-sports anthem. The community gave an overwhelmingly positive response to this funky and inspiring theme song. PUBG Mobile Global Championship 2023, marking the climax of the season, wrapped up on December 10th, captivating nearly one million concurrent viewers in its finale. PUBG Mobile has been acclaimed as the world’s premier game, securing the top spot on both the App Store and Google Play. In a remarkable milestone, it surpassed $10 billion in revenue in 2023, underscoring its dominant position in the global gaming market.

Synthesizers and digital sonic elements were baked into Li’s score to the sci-fi themed game A.D. 2047. This VR crime-solving game takes place in the future. Geng’s dark and mysterious melodies and sonic personality instantly transport the player into a digital state-of-mind. This careful composition enhances the gaming experience by adding layers of tension and a palpable sense of urgency, engaging players deeply in the unfolding mystery.

The very sonic inverse of this is Geng’s soundtrack to Arena Breakout which combines medieval folk melodies with modern hybrid orchestral arrangements. Among the standout tracks is Delvin’s theme song which was nominated for Best Song at the HMMA 2023. It features a haunting medieval melody, rich in poetic lyrics and backed by a melancholic minor cadence, evoking the imagery of ancient voyages and farewells. A mobile tactical shooter game, Arena Breakout’s soundtrack bridges historical inspirations with contemporary musical techniques to pull players in quickly to the action of the storyline. Arena Breakout was distributed by Tencent and had over 80 million registered players and an estimated annual revenue of $130 million.

  Geng’s most recent undertaking is proving to be a project which demands the most of him and promises gamers an unrivaled experience. Years in the making, Pollard Studio’s The Dark World-Karma is a first-person psychological horror game which offers a deeply immersive experience. The game begins with the player finding themselves in a new body and lacking a memory of how they got there. Because they must discover what events led them to this point, it was imperative that the musical cues not give away too much information and thereby inform the player as to what they should expect or which direction they should take. This is the very polar opposite approach of composing for film and television. Geng professes, “For me, The Dark World-Karma represents the pinnacle of my career in terms of effort, creativity, and innovation. This project stands out not just for the volume of work it requires but for the sheer diversity of musical landscapes it encompasses. Spanning a broad array of genres, narratives, and settings. It allows me to experiment with a wide range of musical styles and themes, and how I can set up an interactive score to support a complex story. From the acoustic nuances of the physical realm to the electronic dissonance of the spiritual world, and sometimes a mixture of both or jazzy tunes that bridge these spaces, the project demanded versatility and creativity seldom. It really pushed me forward as an artist.”

  Consider for a moment the 2022 revenue of the film industry was about $95 billion USD while the video game industry was more than $180 billion USD in the same year. In this light, one becomes aware that the best and most talented professionals will be gravitating towards this continually prospering medium. Geng Li is following in the footsteps of the great film composers who came before him but in the direction that modern times dictates. Geng notes that he’ll still be creating for various types of projects but is positive about the freedom and challenges video games are continually bringing to him.

Writer: Basil Thomson

By Punit