Akira Yamaoka is a videogame composer, audio designer and producer with a graphics designer background who gained widespread critical acclaim for his musical scores and sound design work on the Silent Hill franchise for Konami. His use of non-traditional instruments, atonal minimalism and sudden changes in volume and tempo were highly influential in the development of the original game and lead to him becoming the main producer on the series with Silent Hill 3. Despite his enhanced role in Silent Hill 3, as well as Silent Hill 4: The Room, he continued to compose the musical score and design the audio for the series. After Silent Hill 4: The Room, all the key members of Team Silent disbanded but Yamaoka was the only one left to continue developing the remaining Origins, Homecoming and Shattered Memories games.
His scores for all four entries in the main Silent Hill franchise were released on CD in his native Japan.
While he did not produce the PSP release Silent Hill: Origins, developed by Climax Studios and not the regular Konami in-house team responsible for the four previous titles, he did return to compose the game's score. He is one of the only original Team Silent guys involved in the production in Silent Hill: Homecoming.
Aside from his work on the Silent Hill games Yamaoka has also composed music for many of Konami's rhythm action series over the years, including the long running Dance Dance Revolution and Beatmania games.
Goodbye Konami, Hello Grasshopper
On December 2nd 2009, Akira Yamaoka officially left Konami after working with the company for sixteen years. It was reported on early February 2010 that he has joined Grasshopper Manufacture, creator of Killer 7 and No More Heroes. Goichi Suda, head of Grasshopper, said:
"I really love Yamaoka. Ever since I saw a video of Silent Hill 2 at the Tokyo Game Show nine years ago, I've always dreamed of working alongside him. That's why I thought I'd invite him over when I started hearing rumors that he left [Konami]."
Yamaoka himself said that jumping to Grasshopper was an easy decision:
"It was a case of really good timing. I knew about Suda long before I met him; I saw Grasshopper as one of those few Japanese outfits whose games can appeal to an overseas audience. I had a chance to meet him in Los Angeles and we talked about this and that, and once we started discussing how we wanted to do something creative for a world audience, I was hooked on the company."
Yamaoka has concentrated on composing music for Grasshopper's games to start with, although he stated that he'd like to use his "total sum of experience" to create games in the future. His first project with grasshopper was one that he worked on with Suda and former Capcom designer Shinji Mikami for Electronic Arts, Shadows of the Damned.
- His cites Angelo Badalamenti, Metallica and Depeche Mode as his musical influences.
- His favorite own soundtrack is Silent Hill 2.
- In March 2009, Yamaoka auctioned some of his musical instruments for the Play for Japan flood relief. The auctioned items include his beloved Yamaha APX-15FM guitar that he bought right before composing the first Silent Hill soundtrack as well as his Line 6 FB4 and a Line 6 POD. Yamaoka himself said that giving this gear up is nothing compared to losses the people of Touhoku suffered due to the earthquakes and tsunamis.