Career Spotlight: Create Sound for Video Games

Posted on November 29th, 2013 - Written by: Josée Daigneault

Audio Engineering & Production

Image Source

Video game sound has come a long way since the blips and bloops that accompanied early arcade classics. Every new generation of technological advancement delivers a deeper integration of audio into the overall architecture of a game. The sound designer for today’s video games is an important contributor for the multi-billion dollar industry, becoming increasingly respected as a creative force in similar proportion to audio’s role in film. Video game sound includes everything from background music to character voices, explosions and ambient effects.

Creating an immersive world for players takes a combination of complementary skills. Many audio engineers in the gaming industry will require musical experience to compose, arrange and perform original material, although larger game developers will have a team with specialized roles for composition. A good knowledge of sound recording, editing and mixing is essential, which may involve sourcing samples for sound effects from library archives and other resources from audio courses or creating unique versions with similar Foley techniques as used in film projects. The job goes beyond isolated recording and mixing techniques and demands innovative approaches to get into the mind of the user, integrating diverse capabilities to create interesting, realistic interactive experiences.

As the work tends to require close working processes with a dedicated team, communication skills, professionalism and positivity are important for handling the stress of deadlines and communicating effectively. Professionals with experience in audio engineering courses work to a creative brief, and must plan an efficient work flow to capture the necessary sounds, including auditioning and recording actors for dialogue, recording effects on sound stages and in nature, and coordinating with musicians to arrange the score. Dialogue includes synchronizing speech to animation, perhaps in several languages for various international versions.

Video game sound is dictated by the desired mood of each stage of game play, sometimes connecting certain sounds to the particular movement of controller buttons, adapting the style to reward or punish the player’s choices and associating characters to a unique set of sound accompaniment.

Vancouver-based game producers enlisted Hollywood sound pros at Skywalker Studio for a Scarface adaptation, recording the breaking of dried pasta and integrating cannon fire to dramatize the gratuitous gun sounds. To plan arrangements, sound designers may make rough mixes with placeholder sounds until the perfect one is found. While video game technology is rapidly advancing, there may still remain limitations in the development format compared to mixing for films, for example.

Consistency is important to maintain continuity throughout a game, which takes keeping an eye (and ear) on the big picture. Developing the right sounds relative to the player’s skill level often requires recording several different versions and gradations, and much of the detail is adjusted in the mixing stage by adding reverbs, equalization and panning. As capabilities for surround sound and music that adapts to game play expand, video game sound will only become a more lucrative and intriguing field for specialists in sound engineering school.

Write a Comment

Comments are closed.