thoughts on game audio

Sound in Games

Why make audio for games?

  • saturated music industry
  • can be another income source besides performing, composing for films/games, making audio libraries, sound recording at shows, music teacher…
  • the game industry is larger than the film industry - More jobs?

What does audio in films and games do?

  • sets the mood/emotion;
  • identifies time/place;
  • identifies character (leitmotif);
  • sets pace;
  • increases immersion;
  • character subtext;

What’s the difference in audio for films and games?

Film vs Game Music

Non linear

  • linear vs non-linear (excl. trailers)
  • carefully crafter music loops
  • interactivity: sounds are triggered, mapped

Different Categories

Some games

  • online games, console, mobile games
  • action-adventure, strategy, RPG,
  • casual vs serious i.e educational
  • multiplayer vs singleplayer
  • ?

Playing games makes you aware of the audio conventions to follow, or break. Now you have an excuse to play computer games :)

Be Organised

(Even more than when working on film.)

Be organised

  • Name your audio files descriptively in organised folders.
  • Ask your client for ‘file naming conventions’.

Your Job

  • specialised audio job e.g. composing (often AAA) vs everything from foley to mastering (often indie game)
  • in-house (often AAA) vs freelance/contract.

AAA chain:
1) game designer > 2) game developer/producer > 3) audio lead/director > 4) composer, sound designer, audio programmer.

Concentrate on what you want to do, but if you are comfortable with technology learn how to code, record, mix, master, …

Learn New Technology

Spacial Sound

Binaural head

  • [Mono] [Stereo] [Surround] [Binaural]
    What is the difference?

  • Immersive - how does our audio help immersion?


Get to know different systems - will add to your skillset!

Binaural Game Example:

Use headphones with the video to fully immerse in it.

Video demo on different sound design methods used in the audio games Papa Sangre, The Nightjar and A Blind Legend.

Do you know the limitations of binaural sound?

Here an example where the Neumann dummy head is used to record a band and here a youtube channel with a vast amount of recordings.

Think about VR, motion detection, …

History and Examples of Game Audio

First game Evolution of audio in games: Silent games > sine and square waves on hardware chips > FM synthesis > MIDI > 8 bit PCM > 16 bit PCM.

Short history of game music here. play

Project Management


When you work with game developers you might be asked to join a web-based project management application like Trello or Mantis Bug Tracker.

Benefits of using a PM:

  • simple to assign tasks to members
  • keeps a project on schedule with deadlines and the visual narrative
  • communication in the task environment

Brain’s Eden 2017

Brain's Eden 2015 Be there next Summer for networking and for adding games to your showreel.

Please email Brain’s Eden to express your interest in going as an audio person:


  • create databases, bookmarks, …
  • monitor game developer’s websites

    Do you know Jagex, Ninja Theory, Guerrilla and Frontiers in Cambridge? Can you think of others? What about indie games? Where can you find them?


Shall we cover how to make a basic website for your work? Online presence might be good for you when you freelance.

Your Progress

Students present work in progress for class feedback.


The Role of Audio for Immersion in Games
“Immersion is considered to be one of the key factors making games worthy to play. The unity that seems to exist in the fact that many parties value this phenomenon is more apparent than real: there is a lot of dispute on the scope of immersion. Several classifications of immersion are compared for a better understanding of the nature of an immersive experience. The three‐dimensional SCI‐model by Ermi & Mäyrä (2005) is considered as valuable representation of the multi‐dimensional character of immersion.” Read more about this here.

Beep: A Documentary History of Game Sound
Beep is a documentary history of game sound, from the Victorian arcades to today. You can watch full interviews with game composers on this website was well here.

Composer Nick Ryan
Nick Ryan Interesting BAFTA interview with Nick Ryan here and ‘Sound is Magic’ article on Gamasutra.

8-bit games
If you get bored of making music, play some games from the past here :)


  • Collins, Karen. Game Sound: An Introduction to the History, Theory, and Practice of Video Game Music and Sound Design. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2008

  • Stevens, R, Raybould, D (2011. The game audio tutorial: a practical guide to sound and music for interactive games, Focal Press/Elsevier c2011

Search for these two books in the ARU library (hardcopy and online).

Everybody loves to play this game — the game of hide-and-seek, the game of scaring oneself with uncertainty. It is human. It is why we go to the theater or movies and why we read novels. And our so-called real life, seen from the position of the mystic, is a version of the same thing. The mystic is the person who has realized that the game is a game. It is hide-and-seek, and everything associated with the “hide” side of it is connected to those places within us where we as individuals feel lonely, impotent, put down, and so on — the negative side of existence. ~ Alan Watts