Creative Chronicles brings together key insights, information and statistics from the experts at Creative Assembly. We hope this will inspire students and those considering a career in games development.
This edition of Creative Chronicles focuses on Audio.
Players increasingly expect more from games and the quality of audio production is no different. Dynamic soundscapes are complex but when done well, they are key to player immersion.
With the possibility of multiple activities happening on screen, game sound must convey action clearly and in different ways. The interactive nature of gameplay stands it apart from the music and film industries where audio is linear. With games, it is not possible to know exactly what the player will do and where they will go, the audio must account for these complexities, creating sound for different locations, interactions, characters and events.
TALENT IN THE UK
There are four core disciplines that fuse together to deliver the audio experience you hear in video games: Sound Design, Music Production, Dialogue Production and Sound Programming.
Game audio has many uses, it can add weight and physicality to visual elements on screen, provide ambience, support story-telling or score emotional cues. The audio disciplines can combine to create a soundscape that isn’t confined to the screen and when used effectively, can help totally captivate the viewer. That is a broad description of what collectively game audio does and in reality, the job involves many responsibilities and skill-sets that vary depending on the genre, scope, timescale and budget.
Sound designers can be difficult to find in the UK. For games development, a variety of skill and experience is needed. For example, during a project a game sound designer will undertake studio and field recording sessions, create multi-layered sound design, work on post production for linear pieces and design and implement interactive systems that influence how audio behaves in the game.
The specialist skills needed for games audio, which differ to those required in film and large post-production houses, mean there is a limited pool of experienced specialists. Additionally, in the UK we are seeing fewer students studying music and music technology courses. In 2017 there were 58% fewer A-Level Music Technology students and 32% fewer A-Level Music students than in 2009.