What’s it Like Being a Sound Engineer for Video Games?

Audio engineering for the game industry is nothing short of grueling. While many sound designers and audio engineers jump at the opportunity to work on a video game, that’s not to say it’s easy work. Sound design in games is often the most overlooked aspect of game production, and yet it’s vital to the overall experience for players. Having said that, the overall feel of a video game relies heavily on the audio engineer’s ability.

The audio engineer is responsible for adding realism to the in-game world with sounds. Every game has its own reality and identity, and the audio engineer needs to be able to understand and encapsulate the game’s essence in the audio they produce. That includes blending dynamic sound effects with ambient sounds and background music to bring life to the game’s world, but it’s hardly limited to such.

What Does a Game Audio Engineer Do?

As you might expect, the audio engineer has to juggle several moving parts in the overall production of a game’s soundtrack. For clarification, when we say soundtrack, we mean the entire sound mix, which includes sound effects, ambiences, voice, and music. In other words, the sound engineer creates the sound effects to support the game’s actions, provides any necessary ambient audio, and processes the character’s voices. Of course, they need to mix all these elements along with the music tracks in a way that matches the producers vision for the overall aesthetic of the world being created.

The audio engineer for games might also run auditions for voice actors and then facilitate the voice over recording and editing to get the right energy, style, and tone out of the actors.

Once the voice over work is complete and the sound effects are in place, the audio engineer goes to work to edit, mix, and master all the different elements to make a seamless soundtrack, and ultimately help create the atmosphere and immersion desired by the studio or game producer.

Requirements of a Game Audio Engineer

Given that audio is such an integral aspect of video games and their overall feel for the player, a great deal of work is required from the audio engineer. Of course, creating and mixing the actual audio is just one aspect of the process; the role of a video game audio engineer typically entails much more. Take look below:

  • The audio engineer must frequently communicate with the game designers to assess the game and the type of audio it will require, such as music, sound effects, and foley.

  • In creating sounds, the engineer typically sifts through SFX libraries for source material, which will then be layered and processed to attain the perfect sound.

  • Of course, many sounds effects have to be created by the engineer themselves. While it can be a fun process, that’s not to say it isn’t painstaking, as the effects have to be perfect.

  • Needless to say, game audio engineers require an extensive knowledge of both audio equipment and the software needed to process effects, create sounds, and mix the entire soundtrack.

  • To accomplish seamless audio that immerses the player and moves the storyline of the game along, engineers require a great sense of timing. This may be when music starts, or matching a sound with a character’s footstep within the game.

  • Furthermore, all the above work must be completed within a specific timeline, determined by the game’s development company. Within this, audio engineers must possess the ability to communicate with others, manage a schedule, coordinate recording sessions, and more.

Achieving Optimal Game Audio

Clearly, game audio requires in-depth developing to achieve optimal sound that both immerses players and provides an interactive experience. From its earliest stages to the final product, a video game’s sound design is one of the most important factors, alongside the actual visuals and gameplay.

If you’re working on a video game, or any project requiring sound design, Creative Media Design can help. If you’re interested in working with us, you can contact us here or give us a call at 212-213-9420. For more information, you can also view our services page.