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The Art and Business of Game Audio

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[Feature] The latest developments in the field of game audio and music composition were discussed in a series of workshops held at the AES 127th Convention in New York. Approaches to making more dramatic music and sound effects were discussed by experts from different parts of the game audio industry. Considerable attention was also paid to the issue of interactive music creation, whereby some 60–90 minutes of music has to be made to serve for perhaps tens of hours of interesting game play, using layers and dynamic mixing techniques. The composer’s task is made more difficult by the limited availability of information and examples about the game for which he may have to write appropriate music, which leads to a need for greater involvement in the team process of game creation.

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JAES Volume 58 Issue 4 pp. 332-335; April 2010
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Matías Moreno
Matías Moreno
Comment posted June 14, 2010 @ 19:42:35 UTC (Comment permalink)

Greetings all, I am delighted with this topic because I love videogames. I have
friends who want to develop their own videogames and they have asked me to compose and record the music for them. I am still not familiar with this genre (Terror, beat-em-up, RPG, Action, Puzzle, etc.), and I find this a useful tool guide.

But how do I get to enter into this business? What are the prerequisites or tasks that a Sound Engineer should perform? And finally, reading this text it mentions the conditions to work in modern videogames but not in the "older" or "retro" ones, like those in the 80´s or 90´s. Do you think that 8-bit sound techniques have become obsolete?


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Andrew W. Hollis
Comment posted July 30, 2010 @ 18:10:09 UTC (Comment permalink)

Game audio career options fall in roughly two categories: audio programmers and sound designers.

Both either work in-house for a game development studio or as contract freelancers. They find jobs through networking, directly from studio websites, or from game industry job boards. Many studios have a revolving door of low wage quality assurance (QA) testers—ie people that play video games all day. While this may seem like the best job in the world, it is a lot of hours (10+) and Cheetos for little money ($10/hr). However, for an enterprising individual this can be a foot in the door to better opportunities in the studio.

Programmers are usually required to have a BS in Computer Science, Computer Engineering, or related engineering field.

Sound designers of course don't need any degree at all (though one is always wise to have a university degree). They generally start as interns or low wage workers ($10/hr) and work their way up. Alternatively they may jump from a closely related industry, like television post production, advertising, etc, where it may be easier to squeak a living as an assistant ($30k/year).


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David Aragon
Comment posted October 23, 2010 @ 17:21:05 UTC (Comment permalink)

Mr. Moreno's question "...do you think that 8-bit sound techniques have become obsolete?" prompts me to say that I think the nature of the work has bifurcated since the old (pre-SoundBlaster) days. For "real" game platforms such as PCs, yes, higher-resolution sound interfaces are now ubiquitous, and the challenges have shifted towards the artistic and collaborative aspects of the game design described in the article.

At the same time, there is now an explosion of personal gadgets with tiny transducers (phones, WiFi devices etc.) which I think *do* still have a need for bit-miserly approaches (remember Mozer coding?) such as we used on 8-bit game machines. So low-bit-rate audio can't be dismissed as historical only.


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